Friday, 6 December 2013

A family Tale

A Family Tale

This is a tale set in the long forgotten winter of 1963.

The snow rose up into drifts on the road leading up Totter’s Lane, and it led to Gwen’s home, Any gaps in hedges or fences were made more evident by raised humps, that held up mud and leaves in a gesture of penance.
“I think it’s starting to melt.” Gwen’s father said, sniffing the air as he looked down on his daughters  rosy cheeked face staring up at him, as they walked hand in hand heading up a slight incline, in his other hand he held a metal case and that case was getting heavier the further they walked.
The Evening wind had a touch of ice to serve it's biting chill to the two walkers, and it was a distinct possibility that the snow melting was wishful thinking on her father’s part, and as if to taunt him some snow from an earlier flurry flew upwards encouraged by the bitter north-easterly wind, into his face.
Gwen loved the snow, its pure white topping spread over the landscape, tucking all in its cold blanket for another winters night. 
This wonderful covering even made the old junk yard look spectacular; with its magical statues made from the underlying scrap, some appeared as Monsters reaching out into this alien world wanting it for their own.
'We will have you!' the scary sculptures promised.

Gwen's eyes were drawn to The old yard, as she could see light coming from one of the red bricked sheds, and framed within it's window she saw a shadowy figure dance as the flames of an open stove flickered in the interior.
“Daddy? Is the old man sleeping in that shed?” 
Her father followed her gaze and replied, “Oh I very much doubt it Gwen, even with a stove it must be freezing in that big old shed.”
Still walking Gwen snuggled her chin down into the collar of her pale blue woollen coat, as she had done the first time she'd worn it, it was wonderfully warm.
“You there!…ah... Young man!” a stranger cried.
Gwen and her father stopped  in their tracks to face the shed once again, only this time the figure of the old man, who's voice they heard for the first time stepped out from the shed door leaving its triangular light to spill from the doorway coating the virgin snow in  Amber.
“Thank you for stopping.” The old man said walking towards them; he held up an old oil lantern that Gwen had only seen in the black and white world of television, and something in the way the man dressed reminded her of Ebenezer Scrooge.
“I’m looking for my grandaughter, her name's Susan  she's about yay high," he indicated with his free hand, "with short dark hair, you wouldn’t  happen to have seen her by any chance?” The thin faced old man with his long white hair raised both eyebrows and gave out a kind of 'hum,' in his voice as he waited for a response.
“No, I’m sorry,” Gwen’s father answered then adding, “we’ve walked the best part of a mile and you’re the first person we’ve seen on this road so far, I imagine sensible people are sat by the fire.”

The old man had firm but kind features, “Oh dear me, this will never do, no, no, this won't do at all, they could come at any moment!”
“They ?” Gwen’s father asked now curious as to what this old man worried so clearly about.
“Ah…well ah, thank you again young man,” he looked down at Gwen, her rosy face  reminded him of his daughter as a child, “My you’re a jolly young thing aren’t you,humm.” He said with a smile. 
“Are you the junk yard man?” Gwen asked, excited to meet the old man she’d only seen fleetingly before, she imagined him to be some kind of wizard, or a mad inventor.

“The ah... Oh...The Junk!… Oh no my dear I’m just ah…well I’m just visiting, you might say.” He looked puzzled as if wondering what to say. 
“Well you both must be cold and needing to get home to the warm I'm sure, don’t let me keep you any longer.” He turned holding his lantern high straining to see into the night.
“Well... Mr Foreman is it?” Gwen’s Father enquired.
“Ah?” said the Old man hesitatingly, “Yes, Yes Mr Foreman quite right!”
“Visiting a junk yard?” Gwen chirped, interrupting this awkward moment, with her face all scrunched up trying to understand why anyone would visit such a place.
The old man turned to face Gwen again, his face softened once more, and lit up by the smile she gave him, “Oh my dear child, there are many things of use in a junk yard, this discarded scrap,” he gestured with a wide sweep of his  hand, “is a virtual treasure trove for the adventurous of mind, hmm?” looking to her happy face he added, “you love adventure don’t you child?” He pondered, with his eyes still twinkling with a smile in each corner.

Gwen’s father laughed. “Oh dear me, don't get her started or she will talk until bedtime, my Gwen and her sister love adventure stories, they ask for tales of imprisoned Princess locked in towers, dragon’s eggs, witches and demons.”
“My Daddy tells the best Stories EVER!!” Gwen squealed with delight.
This made the old man chuckle even more and  looking up from his stoop at Christopher he remarked, “You’re a lucky fellow, your daughter’s Charming, quite charming.”
“Oh Thank you, yes my little Gwen is a charmer all right, and Sarah too!, they keep me busy,” he looked at Gwen and winked, “I wouldn’t change it for all the tea in china” he added.
Gwen snuggled up to her father holding him by his leg.
But the old man’s eyes saddened yet again as he turned once more to leave, “I, I must press on… things to do, so many things to do.” He walked back through the large open double gates of the yard, “Bless you both, It was kind of you to stop” The old man said over his shoulder and is voice trailed off as he retraced his steps.
“This isn’t a night for real introductions, enjoy the rest of your Evening.” And he walked out of sight.

The moon combined with the reflective properties of the snow gave the night a strange and eerie light and it was possible to see for quite some distance, but this seemed to be of no comfort to the old man as he looked out, and that same worried look creased his features.

Two miles away Susan was hurrying along the lane back to the junkyard; she was late and knew this would unsettle her grandfather.
Teachers at her school were asking too many questions for her liking, and she’d walked in circles in case they took it upon themselves to follow her.

 “Daddy ?” “Yes Flossy?” Flossy was one of many nick names Christopher had for his daughter; so named because of days at carnivals,  where her love for candy floss often resulted in a floss covered face.
“I think that old man has some kind of magic.
“You do now, do you.” Chris chuckled. 
Gwen continued, “yes... he looks like Merlin without a beard; I’ve seen Merlin in my books.”
“Well his long Hair is very Merlin like I suppose.”

Meanwhile waiting at home, Sarah lay across her bed, where she had been ideally drawing jumping horses in the condensation forming on the inside of her bedroom window, the legs of the horses now gathering the moisture in drops, so that they rained down the pane to form small pools on the window seal.
Suddenly she noticed Gwen and her father walking up the path.
She leap't from her bed and  headed down stairs to greet them, her bobbed dark hair tussled but looking delightfully sweet dropped strands over her eyes, and she blew upward and brushed them aside as she reached the bedroom door.
“Daddy!!” she yelled now running down the stairs as her father and sister stepped into the hallway. 
Christoper slammed the door with his foot, he then began stamping the last remains of the snow from his boots, Gwen now following by example stamped her feet too, after she step't  on one boot edge as she slid her foot free, then doing the same with the other boot with her free foot.
Chris unbooted, turned to face the excited Sarah now at the bottom of the stairs, the red floral carpet of the hallway under her bare feet.
“Did you get it?” her eyes wide, eye brows raised, “did you get it Daddy?”
“Hello swot!” he said as he knelt to kiss her cheek. as he attempted to hide the case behind his back.

Earlier that day Christopher munching his strawberry jam cover toast. read the paper, and remarked to his wife that a Jumble sale was being held in the hall at St Martin of the fields Church. But all Sally heard was, “Saallmmmahy? There muah bahh in a ale magain."
She smirked,"do you think you could say that again in English, my Toastainian speak is a bit rusty..."
Chris laughing, coughed an apology, and swallowing twice replied, "They're having a Jumble sale again, do you think they may have one this time?”
Sally wiping her hands in a tea towel as she turned from the sink said, “well it won’t be too far to look would it and Gwen could use a new coat, that hand me down from Sarah is looking rather ragged.” She said as she sat down close to Chris and looked over the ad in the newspaper.
“Take Gwen with you, you know how useless you are at guessing the kids sizes, that hat you bough home for Gwen would fit a medium sized Elephant.”
“Oh really” he chuckled, “well that's as maybe but she loved that hat!”
“Only because her lovely daddy gave it to her and told her it came from a woman who wore it to venture out in the Wild West… Calamity Jane who rode with wild Indians on the dusty plain.”
“Well it certainly looked like it could have  belonged to Calamity Jane, didn’t it?”
Sally hugged her husband. “I suppose to a crazy man like yourself it probably did!” she laughed, and kissed his unshaven cheek. “And shave before you go, lazy bones.” 
“Ok” he kissed her nose, “I’ve been busy.”
“Doing what may I ask?”
“Doing stuff!... you know writing stuff!”
“You are definitely a crazy man, do you know that?”
“Well it has been said,” he laughed,  and his body shook from his amusement. 
“Right then!" he said, decision made, After lunch I’ll take Gwen to the sale.”
“Good, it will do you both good to get out and get some fresh air,” sally paused then added, “and shave ……now! Before you forget again.”
“Fine….Fine you task master.”
“Hop it Mr,” she said slapping his backside as he rose to go.
Sally had an oval face with a cute button nose framed by her wavy dark brown hair. Christopher her husband had a handsome face with a strong and at the moment bristly chin. She loved his green eyes that always seemed to sparkle when he smiled. Sally had Hazel eyes that looked as if they were cast from the stars always shiny bright.
Sarah took after her mother, with that same cute button nose and pretty face, she was inquisitive and very clever for her 10 years, She is close to her 6 year old sister Gwen.
Gwen with her fair hair, blue green eyes stood out from the rest of the family, as the rest of them all had dark hair, this came from her father's side who also had fair hair as a child, that changed to its now dark colour in adulthood.

Sally told the girls about the sale at Dinner.
“Oh Goody are we taking the train Daddy?” Gwen said as the news was put to her.
“Yes and you can have the window seat.”
“Yayyyyy I love you daddy.
Laughing and tweaking his daughter's cheek he joked, “And I love my little flossy, so I can’t eat her for dinner today can I?” while tickling her belly, that bought the sweetest sound of chuckles to his ears. 
“You can’t eat me Daddy I won’t let you” she chuckled some more.

“Am I going too ?”
“No Sarah you have to finish your school project…we don’t call you the swot for nothing you clever thing.”
Sarah looked disappointed...But then a wonderful thought crossed her mind…”Oh My Goodness, will daddy finally get it for me?” she looked lovingly at her father ,“daddy you will won’t you?”
Sally gave Sarah a knowing wink, “lets wait and see shall we.”
“Oh Brilliant” she jumped from her seat and ran round the Kitchen table with outstretched arms  like a planes wings, “I can’t wait, this is going to be the best day EVER!!”
The word EVER was expressed just as Gwen had done while talking to the old man, but that was yet to come. 
“That’s a possibility young lady but finish your food before you fly off somewhere.”
“Yes poppet, come finish your dinner” her father said, still amused at her excitement.
“Oh sorry” she said smiling , she sat next to her father and kissed his cheek, “Thank you daddy.”
“But I haven’t done anything yet Swot!”
“Oh... But you will daddy, I know you will.”

The journey on the train in to Town saw Gwen with her nose pressed to the window... she was singing ‘clickitty clack clickitty clack, we ride green dragons down the track.’
A song her father made up when she was tiny, she’s a big girl now she thought, but she still loved the sound of the tracks giving a backing to her song.

The snowy landscape was filling her mind with wondrous imaginings and snow beings, Gwen was the artist in the family, her mother being a freelance writer for national magazines was very impressed with her talent, even at 6 years old.
At the sale her father spoke to Mrs Pickering, a lovely Woman who lived near the flat they used to call home. 
“Oh My Word!! Gwenie your turning into quite the little lady aren’t you?”
Gwen grinned and stood an inch taller.
“My goodness you’ve grown it must be two years now?.”
“Yes it must be at least that Mrs P… How’s Arnold these days, is he still tinkering at his allotment?” Chris asked, pleased to see his old neighbour.
“Oh Deary me no, it’s his back you see, he can barely get about these days bless him, he’s home now by the fire with a good book, he loves his novels our Arnold.”
“Aww, that’s a shame, his veg was the talk of the town.”
“Yes it was wasn’t it, he’s coping best he can, what more can anyone ask, we all move with the times.”
"That’s true Mrs P, well give him my regards.”
And Gwen put a hand to her mouth and said, "and please give him this," then blew a kiss to Mrs Pickering.”
Mrs P made a gesture in the air to catch it and put it in her handbag, “Oh he will have that as soon as I get home Gwenie.” Mrs P said smiling, she bid her goodbyes and best wishes, then walked out in to the street.

“Well Gwen mother say’s you need a new coat so let’s see what we can find eh?” he held her hand as they made a meandering path around the stalls.

Gwen squealed! “Look daddy.” she pointed ahead to a stall where clothes hung in racks, “it’s the colour of the sky!!”
Chris saw a pal blue woollen coat and instantly knew this was the one for his Gwen.
He bartered with the seller finally agreeing a trade of her old coat as part of the deal, it was a bargain. 
“Oh I love it daddy.” she said tucking her face down into the warm folds of the collar, “I’m like a sunny day in winter now aren't I daddy!”
“Yes indeed you are Flossy, you're like the sun in a bright blue sky.” he knelt to button up the coat, with the deal stuck, and Gwen in her new coat dancing up the aisles, between the stalls, it meant there was only one thing left for Chris to do.

His heart began to sink, he couldn’t see Sarah’s most wished for gift on any of the stalls they passed, and they must have seen them all by now, but wait! the last stall in the corner had all kinds of kitchen appliances and electrical goods and there sat on it’s case lid, next to weighing scales and old riding boots was the object oh his daughter's desire, a gleaming Remington Monarch Portable typewriter Build in the 40’s, this was a gem and better then anything he’d hoped to find. He caught the eye of the seller “How much?” he asked pointing to the Remington.
“Ahww that’s 15 quid mate”
“Good grief that’s a packet isn’t it?” Chris exclaimed.
“It’s a bargain is what it is mate” he looked Chris over, “I’ll tell you what!, I’ll let you have it for 13 if you thrown in your watch.”
“My watch?” Chris looked at his fathers old watch on his wrist, it was gold plated and he knew it was worth a lot more, he hadn’t considered selling it though… but it’s only a watch he told himself..
“Look I’ll make you this deal and I’ll not take less then 5 for the watch…. 8 pounds!”
The seller put on a strained you're killing me face, but knowing almost everyone wanted electric typewriters these days, and this relic never got much attention, and with the determination in Chris’s eyes he thought why the hell not.
He was glad to be rid of the thing really, it weighed a ton and one less object to lug around is always welcome. 
“You're going to make me starve mate but you got a deal.” He sighed, holding out his hand to shake.
“Wow! Chris was surprised at how easy that was… Ok, so he loses his fathers watch but he knew his dad wouldn't have minded, especially if it was something so splendid it would mean the world to his grandaughter, Sarah needs her typewriter more then you need to tell the time... He imagine his father saying , You are so right dad, he said to his fathers voice in his head.
“Ok, Let's do it.” Chris shook the mans hand and removed the watch, he took one last look at it, as he handed it over, "So thats a fiver, and here you go, three pounds." he handed the seller, two ten shilling notes and two one pound notes.
“You got a Bargain there mate!”
“Yes ….yes I know.”
The seller shook the watch and put it to his ear, “Lovely.” he said.

Chris knelling kissed Sarah and produced the case containing the machine of her dreams.
“Oh daddy……Oh daddy I love you, it’s beautiful!” She said with glee as she opened the case, Sarah then tapped a key and heard a satisfying click… I’m going write a book with you.” She told it.

Sally stood beaming at her husband, she heard the excited stomping of Sarah’s feet coming down the stairs and leaned out from the doorway to the lounge. 
“I see you got one then!”
“Oh Yes a Remington too just like she wanted.”
Sarah took the typewriter which was far heavier then she imagined. It would take pride of place on her desk. 
“Thank you daddy….thank you Mummy, I’m so happy I could burst!”
“Well don’t burst on my carpet young lady, people parts are so hard to remove from a carpet.”
“Oh Mummy!” she replied in mock scorn, and she headed back to her bedroom grinning like the Cheshire cat from Alice in wonderland…
“Sis, I’m going to write my first story for you….Oh and you look smashing in your coat!”
Gwen put a finger to her chin and with a curtsy she said “Why thank you my lady.” She was beaming with pride.
"Ah...Sarah?" Chris said to his rapidly fleeing daughter... "You might need this pack of writing paper too!"
As he said this he opened a draw in the hall stand and took out the paper pack, one he'd put aside for this day.

Sarah shouted back as she reached the top of the stairs, "I'll be right back for that Daddy, how silly of me to forget." She laughed and disappeared into her bedroom.

Sally Hugged her husband close and said "And don't think I've not noticed your watch is missing, your father gave you that on your 21st."
"All I know Sal is that my father would have traded his own watch to see his grandaughter so happy." 
"Yes, indeed he would" she hugged him tighter and kissed his till unshaven cheek, "And I thought I told you to shave before you left Mr!"
"Ah well...I guess I got too distracted by my mission." he laughed, "You know I still have the fob watch my father gave me.. I think I'll use that, it will make me look quite distinguished, like a real Gent." chirp Chris still smiling .
"A Gent Eh? Well what do you think of that Gwen? Daddy a Gent?"
Gwen looked up at them both and smiling said, "Daddy is too silly to be a Gent isn't he Mummy." 
"Yes my dear, and with that bristle far to scruffy too."
"Hey a bit harsh you two," He said still laughing. "OK bossy boots I'll shave now, OK?"
"You make sure you do....Gwen go see to it he does."
"Yes Mummy."

Back at 76 Totter’s Lane, Ian and Barbara, Susan’s worried teachers enter the shed. 
“She came in here I know she did.”
“I can’t see a thing” Barbara said.
“Well someone’s been here the stove is still hot!”
“Well strike a match!” Barbara suggested.
“I haven't got any. Oh, never mind.” Ian answered.
“Susan?” Barbara called into the darkness
“Susan? Susan? Susan! Susan! It’s Mister Chesterton and Miss Wright! She can't have got out without us seeing her.” Ian said into the gloom.

"look at this!.” Barbara exclaimed.
Ian stepped closer.
“Why It's a police box! What on Earth is it doing here? These things are usually on the street..." He placed a hand on the panel, "Feel it!" Do you feel it?” Ian asked. as Barbara touch the door panel too.

“There's a faint vibration.” Barbara answered.
“It's alive!” Ian said walking round it, “It's not connected to anything, unless it's through the floor.” He observed with what little light the moon provided through the dusty windows.
“Look, I've had enough. Let's go and find a policeman." Barbara suggested, with a worried voice. 
“Yes, all right.” Then they both froze as someone close coughed.
“Is that her?” Barbara said feeling scared now.
“That's not her. Quick!” 

They hid as an old man in Astrakhan hat and a long scarf entered the shed. 
He walked directly to the police box and put a key in the lock.
“There you are, Grandfather.” Susan said from within the police box as the door opened.

“Susan at last, you had me worried.”
He closed the door behind him.

“Sorry grandfather, two Teachers at the school are asking awkward questions.”
“Ah yes my dear I feared as much, we can’t afford anymore mistakes, losing your parents is testament to that." The old mans eyes glazed over at the memory of losing his daughter and Susan’s father but the current situation prompted him to say, “I’ve repaired as much of the system as can be managed with the primitive resources available, alas we must wait a little longer for some of the circuits to adapt to the new configuration.”
“Yes grandfather, can I help?”
“No…no my dear, beggars can’t be choosers I’ve done all that can be done for now.” a smile twinkled in his eyes as he said “I’ve baked you a fruit cake!”
“Oh wonderful grandfather but my birthday's weeks away I can wait for now.”
“No, no, no…. my dear girl your quite wrong, it can’t wait, I’ve put together some of your favourite cheeses, crackers, oat biscuits…Oh and Pickled Onions, it’s a veritable feast!!”
Susan held her grandfather’s arm and giggled and said “Fine, thank you Grandfather Lead the way to this scrupulous feast.”

“It's Susan.” Barbara whispered.
“Shush!” Ian motioned as he knocked, No one replied so he knocked as loud as he could manage on the Police Box door. The old man reappeared at the door, “What are you doing here?”
“We're looking for a young girl.”
“Good evening” Barbara said, now stepping out to stand beside Ian.

“What do you want... Hmm?” the old man looked annoyed at their intrusion into his privacy.
“One of our pupils, Susan Foreman, came into this yard.”
“Really? In here? Are you sure?” The old man said eye brows arched.
“Yes, we saw her from across the street.” 
The Doctor realised they were not the police but the teachers who asked awkward questions.
“Why were you spying on her? Who are you?”

“We heard a young girl's voice call out to you.” Barbara mentioned.
“Your hearing must be very acute. I didn't hear anything.”
“Now look here” Ian said sternly as he pushed passed the old man into the Police Box, followed closely by Barbara.
“How very rude of you young man, how dare you pry into matters that are of none of your concern.”
“Oh ….No Grandfather these are my teachers!”
“Well that’s no reason for them to push their way into the Tardis is it?”
Both teachers stared open mouthed at what was just impossible.
“But this is a Police Box! I walked all round it there isn’t  any rooms attached to it!”

The Doctor walked over to the console and shut the doors.
Looking round Ian shouted, “Wait! What are you doing let us out at once!”
“Oh let them go Grandfather they won’t tell anyone, who would believe them?”
“Don’t be ridiculous my dear girl, of course they will tell the authorities, won’t you …Hum” The Doctor said looking at them both.
Barbara now very scared said “Look you can’t keep us here, people will come looking for us”
“Yes I realised that as soon as you both nosed your way into here, let it be a lesson to you both to keep for curious nature in check in future.”

“Grandfather you can’t hold them, you must let them go”
“It’s far too late for that my dear we must leave.”
“No Grandfather we discussed this I won’t leave the 20th century, I want to stay here, let me go with them, I’ll make sure they  keep your secret”
“No… I can’t risk it, we lost your parents trusting others.” The Doctor set his jaw firm. Susan realised he would never trust these strangers.
“It’s alright Barbara if he won’t open the door for us I’ll do it, I saw him touch a switch on the panel over here” Ian said reassuringly as he walked round the other side of the console.
“Don’t touch it! Susan warned, “You don’t understand The Tardis is alive!.”
“Nonsense.” Ian answered, he touched the switch he believed the old man used and instantly jumped back  as an electric shock surged through his hand, the pain went right up his arm, at first he couldn’t move it, but painfully he managed to move it up and down. “You’re insane let us out……at once, do you hear?”

“So you want to leave with them do you Susan? Well in that case I better let you all go hadn’t I?” 
“Are you leaving with us Susan?” Barbara asked.
The Doctor walked to the console but instead of opening the doors he set the Tardis time rotor in motion.
“No Grandfather!!” Susan screamed …….
“You left me no alternative, child.”

In the Shed the dust and covers blew as the wheezing screech of the Tardis reached a point where it simply vanished...only a falling dust cover showed anything was there at all.

Many years had past since Sarah’s happy childhood, and she stood at the gateway to her old family home, the fresh snow a reminder of the happy day her father returned home with her beloved typewriter.
It was still home to her mother, she still missed her father, no one expected his life to end on the hard shoulder of a motorway. he was a man who should have died on the Moon, or heading to Mars. forever the adventurer. but her father had died in a accident on the M4 in the 90’s whilst attempting to free a driver from their car, in a fog full of collisions, the vehicle was struck from behind by a transit van.
His many fans, who loved his books, Missed him too.
Sarah's sister Gwen became the artist she always dreamed She'd be, joining The Disney group in the late 70’s and she was now heavily involved in CGI animation. Like her father she too now had dark hair.
There Mother bless her was an advocate of growing old gracefully and never took to dyeing her hair, which was now white as the snow Sarah stood on, but she was still as beautiful as ever. Sarah sighed, but it was a happy sigh, as the memories came flooding back.

Closing her eyes she imagined her fathers arm round her shoulder..with him saying, "I'm proud of you swot, you have had the most marvellous adventures."

Then from behind her came a Familiar voice, she froze at the sound of his dulcet tones, not daring to look round. 
“Hello Sarah Jane.” he said.

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