Friday, 15 April 2016

The Freshwater Follies. Chapter One; in which GiGi realises things arenot always what they seem.

Dearest Emily,
I've been busy making notes for your new little sister's book, and thought I'd post you snippets from time to time. So here we have the first draft of the beginning of Mrs Middleton's Tales from the Bookroom. All characters aren't entirely fictitious, but with what we are about to relate-nobody would ever think it could be real!

Nobody in Freshwater ever really retired. Maybe it was the fresh air, and the incredible land and sea-scape. Maybe it was something in the water. Maybe the fact that on full-moons, no police wanted to work that shift played a part...
Ninety-year old's yomped up the Down regularly, in front of GiGi's eyes as she traversed the barbed wire fence, tearing holes in whatever inappropriate garment she was wearing that day. Dog-walking did not mean a change of clothes, or a walk down the lane, and through a gate in order to go back up Julia's Field next to The Lane onto the Down, and past her house.
So, torn clothing became the norm, as did being overtaken by SR's. SR's were GiGi's dub for those she deemed the Super-Race. There were quite a number of these in Freshwater- comprising all ages from 65 (the Spring Chickens of the Super-Race) to over 100. These people spent their days Kayaking at the Bay, Yomping up the Down, Running Marathons, Running Cafe's, Lecturing, and Volunteering.
Freshwater, it had to be said, was a quite extraordinary place- almost it seemed entirely run by Volunteers. GiGi reflected that if the Government caught onto it- they'd simply throw away the public purse, and let everyone just get on with it- Freshwater style. If it was sink or swim, Freshwater was swimming and the SR's were in the lead, sporting white swim-caps and red bathing costumes for the women, and the men were out fishing with spears.
 It was then, GiGi reflected later, when she was living in The Lane, at the foot of the Down, with an incredible view down to the Bay, that it all began...
The big old Victorian house they had rented was at the top end of The Lane. GiGi loved it all year round, Summer days began when the sun rose ridiculously early- lighting up the house as though it had suddenly been illuminated by aliens, half-blinding everyone in their path. Sunsets comprised of reflected light bouncing off the Cliff's at the Bay, and full-moons gloriously danced across the water- a little further each month into summer- where they became quite simply spell-binding. Winter saw the tourists off, and the Down became a blustery, bleak and stormy place at the edge of the earth it seemed to GiGi- who would sometimes look out of the back window up towards the horizon that the Down depicted- and she'd see no-one, and nothing, and this became somehow, all and everything, and  comforting in its lonesomeness.
One particular May night though, wasn't quite so comforting. GiGi was sat reading, as a piercing scream could be heard. The dogs barked, GiGi froze and listened, wondering what on earth it was that she had heard.
An hour later, the Down las lit up by the searching light of a Helicopter.
It was raining, cold and windy, as she and Mr Middleton traversed the barbed wire fence to find out what was happening.
Mr Middleton decided to go down to the Bay, rope in hand, to see if he could help-returning forlornly, with the news that a Policeman (barely out of nappies) had turned him back.
That night, the playing out of a real-life drama (not a televised version) in front of their eyes, one in which they were powerless to help, had prompted Mr M to join the Lifeboat services.
GiGi had scoured Facebook for news- as it was unquestionably the best way to find things out locally (other than the locals Tom-Toms, which certainly during daylight hours, were a force to be reckoned with.)
A couple had been walking along the cliff edge, it was reported, and the Wife had fallen, and the Husband had fallen, trying to rescue her. One had been transported by air to Southampton Hospital.
The next day, GiGi tried to find out more about the incident.
She walked down the Lane to Orchards the 'corner shop' where for the last 150 years, local news was spoken rather than bought off the printed pages of a newspaper. Nothing to be heard there, as it seemed Linford the Bull had earlier that morning been seen coming out of Green Lane and over towards Orchards. This occurrence had topped the morning news and eclipsed any other items.
GiGi walked back glancing more often than usual around her, lest a stray bull appear through a hedge. As she approached home, Mrs Potsby could be seen, via some clippers trimming a hedge, a big bag of hedge trimmings in front, and her blonde hair, gloved hands and clippers behind. 
"Hello!" said a voice behind the hedge "Lovely morning!"
"Yes, indeed" said GiGi "compared to last night and all that..."
Mrs Potsby cut in " I know dear- the wind, how it howled, we couldn't get out of the front door. Luckily it's all calm and bright this morning- I've been putting off this job for ages." She dropped the clippers, and appeared around the side of the hedge, wiping stray leaves from her hair.
"Linford escaped again I hear, took three women and a farm-hand to get him back to the field this time."
The field, GiGi thought, made him no less a threat to the public, than the road. From March to October, he was plonked onto it along with a Super Race of old cows, who year after year, produced little Linfords, who too ambled and gambolled up the Down, along-side dog-walkers, families and SR's on a mission.
Mrs Potsby went on about hedge-trimming, the opening hours of the tip being sparse, and the difficulties of life fitting in with a working day.
As GiGi approached home, somehow all thoughts about hearing a scream had turned into a howling wind and Linford's escape. As she entered the kitchen, and put on the kettle, this seemed confirmed by the sight of the great beast, scratching his neck on the barbed wire fence a few feet from her window.
Over the next few days, the story had disappeared as though it was a part of GiGi and Mr M's imagination. Nothing too had been mentioned at the Lifeboat practice. Mr M had said it was probably because he was a newbie, and anyway the problem about the slipway was becoming an issue.
That was the first unexplained disappearance that GiGi remembered....

Hope you like it so far Em, there's quite a bit to come!

Your ever-loving Grandmother,

GiGi xxxx