Tales from the Strangled Ferret Season 2. Episode 2

Picture credit –  Hannah Tobin.

Tales from the Strangled Ferret Season 2. Episode 2.

George admits to his loss of faith and his decision to resign as a Welsh Tobacconist. There is also a discussion about the French and British elections. There are problems with the new lemon slicing machine.

*****

‘What do you think of all this election business, Janet?’ asked Jack. ‘especially as Lame used to be a politician.’

‘I’m just glad he is out of all that now. When I first met him he was near suicidal because of the all the different pressures he was coping with. I could see under all that to the lovely man beneath and now he is free from all that pressure, he is like a butterfly, coming out of his shell and showing his real self – if you’ll excuse the mixed similes, err metaphors – I’m never really sure of the difference. We do watch all the politicians on the news sometimes and laugh at them as they rush around the country spouting the party line and trying to keep any of their own opinions away from the media at all costs.’

‘Well I’ve been watching how the French do it, they seem to have a completely different system to us. I’m not sure it is better but it is certainly different. I wonder if Marine will prove that Le Pen is mightier than the Macroni? Have you heard that we are setting up a twinning arrangement with a bar in a small village in the Auverne? The first meeting is here tomorrow evening. Will you and Lame be here?’

‘Mais certainement!’ said Janet as George wandered in having finished his day’s work in the Ferret Project office.

‘Hi George,’ said Colin, as George edged towards the bar. ‘Hard day in the FPO?’

‘Not really,’ said George, taking off his glasses, folding them and carefully sliding them into his jacket’s breast pocket,’ the main project is just about finished, it’s now all about checking the invoices from the contractors, writing the cheques and working through the snagging lists.’

‘What are they?’ asked Colin, not really wanting to know but happy to keep the conversation going. George had read about these when he had flicked through his PRINCE 2 coursework books when they arrived the previous Tuesday so he knew enough to bluff his way through.

‘They’re lists, with costs of all the outstanding errors and work once a project is in full operation. It is important to separate any unfinished work from any defects arising from fair wear and tear so that the costs can be correctly assigned.’

‘Wow,’ said Colin,’ I’m impressed, you certainly seem to know what you’re Tolkein about.’

‘You have to keep on top of the contractors. I’ve spent a couple of days in Middle Earth, you know. They’ll slip extra invoices in to add to the project if you’re not careful. A pint of Old Mouldy please Colin, I’ve got quite a thirst tonight.’

‘You’ve certainly come to the right place then. I think we have just about got the cellar temperature and humidity right so that it suits Old Mouldy. Have a sip of that and tell me what you think.’ he said as he slid a brimming pint across the bar. I’ve got a problem with the new lemon slicer. Do you think you could have a look at it, and put it on your snagging list if it is the supplier’s problem.’

‘Yes, of course I’ll have a quick look and if it is anything serious I’ll get the “Citron Clicing Company” to send one of their technicians out to have a look. It is still under warranty so won’t cost us anything. Well, it looks good, the glass is only a little under filled, the head is just right, the ale is clear, smells just right now it only remains to taste it…Ah, yes, that’s good. Full marks Colin – all you need to do now is to fill the glasses properly and stop trying to short measure your customers – did you learn that from Ben?’

A flustered Colin replied, ‘I don’t know what you’re talking about, Ben never showed me anything like that. He…he…’

‘Only teasing you, Colin, I think that’s a great pint and you deserve full marks for all your cellar work.’

‘Well, I too have spent a lot of time in Middle Earth, sorting out the beer storage conditions.’ They both laughed.

George took his pint over to his favourite seat by the fire and sat there, on his own, staring into the flames.

‘Are you trying to work out how to squeeze 10% more of the project cost,’ asked Jack as he drew up a chair and sat near George.

‘Not really Jack. It’s just that Ben’s funeral had quite a big effect on me and has made me reappraise some of the things I have taken for granted for most of my life.’

‘Like what, for example?’

‘Well I’ve always been a Welsh Tobacconist just like my Father and Grandfather before me. I go to the Bethesda Chapel every Sunday. This Sunday I listened to everything that was said and I realised that it was all just evil nonsense. Nonsense because it just didn’t make sense and all religions cannot be right, Only one can be right so which one? Evil because it decried all the other religions and tried to separate people and so was extremely bigoted and could easily cause friction – if not arguments and wars, as it has over the centuries. All religions claim to be ‘a religion of peace’ and then they pray to their god before a fight to intervene on their side as they kill the other side.’

‘Wow,’ said Jack. It sounds like you have started thinking for yourself.’

‘That is exactly what I’ve been doing,’ replied George, ‘ and, to coin a phrase, I think I have seen the light. I’ve resigned from the Welsh Tobacconists.’

‘So that means you don’t believe in god then?’ asked Jack.

‘I just believe in one less god than believers, after all there have been thousands of gods to choose from throughout the history of mankind. Do you believe in Thor or Zu Rhong, for example?’ riposted George.

‘Of course not. So you are now an atheist, George?’

‘Yes, but I am also a Humanist – I was so impressed with the humanist celebrant at Ben’s funeral that I went to see him the other day, when you kindly granted me an afternoon off, to talk about these things. I must get behind the bar and have a look at the lemon slicing machine. Talk to you later Jack.’

‘OK George, just make sure you are here for the twinning meeting tomorrow.’

‘I won’t forget Jack, I have already put some new Castors on my tractor but, if you ask me, it’s a load of Pollux.’

‘Don’t be so grumpy George, I’m sure you will be all for it once you have heard the details – after all, you are a Gemini aren’t you?’

‘Huh? …What’s up then Colin?’

‘The machine just refuses to operate – I think it is because the extraction unit isn’t running.’

‘OK, Let’s have a look at it. Have you tried it with the filters removed?’

‘No, why?’

‘If the filters are blocked, the extraction fan won’t run and then the slicer won’t work. So let’s take out the filters, have a look at them and then try the unit without them…Just look at that Colin, the filters are all bunged up with that fibrous stuff you get on lemons just under the peel. It’s running perfectly well without the filters so that shows that you should increase the frequency of filter cleaning. I’m disappointed in you Colin, I thought you were a lot better at taking the pith than this.’

‘Sorry George.’

© Richard Kefford    2017                                                                             Eorðdraca

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Writes of Spring – April 30th

Writes of Spring… what have we been thinking about? Each day throughout April we have been offering suggestions to inspire you to write:

  1. harmless tricks, spoofs and comedy
  2. From you have I been absent in the spring
  3. When I’m sixty-four
  4. https://www.thoughtco.com/steps-to-writing-your-family-history-1422877
  5. Take a fresh look at characters
  6. Who is telling the story?
  7. Thinking about place as a location
  8. Thinking about place in time
  9. A story can be told in many ways
  10. Points of view
  11. Let’s think about the plot
  12. More points of view, different point of view
  13. Beginnings
  14. Endings
  15. Even more, different points of view
  16. Watch the world go by
  17. Further points of view
  18. what’s next – what can you see?
  19. Pathetic fallacy – the personification of inanimate objects in  nature
  20. My story – my life – the history of me
  21. They flee from me that sometime did me seek
  22. An ordinary garden or kitchen tool,
  23. Song title
  24. Have you got story to tell?
  25. Looking back, reviewing, revisiting, being retrospectively inspired

LEFT BEHIND !

©Sarah could hear her parents arguing already.    She hated it when they shouted at each other.

“Whose stupid idea was it that we go camping anyway? ‘ asked Fiona.    ‘And why did you book such an early ferry?

It will be wonderful, if you would only get it into your head that we are a family, said Derek.  ‘You can’t expect my parents to cope with three children every year in the holidays.    And we are catching the early ferry so we can get a good start driving to Brittany.   For goodness sake woman, get a move on’

‘James! Harry!’ Fiona shouted ‘stop that noise and get into the car.  And make sure you haven’t left anything behind.’

‘Potty little place like this, Fiona grumbled at Derek, ‘call it a Premier Inn, more like third class.   That breakfast wasn’t much good’.

It’s fine’, said Derek, totally exasperated with trying to pack their overnight bags while Fiona mooned around doing very little except complain.  ‘It’s near the Ferry Terminal, and it saved us a very long drive all in one day’.

‘Boys’, he suddenly shouted, ‘do as your mother says, stop arguing and get in the car’.

Sarah crept into their bedroom.   At six and a half years old, she could write a short story fairly neatly, could read her favourite story books, knew all her numbers and was a whizz at card games.   She also knew her mother loved her two big brothers more than her, and in fact felt Mummy didn’t really want her.   She had been told she was an accident.   She knew what an accident was, it was something that happened that wasn’t your fault, like when Freddie had knocked into her and she had spilled all the poster paints on the classroom floor.   Her beloved teacher, Mrs.Turner, had told Freddie to be more careful, and said it was an accident, and not Sarah’s fault.

So she wasn’t sure how she could be an accident.      Her two brothers were much older than her.   James was 12 and went to the big school, and Harry was in his last year at her school, both of them ignored her except telling her to buzz off when she tried to join them.

‘Oh for goodness sake, Sarah, get a move on’ grumbled Fiona when she saw her.

‘I have packed’, began Sarah, but before she could say anything else her mother gave her a shove and told her to get in the car with the boys.

‘But Mummy, I need the toilet’ said Sarah.

‘Well go then, and be quick about it’, and Fiona followed Derek out to the car, where she could see the boys chasing each other round the car park.

Sarah went into the ensuite in her parent’s room.   In the room she had shared with the boys, they had flooded the floor, and she didn’t want to get her trainers wet.   She shut the door and locked it, afraid the boys would burst in and tease her.

She carefully washed and dried her hands before she came out, to find that the door of the room was shut.   She opened it, and carrying her knapsack, ran to the car park.     Where had their car gone?   She ran round the car park, but there were only three other cars there, and none of them was theirs.

Slowly she walked back to their room, pushed the door open and sat on the unmade bed.     Obviously Mummy and Daddy didn’t want her.   They liked the boys better, and she had heard her mother say frequently that two children were OK, but a third one just made things awkward.

Sarah was wondering whether she could go her Grandparents, who loved her to bits, and where she was very happy.  Her eyes filled with tears, and Sarah lay down, clutching her bear called Tommy to her, and burying her head in the pillows. It must have been and hour or so later, though Sarah had no watch, and had no idea how the time had passed, when the door opened, and the woman who cleaned the rooms came in.

“Bożeż ty mój! ’, she exclaimed,’ I thought the room was empty!   What are you doing here’?

‘Everyone has gone without me’, said Sarah, and burst  into tears again.

Elita, who was Polish, and who missed her family very much, went over and gave Sarah a hug.

‘We will find them” she said, ‘you come along to Reception and Sandra will look after you’.

Sandra proved to be a very motherly woman, and sat Sarah on a chair behind the desk, while she phoned the Manager.   Then she went and got Sarah a drink, and a big Danish pastry.   Sarah discovered she was hungry, and tried not to get crumbs on Sandra’s desk.

The Police then arrived, in the shape of a Sergeant called Della, who asked Sarah her name and address, and getting the registration of the car from Sandra, talked into her radio to alert the Port Police.   But they soon replied  that  those passengers had not yet checked in.

Social Services then arrived, a harassed looking woman called, it seemed, Rose, who questioned Sarah as to where her Grandparents lived, and their names.     Sarah told her they were Daddy’s mummy and daddy, so had the same name, and they lived near a big castle that belonged to the Queen.   It was near a very big river that went to London, she added.

Mr. and Mrs. Watson senior were eventually contacted, thanks to the Police, and said they would drive down immediately to collect Sarah and take her home with them.    Meanwhile, Sandra agreed to look after her at the hotel, as she was due to end her shift in an hour, and could easily do so.   She had quite fallen for Sarah, who seemed such a bright little girl, and very pretty now she had stopped crying.   She found some board games and she and Sarah played happily until Mr. and Mrs. Watson senior arrived.    They had already spoken to the Police and Social Services, and willingly gathered Sarah up, saying what fun it would be to have her all to themselves.

They kept their opinions of their son and daughter-in-law to themselves until later, when Sarah had snuggled up in bed.

Chapter two

Meanwhile James and Harry of course knew that Sarah was not in the car.  How could they not know when she was always wedged into the corner while the two boys squabbled as only brothers can?   Harry, who was very like Fiona, shrugged off any responsibility and hoped that Sarah was dead, and then he could go back to being the baby of the family, and  not the boring middle child.

James, on the other hand knew he should have said before they started that Sarah was missing, but both boys were frightened of their mother’s volatile temper.   The argument between Derek and Fiona had got very acrimonious, and he was too scared to interrupt.

Tempers had flared into a bitter and vicious fight by the time they reached the Ferry Port, and when they parked, in order to check in, the two boys rapidly disappeared into the Terminal building.   Fiona and Derek hardly noticed they had gone as they locked the car and wearily made their own way to the Terminal Building.

‘God, I need a drink’ said Fiona, as she marched towards the bar.   Derek joined her, although he really wanted to get the check-in process done soon.

Harry found them there, and demanded a coke.

‘Where are James and Sarah?’ asked Derek, returning with the coke.

Dunno’ shrugged Harry after taking a long drink straight from the can.

‘Well, where did you leave them?’ asked Derek, ‘you should have stayed together.’

James suddenly appeared.   ‘Where did you go?’ he asked Harry, ‘I’ve been looking everywhere for you’.

Harry looked at Fiona.  ‘Mum, I’m ever so hungry’.

Fiona got up, ‘come on then, we’ll go and find the café.’

‘Wait a moment’, said Derek, ‘where is Sarah?’

‘You’d better go and find her’ snapped Fiona, James and Harry can come with me.   Really, that child is impossible.   She’s done this deliberately; I suppose she thinks it’s funny.   I’ll give her funny when she comes back’.

‘I’ll go with Dad’, said James quickly,   running after Derek, who had strode out of the bar.

‘Dad…..’ started James, but ‘not now, James,’   barked Derek, ‘Where did you last see Sarah?   Where did you all go?’

‘We were in the shop, but Dad……’  At that moment James’ phone rang.   James listened, his eyes filling with tears, and said ‘Dad….’ But his father snapped ‘not now James, I’ve just told you!’

‘But Dad, its Granny!’

‘Tell her I’ll phone later, come with me, don’t you go and get lost, we’d better report Sarah missing’.

James held the phone out, so that Derek could hear his mother shouting.  He took the phone

‘Yes, he growled, ‘what is it now?’

There was a very long pause.   Then Derek said ‘I see.’ And then ‘thank you, and I’ll turn my phone on.

He gave the phone back to James, and stared at him silently for a moment.

‘Sarah is with Granny and Grandad,’ he said.   ‘Did you know she wasn’t in the car?’

James went very red, and said ‘yes, but you and Mum were arguing so much we couldn’t talk to you’.

‘Come and find Mum and Harry, Derek spoke more gently, ‘and we’ll decide what to do.Harry and Fiona were in the café eating Danish pastries.     Derek sat down and looking Fiona straight in the eye said ‘Sarah was never in the car.   You left her in the bathroom’.

‘Rubbish!’ said Fiona, ‘I told her to get in the car with the boys.   That child is nothing but trouble, and if you hadn’t chosen such a ridiculously early start it would never have happened’.

‘Don’t start that again, said Derek.   ‘You and I have got to have a long talk, but not now.   Sarah is with my parents and they are happy to keep her there while we go on holiday.’

‘How did Sarah get to Windsor,’ asked Harry, ‘perhaps she hitch-hiked’ and he giggled.

‘Don’t try and be funny’ said Derek.   ‘The hotel called the Police, who got in touch with Social Services, and they managed to find Grandad’s address.   And they will be in touch with us when we return.

‘Oh my God’ Fiona wailed, ‘what did they want to involve Social Services for?   Now they will come and ask all sorts of nosey questions’.

‘They will indeed’ thought Derek, but he said instead ‘I’ll go and get checked in, if there is still time, and we can still go on holiday‘.

Fiona pulled a disgruntled face, but the boys both brightened up.   Derek checked in, and very quickly they were on board the Ferry.

‘Sarah would have liked this’, thought James as the Ferry pulled out of Portsmouth into the channel.

The boys had a great time at the camp site.    They joined up with other boys on the campsite, and despite at least 3 languages being spoken, they all made themselves understood to each other, played football, swam, and enjoyed barbecues provided by enthusiastic German parents..

Fiona lay on a sunbed on the beach all day and refused to speak to Derek.   Derek took himself off to the town, and looked round the castle and other ancient sites.    He made sure the boys knew where he was going, where Fiona was, and the Dutch and German parents of the other boys, who could see there was trouble, promised to keep an eye on James and Harry, and in fact were very kind to them, including them in meals and a couple of times, excursions.

When they got home, the acrimonious arguments started again, and Fiona and Derek soon separated bitterly.   Sarah and James stayed with their father in the family home, settled back happily in their schools and with their friends. Harry and Fiona moved to her parents, and got on everybody’s nerves.

Sarah remembered Sandra at the Premier Inn, and sent her a Christmas card, which Sandra put on her desk and kept there for many months, wondering how anyone could forget such a lovely child.

© Gillian Peall

Writes of Spring – April 29th

Some thoughts about writing your first story…

You’ve decided to write a story…
…. Have you got story to tell?
.…or do you just like writing?
Writing is a craft which has to be practised and experimented with. A story has to be worked on and polished as a gem cutter might polish a precious stone, or a jeweller buff up a piece of jewellery, or a wood-carver rub beeswax into a carving.
Some people are lucky enough to be able to just sit down and write but even they ‘dry up’ sometimes.  Like many creative activities writing really is 10% (or less) inspiration and 90+% perspiration.

Some things to consider:

  • Inspiration – you have a brilliant thought, an idea – but how does it start?
  • Your readers – consider who you are aiming your story at, even if it’s only yourself, you want to read the best story you can write

Decisions, decisions…

  • Narrator – who is telling the story? A disinterested, objective observer? A third person telling it from one or several characters’ point of view? One of the characters?
  • Introduction or opening of your story – you might want to work on this once you’ve finished the whole thing, but it is really important!
  • Setting – you know what your setting is, make sure you bring it alive on the page!
  • Characters – your reader wants to know what they look like, and what their personality is… the first has to be considered early on, you may want to real the second only gradually
  • Plot – don’t make it too complicated, but make sure it is intriguing!
  • Language – how are you “speaking” to your reader? Is it your own voice you are using, or one of the character’s, or is it a particular writing voice?
  • Research and Observation – the internet gives you a massive resource, but just watching people in the real world, at bus stops, on stations, in the pub, in the street… that will bring your characters to life
  • Endings – no whimpers allowed, only bangs!
  • The end…   or not! – does the narrative conclude, or is there an open ending, can the reader continue the story in their imagination after the book closes?

If you want to see how we have tackled these issues in or writing, follow these links:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_2?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=lois+elsden

https://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=richard+kefford&rh=i%3Aaps%2Ck%3Arichard+kefford

Writes of Spring – 28th April

When we were at school, sometimes in our English lessons we would be given just a title and told to write something about it, be inspired by it to create a piece of work, maybe in class, maybe at home, maybe in an exam…

We’re offering the same exercise today… and we give you plenty of choice:

  • Amsterdam Moon
  • Dance In The Moonlight
  • End of the Line
  • From Hell To Paradise
  • Harvest Moon
  • Here Comes The Rain
  • Just A Memory
  • Jones
  • Right or Wrong
  • San Jose
  • Summertime
  • The End Of The Line
  • The Only Question Is
  • The Writing On The Wall
  • Things I Cannot Change
  • Things You Said to Me
  • Tomorrow Never Comes
  • Walk a Mile In My Shoes
  • Writing On The Wall
  • You’ll Never Know

You have probably guessed these are all song titles, and while you are deciding what to write, maybe you will enjoy this:

Leaves fall in the cool October air
Days grow short and I can’t remember
Where I saw you last
Turned against the summer light
Walking off on that final August night
I was there on my knees, all alone
In a world
Where nothing ever stays the same
I am left
With only things I cannot change
You’ve gone away
And left me things I cannot change
Smoke will rise
And the fire always burns
Sands will drift
And tides will turn and I can’t
Wrestle with the sea
Rearrange the sky, or fight against the wind
Anymore than I
Can bring you back to me
In a world
Where nothing ever stays the same
I am left
With only things I cannot change
You’ve gone away
And left me things I cannot change
Songwriters: Alan Miller / Dennis Britt / Jaime Hanna

Writes of Spring – April 27th

For today’s inspiration find an ordinary garden or kitchen tool, something everyday and ordinary and use it for inspiration. You could write creatively, or reflectively, or a memoir or family history piece…

Some time ago, Lois Elsden visited a Spade Museum in County Antrim. For her it was a very moving experience, and she wrote a blog about it which we will share:

One of the most moving museums heritage centres I have been to is Patterson’s Spade Mill at Templepatrick, County Antrim in Northern Ireland. I thought, before I had visited, that it would be a water-mill with the paddles shaped like spades, but no. A spade mill makes spades, obviously!
It was fascinating to see the process which goes into making a spade, but what I found really interesting was the fact that in Ireland there were literally hundreds of different spades from massive to tiny, and with all sorts of different shapes to suit the particular digging task, ditching, peat cutting, spades for stony soil, spades for clay soil, spades for sandy soil… hundreds of different spades. Those who could afford it would have a had their spade made to fit, left footed, right footed (get the reference?) and with a haft made to measure their height. My husband had a spade made for him with a handle long enough for his 6’7″ height; he had a Lurgan spade, a long thin, spade to suit the sort of soil we have in our garden.

www.nationaltrust.org.uk/pattersons-spade-mill/

This blog has some great photos and other information:

http://greenwood-carving.blogspot.co.uk/2009/08/pattersons-spade-mill.html

I recommend you look at this virtual tour:

http://www.virtualvisit-northernireland.com/gallery.aspx?dataid=52390&title=Museums+and+Galleries

I got to thinking about Ireland’s history and the spade; the men and women who used these humble tools were experts. They had stamina, strength and skill; they could work for hours in appalling conditions, often ill-fed and sometimes starving. When the horrific years of the Famine came to Ireland and people emigrated in millions many took with them the only skill they had, digging.
It’s thanks to these strong brave men that Britain has its canal system; many of the ‘navigators’ who dug the navigations – the canals, were Irish. Men who dug out tunnels for canals, railways and roads sometimes gave their lives  to increase the prosperity of Britain before and during and after the Industrial Revolution. The underground system in London (and New York and other American cities) and then the motorways in 1960’s Britain… Irish men skilled with their shovels, strong and uncomplaining of the conditions in which they worked and the prejudice they encountered…
I’m not a great poet, but I wrote this poem:

Spade

Would I love my family so much
That I would leave them
And go out into the world
With the only thing I had
My only skill
A spade
To dig?

357 different spades,
One for every different sort of work.
Would I take my spade and go
To where I was reviled
to do the lowest sort of work.
How to confuse an Irishman:
Give him three spades and tell him
To take his pick.
“No blacks, no dogs, no Irish.”
Would I do that?

Would I love my family so much
That I would leave them
And go out into the world
With the only thing I had
My only skill
A spade
To dig?

Tales from the Strangled Ferret – Season 2

Picture credit –  Hannah Tobin.

Tales from the Strangled Ferret.

The Tales from the Strangled Ferret was started when the referendum to leave the European Union or not was first announced in May 2016. The tales carried on through this turbulent episode of Britain’s history until the regular drinkers were safely ensconced in their new pub. Oh, and the result of the referendum was announced.

There was then a lull until the General Election was called in April 2017. This seemed to be a good time to pull back the new curtains in the ‘Ferret and see what was going on inside.

*****

Previously… In Tales from the Strangled Ferret.

Turgid Ales have taken over Wattknees Brewery and planned to close The Bald Badger, one of the two pubs in the village in the interests of increased efficiency. This had been successfully opposed by the villagers who persuaded Turgid that they would only accept the closure of the Bald Badger if Turgid handed over the freehold of the Strangled Ferret at a reasonable price to the community who would develop it as a community pub with a village hall and post office. This conversion would be managed by the village and Turgid would retain the right to the name until the ‘Badger’ was closed. The pub would temporarily named as The Three Crowns’ until it was ready for reopening, when it would revert to its original name and the ‘Bald Badger’ would be closed. It was agreed that Turgid would supply all the beer on condition that it was supplied from Wattknees Brewery with an over rider discount because of the increased beer sales through the one pub. All the regulars didn’t want to accept some inferior outside beer.

Ben had died, poisoned by the new chiral lemons from Israel. The coroner at Ben’s inquest had made several recommendations on the design of lemon slicing stations in pubs – with mandatory extraction systems – and that high left chirality lemons should not be imported into the UK until a breeding program had reduced the chirality to less than 5%.

Lame had got married after his suicidal episode and was now happy settling into married life with Janet on her dairy farm with 76 Friesians. They plan to move into Lame’s cottage once it has been modified and brought up to modern standards.

Jack has taken over the running of the pub conversion project with George now working as the Project Manager. George has surprised everyone as he has turned out to be a star project manager. He has brought the project in with its completion date 10 days ahead of the planned critical path. He has saved money by signing off the contractors early and so has completed the project way under budget.

Ben’s funeral was conducted with his Humanistic wishes kept in mind and Colin Bertram learned how to operate the lemon slicing system with no mishap.

The ‘two lemons bar’ was agreed to be less than tactful so it was renamed ‘The Bald Badgers Bar’ or ‘3B’ as a memorial to the old pub that was in the process of being knocked down to make space for a new supermarket, part of the Tasco chain.

*****

The Strangled Ferret Season 2. Episode 1.

The characters reassemble in the 3B. They meet Mrs Janet Faulkes. Colin struggles with the new, pub – legal lemon slicer. They hear about, but refuse to discuss until the next episode, the forthcoming general election.

*****

The regulars are gathered in Ben’s Bar when the news of a snap election came through…

‘Hello Jack,’ said Colin from his position, hunched over the lemon slicing apparatus where he was struggling with the recalcitrant fume extractor fan.

‘Hi Colin, how are things going?’

‘I think everything is going well except for the extraction system on the lemon slicer. The problem is that the extraction is linked with the slicer itself so if the extraction isn’t running then the slicer itself won’t work. I know it is built like that for safety reasons after Ben’s terrible end, but it is a real nuisance.’

‘Shall I get George to have a look at it?’ asked Jack.

‘Do you think he will be able to fix it?’

‘Well he is an ex tractor fan after all,’ said Jack, ‘in fact he is still very fond of his John Deere.’

‘Huh? Well yes, I have seen his new tractor parked in his special wide space in the car park. There’s no harm in him taking a look I suppose.’

‘OK, he’ll be in later when he finishes off in the project office. He’s just designing the garden and car park layout at the moment. He was going to specify it laid to grass on each side of the pub, but he thought that would look a little four lawn so he is going to have a car park on two sides, a lawn on the North side and flower beds set in the lawns sloping down to the river with picnic tables for families in the summer.

‘How’s he getting on with being the project manager?’ asked Colin.

‘He’s surprised everyone as no one expected him to be this good. I think he has even amazed himself. He is now keen to get qualified so he is taking the PRINCE 2 on- line course and then he wants to take on another project. He is starting with the Foundation course and then plans to go on to the Practitioner course after that.’

‘Wow, is he really serious?’

‘He certainly is, or he wouldn’t be spending all that money. You know George, he wouldn’t spend a pound if a penny would do the job. Look who’s here, it’s Mr and Mrs Faulks – Hatt.’

‘Hi Lame and Janet, congratulations on your marriage and welcome to the Strangled Ferret. What’ll you have a drink – on the house, of course to welcome you to the Strangled Ferret?’

‘Hello, this is Jack and Colin and this is my wife Janet.’ introduced Lame, ‘err, a  couple of pints of Old Mouldy please.’

‘Where are you going to live?’ asked Colin.

‘We’re are living on Janet’s farm at the moment but it get’s a little crowded with 76 cows so we plan to extend and modernise my cottage and then move in there – do you know of any good project managers that could take care of that for us?’

‘As it happens, I certainly do,’ said Jack. ‘George has done a great job converting the ‘Ferret as you can see. He would be ideal for the job.’

‘Do you mean George that drinks in here, he always seemed a little slow to me.’

‘That’s just an act he puts on – he pretends to be the local yokel. He gets to hear more than he should and pulls quite a few free pints that way.’

‘OK, we’ll have a word with him. Will he be in tonight?’

‘Yes, any time now – he’s just finishing off a bit of work in the FPO. Sorry, that’s what we’ve got used to calling the ‘Ferret Project Office – it’s just a TLA really.’

‘What’s a TLA?’ asked Colin, a little unwisely.

‘A Three Letter Abbreviation,’ said Jack.

*****

The door opened in George walked in – right on cue. ‘Hi George, we were just talking about you,’ said Jack. He introduced everyone and then asked George if he had finished work for the day.

‘Yes, I just had to finish off the design for the bakery.’

‘Wow, that was quick, did it take you all day? asked Janet.

‘No, it was just flour arranging really, just like the pub garden.’ said George.

‘I’ve heard from Jack here, that you have been a great project manager for the ‘ferret conversion so I was wondering if you would take on the job of extending and renovating my cottage so that Janet and myself can live there.’

‘ Well, yes, I’d like to but I have my farm to run as well and it has been a bit of a strain doing the two jobs.’

‘How about you send your milkers over to me for the duration of the project?’ suggested Janet. ‘I could see to the milking, feeding and looking after them and I’m sure they would get on well with my herd.’

‘That sounds like a good idea, I expect you will be busy out on the stump for the election, Lame,’ said George.

‘Not likely, I’ve had enough of all that nonsense. When the cottage is finished I plan to concentrate on being a good husband, gardener and gentleman farmer while volunteering for some local groups,’ protested Lame.

‘So at last you’ll be doing something useful,’ said a tactful George. Who are you going to vote for then?’

‘I think that knowledge should be firmly placed in episode 2 don’t you. Let’s all have a drink and forget about the election for now. I’m sure we will be hearing more than enough about it over the next few weeks, don’t you? Cheers.’

The bar went quiet as they all thought about the political onslaught they would soon be facing – while staring gloomily into the depth of their glasses of Old Mouldy.

© Richard Kefford    2017                                                                             Eorðdraca

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