Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Come Back Gladys! - Part 5 of 7

It was early afternoon that the chef delegation set about thinking of dinner, certain that it would be served rather earlier than midnight.  Before a word could be said about dinner, a loud bang was heard from the kitchen door, and Mo Jones wheeled in, followed by Barry Green.
"Good afternoon.  We've come to help!  Good God, it looks like a bomb's gone off!" Mo Jones said in surprise, to which everyone looked around to view the scene of piled trays, one still containing a sticky mess of jam and pastry, topped by two fearfully bent knives; large pans, one thick with hardened sauce, and one of cold pasta; and countless used utensils and crockery.
"Oh, I quite agree!" Mrs Payne said earnestly, "Mrs Marr, might you like to start on the washing up whilst we decide what to have for dinner?"
"Not on your life!" Suzanne Marr said sternly, "You do it!"
"Certainly", Mrs Payne said dismissively, and having carefully shoved the pans on a lower shelf out of the way, said brightly "well, that's the kitchen tidy!"

After quite some scavenging for food, Mrs Payne exclaimed with surprise,
"Well I've found something for dinner!"  All gathered around as Mrs Payne presented the bounty.
"Sherry?" Suzanne Marr questioned with annoyance.
"Cooking sherry!" Mrs Payne replied with pleasure, to which everyone gave an appreciative murmur.
"Are we to have it in a soup bowl?" Suzanne Marr asked sarcastically, causing Mrs Payne to scrutinise the bottle rather closely, and say with some consideration,
"Oh, I'm sure it is useful for a variety of dishes."
"It's quite certainly vile!" Suzanne Marr said with annoyance.

It was some time later that Mrs Payne exclaimed proudly,
"I told you the sherry was of quality!" pouring the remainder into glasses.
"Yes, well it's too late now, there's not a drop left for cooking!" Suzanne Marr said, passing around a glass to each cook.

Much jollity came to the kitchen following the sampling of sherry, and bounding around the kitchen in an excited game to find dinner, Mrs Payne stumbled upon quite a bounty of a previously undiscovered top-opening freezer.  Opening this up much like a treasure chest, the cooks gasped at the bounty.  Suzanne Marr exclaimed turkey fillets were perfect for turkey en-croute if Molly Faith might see about some pastry, a request duly accepted.  Looking further, Barry Green said he could make a devil of a good sauce from the frozen cranberries, although vegetable accompaniments found them rather lacking, settling for some frozen sprouts that would simply have to do.  The mood was cheered by a quantity of frozen fruitcake, which was considered altogether curious, although brightly selected as dessert with custard by Mo Jones.  This having been decided, all set to their cooking tasks, principally of defrosting, with Mrs Payne, declared the expert scavenger, taking charge of finding a cold starter and something to drink.

It was some time later with much crashing that Mrs Payne returned from the pantry, exclaiming as she did,
"Look, I've found some more sherry!"
"Cooking?" the busy cooks queried remorsefully, with Mrs Payne replying proudly,
"Oh, I say" was exclaimed quietly my Molly Faith, being quite missed as Mrs Payne continued,
"That's not all!  Look!" at which she presented several bottles of sparkling wine, which Mrs Payne duly identified,
"Fizzy!"  All were terribly pleased with this, with even Suzanne Marr saying it would make a good match with turkey en-croute.  Counting the bottles carefully, Mrs Payne said with concern,
"We have rather a lot here, and it might taste quite fearful."  All agreed it would be awfully embarrassing to serve fearful fizzy, to which Mrs Payne ventured carefully,

Next part to be published Thursday 1st November 2012, 12pm UK

Thanks for reading.  Remember, I rely on your reactions (and comments) below to write more that you like!  Feedback, both positive and negative is greatly appreciated.

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Come Back Gladys! - Part 4 of 7

Residents were rather late to breakfast the morning following the midnight dinner.  As such Handy Dave steeled himself and had time to carefully toast and fry such that not a jot of smoke was seen from the kitchen.  Roy Brooks was terribly pleased with this, querying if lunch and dinner the day before had gone equally as well, to which Handy Dave said carefully,
"Oh yes, we had beef wellington and chicken en-croute.  The wellington was a bit overdone, but the chicken wasn't!"

Suzanne Marr returned to the kitchen having missed breakfast, looking terribly tired and determined to prove herself quite the chef, despite her raw chicken.  Mrs Payne soon followed, bringing with her Molly Faith, still elated that her tarts had been enjoyed.  It was certain that Suzanne Marr would be positively unbearable if she single-handedly managed to cook for lunch and Mrs Payne insisted there would not be enough food unless they worked together.

Discussion soon turned to what to cook, with much argument as to the chicken en-croute being only minutes from being done last night, and really it was terribly bad luck.  With some concerned looks, Suzanne Marr exclaimed in defense,
"It was only a touch raw!"

Scouring the kitchen for cookable items revealed a distinct shortage regards meat, and further, not a clean tray to be found.  With a bag almost the size of herself, Molly Faith returned from the pantry with some gasping, saying with delight,
"I've found some macaroni!"
Positively collapsing on the counter top, Molly Faith dropped the bag, causing it to promptly burst, with an explosion of dried pasta being scattered across the kitchen floor.  Her small hands failed to stem the flow as the torrent continued, with Molly Faith exclaiming with concern,
"We're leaking pasta!"
The leak having been rectified with judicious positioning of the bag, Mrs Payne set about cleaning up the spilled pasta by expertly brushing of pasta under countertops with her slipper.  The kitchen returned to a working state, Handy Dave boiled an enormous pot of water, and poured in the remainder of the pasta, with much echoing amongst the four that there was certain to be enough for everyone this time.

As the pasta boiled away, much arguing commenced as to the correct cheese for a cheese sauce, resulting in Suzanne Marr and Mrs Payne grating their particular favourite, with Suzanne Marr distinctly ahead on account of Mrs Payne frequently sampling the cheese, explaining as she did,
"Oh yes, this cheese tastes fine.  Best to check."

The cheese and such for the sauce having been jointly deposited in the only other large saucepan that could be found, the kitchen was soon relaxing and talking of the delicious macaroni cheese they were sure to be having, with Mrs Payne exclaiming,
"I say, Mrs Faith, you are clever to find macaroni cheese!"  Suzanne Marr echoed this, with distinct annoyance she hadn't found it herself.  Handy Dave was awfully relieved by the help, saying with gratitude,
"This will be lovely, and there's such a lot we can offer seconds!"

Some time later the sauce was lightly bubbling away, and after some argument as to the meaning of "al dente", the pasta was carefully drained, with such a volume of pasta being cooked that it positively overflowed into the sink, with Molly Faith saying,
"Don't waste any, Handy Dave, we might not have enough for seconds!"

It was a fact acknowledged by all that they had quite a prodigious quantity for seconds.  The pasta having been served into bowls, the pot was still largely full, with some concern that in fact they might have to offer thirds as not to waste it.  Much to the annoyance of Suzanne Marr, Mrs Payne quickly retrieved the saucepan, and having dolloped cheese sauce on each, it was evident that rather an imbalance existed between pasta and sauce, the first few positively overflowing with sauce, and after consideration, the remainder barely containing a teaspoon.
"Do you think it will be a bit dry?" Molly Faith said with disappointment.
"Not a jot!" Mrs Payne said brightly, adding as she began exchanging spoonfuls, "they just need a bit of mixing around!"

Next part to be published Tuesday 30th October 2012, 12pm UK

Thanks for reading.  Remember, I rely on your reactions (and comments) below to write more that you like!  Feedback, both positive and negative is greatly appreciated.

Friday, 26 October 2012

Come Back Gladys! - Part 3 of 7

Mrs Payne, Molly Faith and Suzanne Marr returned to the kitchen late afternoon by way of seeing about dinner.  They found Handy Dave stood in the middle of the kitchen, looking with fear at the stove.  Mrs Payne said carelessly as she took the pan from Handy Dave's hand,
"That's where the food goes, dear."
Relevant supplies having been identified, Handy Dave stood in the corner of the kitchen, looking with further fear as Suzanne Marr exclaimed in annoyance,
"We simply don't have time for beef wellington!  We should make chicken en-croute!"
"Mrs Marr" Mrs Payne replied with amusement, "how might we en-croute a whole chicken?"

The kitchen was soon a hive of activity, with Mrs Payne making beef wellington and Suzanne Marr quite insistent regarding a whole chicken en-croute, both barking orders at Handy Dave, requiring this being sliced, or that being chopped.  Molly Faith worked fearlessly on rolling out pastry, at which she was quite the expert, occasionally asking Handy Dave for a jot more flour.  Two chickens, and two saddles of beef were covered in pastry as Molly Faith continued at a fearful pace, much to the admiration of Mrs Payne.
"You might like to stop now, Mrs Faith" Mrs Payne said kindly.  Surveying her work, Molly Faith saw the trays of covered chicken and beef, and a whole counter of unused rolled pastry.
"Oh dear, I got rather carried away" Molly Faith said with dismay.
"Quite alright, dear" Mrs Payne said brightly, "we might have jam tarts with the remainder!"  At this, much bickering commenced between Mrs Payne and Suzanne Marr regards whether to use marmalade or jam, resulting in both being used, and a fearful race to see who could fill the most pastry cases with their chosen preserve.  Mrs Payne was most displeased as Suzanne Marr filled the last, and in a terrible accident, promptly dolloped a spoonful of preserve on Suzanne Marr's hand, exclaiming with shock,
"I'm terribly sorry, Mrs Marr!" as Molly Faith turned away to giggle rather.

Returning shortly before dinnertime, Molly Faith was delighted to find her tarts looking quite perfect.  The trays having been removed from the oven, the tarts were carefully moved to cool, with a number positively welded to the tray.  Judicious use of a knife by Mrs Payne found no success, except for bending the knife, and as they piled the used trays in a corner for cleaning later, Mrs Payne said with disappointment,
"I'll need a bigger knife".

It was some time later with a full dining room that Handy Dave was sent out to say gravely,
"I'm terribly sorry, dinner will be a while longer.  Would you like a jam or marmalade tart?"  The residents were terribly pleased by these, and nodded appreciatively when told Mrs Faith was the baker.  This was duly passed on, to which Molly Faith was thrilled.

The tarts having been eaten in the dining room, it was nearing midnight that Barry Green appeared in the kitchen, saying optimistically,
"Might dinner be ready soon?  We're fearfully hungry and there's dissension in the ranks!"  Mrs Payne and Suzanne Marr checked their respective dishes, and seeing the pastry looking quite as delicious as the tarts, began taking them out of the ovens.  Each exclaimed with pride of their dishes,
"Oh, they do look good!"  The thermometer was soon prodding the wellingtons, finding them altogether cooked through.  At this Molly Faith began carefully cutting into portions.
"They do look a bit dry!" Suzanne Marr said with satisfaction as she began using the thermometer on her chickens.  After some poking of the thermometer, Suzanne Marr looked quite furious, and promptly slamming the trays back into the oven, saying brightly,
"Just a few more minutes!  Might we wait with the wellington?"  At this Mrs Payne said earnestly,
"Well, we wouldn't want the wellingtons to get any drier!"  At this, Barry Green and Handy Dave began nervously transporting the items to the dining room, altogether avoiding Suzanne Marr's deathly stare.

It was universally acknowledged that the wellington was quite excellent, despite unfortunately small portions owing to a fearful lack of it.  It was past 1 o'clock as Mrs Payne stacked with pride the empty plates for washing tomorrow as Suzanne Marr stared intently at the oven.
"Just a few minutes" Suzanne Marr said sternly, answering Mrs Payne's ambivalent gaze.
"Goodnight, dear" Mrs Payne said kindly.

Next part to be published Sunday 28th October 2012, 12pm UK

Thanks for reading.  Remember, I rely on your reactions (and comments) below to write more that you like!  Feedback, both positive and negative is greatly appreciated.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Come Back Gladys! - Part 2 of 7

All surveyed their sandwiches around Mrs Payne's table with confusion.  The sandwich itself looked astonishingly thin, like a design by a clever artist painted on the porcelain plate.  By way of improving its height, a large sprig of parsley topped the sandwich, such that by way of a passing glance, one may not see the sandwich was there at all.  Molly Faith picked her sandwich up, carefully balancing the thin leaves of bread and what looked like ham, barely thinner than the bread itself.
"It's a bit slighty" she said with disappointment.
"I'd say!" Suzanne Marr said with sarcastic annoyance as she picked hers up also.
"It's quite alright" Mrs Payne said contrarily, as she carefully rolled her sandwich up into a neat sausage.
"Oh, how clever!" Molly Faith said, looking with inspiration at the rolled sandwich, with Mrs Payne exclaiming as Suzanne Marr rolled her eyes,
"I shall call it a rollwich!  No, no.  A sandroll!"

Mrs Payne bit into the roll with an expression of surprise as she chewed.  Suzanne Marr joined in also, promptly removing the item from her mouth by way of a napkin.
"Revolting" she said with unsurprised disgust, putting the sandwich down in annoyance such that the plate bounced.
Finishing their mouthfuls, Mrs Payne and Molly Faith put their sandwiches down also.
"I say, Mrs Faith" Mrs Payne said politely, "is your sandwich a touch sweet?"
"I'd say!" Suzanne Marr interrupted, before Molly Faith had chance to answer.  Carefully peeling the sandwich apart, Suzanne Marr exclaimed with shock,
"It's got sugar on it!  You can see the grains!"
Mrs Payne quite ignored this, saying to Molly Faith,
"I think we might see about something in the kitchen in a moment."  At this Mrs Payne picked up her sandwich roll and sprinkled a little salt on top, explaining in response to Molly Faith and Suzanne Marr's confusion,
"That will balance it out nicely!"

Mrs Payne and Molly Faith set out for the kitchen, followed with some annoyance by Suzanne Marr.
"Knock knock!" Mrs Payne said brightly as she entered.  Handy Dave turned around, his hand on top of a tower of at least a dozen sandwiches being savagely squashed such that a large bread knife could cut the crusts off.
"Hello Bitty" Handy Dave said in reply with much stress.
"I see why the sandwiches are a bit thin" Mrs Payne said nonchalantly, adding kindly "you appear to have used sugar instead of salt though, dear."
"Oh goodness!" Handy Dave said in response, adding with dismay "what will I do with all these?" lifting his hand off the tower, showing a handprint it had been squashed.
"Do you have any qualification in catering?" Suzanne Marr said sharply.
"Oh yes!" Handy Dave said carefully, "two weeks in catering college.  Dropped out after two weeks, but they gave me the certificate in health and safety.  Did you see the professional way I handled that fire early?"
"Get out of my way!" Suzanne Marr said with annoyance, and having cast Handy Dave aside, began making numerous sandwiches with all she could lay her hands on, crafting them with much care and visible deliciousness, as Molly Faith began setting them onto plates.  Handy Dave transported the sandwiches to residents, receiving much praise for quite brilliant sandwiches, with which he replied it was really nothing.  Supplies soon exhausted, Suzanne Marr made four final sandwiches, handing one to Handy Dave by way of reference, and to Mrs Payne and Molly Faith.  Having eaten their sandwiches in the kitchen, Mrs Payne said with disappointment,
"It's a terrible shame wasting those with sugar on", adding carelessly, "by the by, where is the salt?"

Next part to be published Friday 26th October 2012, 12pm UK

Remember, I rely on your reactions (and comments) below to write more that you like!  Feedback, both positive and negative is greatly appreciated.

Monday, 22 October 2012

Come back Gladys! - Part 1 or 7

There was quite some chatter in the dining room one particular Monday morning, both for the reason that breakfast had not been served, and Barry Green was 'doing the rounds'.
"This is quite extraordinary!" Barry Green said without introduction as he approached the table constituting Mrs Payne, Molly Faith and Suzanne Marr.  He had been hoping for some nutrition to be found in gossip.
"Good morning, Mr Green" Molly Faith said warmly, "no sign of breakfast then?"
"Gladys is on holiday.  I can hear some pots and pans from the kitchen, but the shutter is completely down, and Nurse Goode asked I sit down" Barry Green replied with annoyance.
"This is quite ridiculous!" Suzanne Marr exclaimed, both over lack of breakfast and Barry Green's tittle-tattle.
"We've normally finished by now, haven't we Mrs Payne?" Molly Faith said with curiosity.
Suzanne Marr scowled rather as Mrs Payne hummed in reply as she sucked on a sugar cube.

"Nurse!" came an exclamation from the dining room, a remark made more notable by the sound of a somewhat younger voice, and clearly in some distress.
"That's Handy Dave" Mrs Payne said, having finished her sugar cube.  All were most surprised as they turned to find Handy Dave evacuating the kitchen with quite some smoke to follow, at which he exclaimed at some volume,
"Abandon ship!"
All looked most confused at this, and steeling herself, Nurse Goode said calmly as the smoke wafted past,
"Don't panic."  This being somewhat obscured by commencement of a piercing fire alarm, positive bedlam ensued, as chairs were cast aside for those using them and brakes were sharply withdrawn for this who brought their own, as a torrent of residents and nurses flooded from every exit, with Barry Green not knowing what to do with himself, scurrying from group to group exclaiming with bluster,
"Steady now!  Dunkirk spirit!"

Roy Brooks stood in the car park quite beside himself, heart pounding as he surveyed the residents and staff, overhearing excited predictions that it was "quite certain the home will be burnt to the ground!"
"Might it be long?" Roy Brooks asked the fire chief, who was carefully surveying the building and occasionally talking with deliberate tones on his radio.
"Understood.  Front entrance, please." the fire chief said into his radio, before explaining calmly,
"The fire is out but there's still some smoke."  Roy Brooks sighed with relief before saying exclaiming proudly,
"Tip-top!  Terribly brave your men!"  The fire chief surveyed the front entrance as he replied curiously,
"It wasn't one of my men."

Much gasping occurred as the firemen exited, between them a rather disheveled woman, her hair black with ash and morning dress to match.  Walking on, the disheveled woman showed no worse for wear, picking up a slice of toast from a carefully transported plate, and saying as she reached the fire chief and Roy Brooks,
"Morning Mr Brooks.  I think you owe me some gratitude."
"Mrs Payne!" was Roy Brooks annoyed reply, adding with fright, "you could have been burned to death!"
"Nonsense!" Mrs Payne replied casually, "it was only a frying pan!  By the by, you need a new fire extinguisher."
Mrs Payne stood eating her toast as the fire chief gave Roy Brooks quite some dressing down regards procedure.  This having been dealt with, the fire chief thanked Mrs Payne profusely, and begging her pardon, queried why she did not exit sooner.  Finishing her toast, Mrs Payne explained with pride,
"My toast wasn't done!"

Next part to be published Wednesday 24th October 2012, 12pm UK

Remember, I rely on your reactions (and comments) below to write more that you like!  Feedback, both positive and negative is greatly appreciated.

Saturday, 13 October 2012

The Craft Competition - Part 7 of 7

Suzanne Marr was strangely absent from breakfast the morning following the craft competition.  As such, much chatter was to be had regarding previous events.  Flagrant tittle-tattle was exchanged with rumours that Mrs Marr was sabotaging the event all along, caused by an unhappy marriage to a wool shop owner.  This was quite ignored by Mrs Payne and Molly Faith, both of whom quietly ate their breakfast, hogging the butter and toast fearfully, and looking somewhat nervous all the while.

Leaving breakfast, Mrs Payne and Molly Faith were intercepted by Mo Jones' wheelchair.
"Strange turn of events, I should say" Mo Jones said casually.  Mrs Payne studied her for a moment, querying carefully,
"You were right about the knitting style.  I wonder how the judge knew to check?"  Mo Jones smiled broadly, saying with an air of satisfaction,
"Who's to say!  If Margaret, I mean, the W.I. sees fit to check, it might very well be expected.  Good day."  With that, Mo wheeled off up the corridor.

As Mo Jones wheeled off, Suzanne Marr stalked down the same long corridor.  As Molly Faith turned for the door, Mrs Payne ventured with interest,
"Let's wait a moment."
Mo Jones grew smaller as she carefully wheeled away, and conversely, Suzanne Marr grew larger, such that Molly Faith positively shook with the force of her scowl.  Mrs Payne braced herself as the two neared, with an air that they were quite unaware the other was there at all.
"Oh, I say!" Molly Faith said quietly as she tensed for the impact, the two suspended in time as if postponing the inevitable.
"What the devil!" bellowed down the corridor from Suzanne Marr as the two projectiles reached impact, with Mo Jones narrowly missing Suzanne Marr's leg, and barrelling into a nearby plant pot stand, which promptly scatted soil all over the floor, Mo Jones' lap, and Suzanne Marr's sandals.  Mo Jones bellowed with equal fury,
"Mrs Marr, might you be more careful!" as she brushed the soil from her lap, most of which landed on Suzanne Marr's sandals.
"You're a menace in that contraption!" Suzanne Marr shouted back, as she continued down the corridor, leaving Mo Jones wondering what she might do about their new indoor garden.

Standing at the end of the corridor, Molly Faith bid they go to the garden now as she saw Suzanne Marr's full fury at close quarters.
"One moment, dear" Mrs Payne said kindly, "we've not said good morning to Mrs Marr."
"I really think.." Molly Faith said, as Suzanne Marr approached, looking squarely at Mrs Payne and saying tersely,
"Excuse me!"
"Good morning!" Mrs Payne said brightly, and standing her ground with fearless resolve, the lithe Suzanne Marr careered into her, and as Molly Faith flinched to avoid the collision, Suzanne Marr quite bounced to the ground in a heap.
"I say, Mrs Marr, are you alright?" Mrs Payne said with concern, showing barely a stitch out of place for the impact.  Suzanne Marr got up, saying with fury,
"Why don't you watch where you are going!"
"Terribly sorry, Mrs Marr, I was quite stationary" Mrs Payne said casually.
Suzanne Marr said not another word, but as she walked off more carefully than previous, Mrs Payne shouted after her,
"I say, Mrs Marr, there's something on your sandal!"

As Mrs Payne and Molly Faith set out for a turn around the garden, Mrs Payne said with pride,
"Fancy, you coming second!"  To which Molly said rather boldly,
"I came first.  After all, you cheated!"  Mrs Payne smiled affectionately, saying as she handed over a crumpled gift voucher,
"You did come first, dear, so congratulations.  Sorry about the voucher.  I sat on it."

The next ISMP! story will be published Monday 22nd October 2012, 12pm UK

Remember, I rely on your reactions (and comments) below to write more that you like!  Feedback, both positive and negative is greatly appreciated.

Thursday, 11 October 2012

The Craft Competition - Part 6 of 7

Roy Brooks' heart pounded as he sat in his office late morning.  Why didn't he join the police force like his brother, he wondered.
"Mrs Terry, are you sure this infraction stands?  It will cause an awful stink when the results are announced" he said, hoping fearfully for a change of opinion.
"Mr Brooks" Margaret Terry said firmly, "I have been judging knitting competitions for twenty five years.  Do you, or do you not, trust my judgement?"  Roy Brooks sighed.
"So be it, Mrs Terry."

Mrs Payne was sitting in her room, nervously eyeing the mercilessly cut out label from her woollen jumper.  It had been given as a gift by her son-in-law Robert the previous Christmas, and although beautifully hand-knitted, was a quite awful lime colour.
"What a fearful idiot" she said to herself.

Hearing an ever so quiet tap at the door, she exclaimed loudly,
"Come in, Molly."  Quickly, Molly Faith entered, nervously shutting the door behind her.
"I say, this is awful!" she said with a quiver, "you should never have entered!  You're bound to get found out!"  Mrs Payne had a rather sick feeling herself.
"Too late now" Mrs Payne said slowly.  "Are we going to the announcement?"

The whole home had assembled in the day room for the announcement of the craft competition.  Several results had already been announced for other categories, and a number of residents were either beaming with pleasure, or scowling in annoyance.  Mrs Payne was not the only one feeling sick.
"Now it's time for the ... knitting" Roy Brooks announced, clearing a lump in his throat.  His heart pounded as the room washed with expectant silence.  Mrs Payne carefully stepped away from Molly Faith.  It was best not to involve her if there was a scene.  Mo Jones looked at her and smiled wryly, shaking her head ever so slightly.  Mrs Payne struggled to breathe, and was about to dash from the room when Roy Brooks began talking.
"I'm afraid, I have some bad news" he said slowly.  "The rules are quite clear, and I was sure to question the judge on this matter, and rest assured this was solely her decision.  As such, I have to announce disqualification as follows."  The room collectively gasped, as residents and nurses alike looked from one to another in shock at this unprecedented affair.

Roy Brooks continued rapidly "Mrs Rachel Small, Miss Lucy Chalk, …"  As the list continued Mrs Payne looked in shock, open mouthed at Molly Faith, who reciprocated in equal fashion.  Throughout the room similar looks of shock appeared, and cries of disappointment from those listed.  Roy Brooks finished finally, "Mrs Suzanne Marr."  Standing near the stage in expectation of collecting her prize, Suzanne Marr breathed in deeply as chatter broke out.
"Order!  Order!" Roy Brooks said, with renewed energy having got over the worst.  "To be clear, the infractions were regards the particular knit involved.  This was deemed outside of the stated style accepted.  The judge had never seen such similarity in style."  He stopped again and sighed, as there were several utterances around the room,
"Well I never, Mrs Marr!" as eyes turned upon her.  Breathing in deeply again, Mrs Marr paused before exclaiming loudly,
"This is an outrage!"  Gasps, and several utterances of 'Oh, I say!' were expelled from the crowd as Suzanne Marr went positively beetroot red, and after several moments of silence, stormed out of the emergency exit.  A bluster of cold air entered the room, and many pulled their cardigans around them as much chatter broke out on such an astonishing outcome.
"Order!  Order!" Roy Brooks said again, and turning to Nurse Goode, added with exasperation, "this place will be the death of me."

Order having been restored, the results were read.  "Third place goes to: Mrs Mo Jones.  Notes as follows: good overall knit, marked down as incomplete."  At this clapping commenced, and smiling, Mo Jones exclaimed with amusement,
"I would have finished it if Mr Green hadn't tangled my wool!"
"Next, second place goes to Mrs Molly Faith.  Notes as follows: very interesting design, exclamation mark!"  Molly Faith was delighted and graciously accepted the clapping and words of congratulations, exclaiming several times,
"And finally" Roy Brooks continued, with breaks for suspense, "the winner is … Mrs ... Elizabeth Payne!"  Mrs Payne felt even more sick as she went to collect her prize.  Roy Brooks added once she was upon the stage,
"Notes as follows: very highest quality, professional appearance and consistency, double exclamation mark!"  Mrs Payne smiled nervously as she accepted gift voucher prize, and clapping having resumed, quickly left the stage.
"This is an outrage!" Mrs Payne impersonated, to much laughter.

Final (rather short) part to be published Saturday 13th October 2012, 12pm UK

Remember, I rely on your reactions (and comments) below to write more that you like!  Feedback, both positive and negative is greatly appreciated.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

The Craft Competition - Part 5 of 7

Molly Faith was even more jolly than usual over breakfast following her discussion with Suzanne Marr the day previous.
"She was ever so complimentary, Bitty!" she said with delight, "Fancy!"
Mrs Payne drank her coffee, before saying warmly,
"I am pleased, dear.  I'm sure it's no less than you deserve."  Molly Faith smiled at this.  It was one thing to have praise from someone new, but it meant more from her dear friend.

"Good morning" Mrs Payne said graciously, as Suzanne Marr sat down rather late at their table.  Suzanne Marr responded briskly the same, immediately helping herself to coffee.  Mrs Payne looked upon Suzanne Marr carefully as she poured her coffee.  Looking tired, Mrs Payne imagined some time had been spent last night regards knitting.
"Did you sleep well, Mrs Marr?" Mrs Payne said brightly.  Suzanne Marr put her teaspoon down firmly, as she raised her weary eyes to Mrs Payne's, saying equally brightly,
"Quite well, thank you, Mrs Payne."

Toast soon arrived, to which Suzanne Marr rapidly helped herself.  Molly Faith and Mrs Payne looked at each other with concern.  It was a custom vigorously adhered to by residents of the nursing home that when toast was served, it was to be offered to each person in turn as courtesy.  Mrs Payne picked up the toast rack rigidly, saying purposefully,
"Mrs Faith, would you like a slice of toast?" to which Molly Faith replied with equal diction,
"Yes.  Thank you, Mrs Payne."  Helping herself to butter, Suzanne Marr heard this display and understood its meaning.
"I am pleased with my knitting" she said, ignoring the attempt.
"I do look forward to seeing it!" Molly Faith said with excitement.  Mrs Payne reached to the butter dish, carelessly left off the tray by Suzanne Marr.  It was empty.
"Nurse Goode?" Mrs Payne queried with a hint of annoyance.  "We seem to have finished the butter, might we have some more?"  Nurse Goode set off regards butter, as Mrs Payne carefully scraped the residue from the butter dish.  Pleased with her excavations she spread it on her toast, covering all of a fingernail's size and promptly melting in.  Mrs Payne carefully nibbled the buttered corner and put the slice back on her plate.

Having finished her toast, Suzanne Marr looked with a mixture of dismay and amusement as she saw there was not a jot of toast remaining in the rack, and that Mrs Payne and Molly Faith were both sat with a piece of dry toast waiting upon butter.  Something struck her, and she said at once,
"I say!  We probably have the first place, and last place of the craft competition on this very table!  To think!"
"Oh, I rather thought.." Molly Faith said quietly, before Mrs Payne interjected,
"I dare say that you coming last is rather pessimistic, Mrs Marr.  It's terribly nice of you to encourage Mrs Faith, all the same."
"I think we know I meant no discouragement, Mrs Payne" Suzanne Marr said, sharply.  "Still, it is rather likely that Mrs Faith's item does poorly.  I am sorry, Mrs Faith.  Perhaps you might try watercolours?"
Mrs Payne smiled fiercely as Suzanne Marr ravaged her poor friend.
"I, for one" Mrs Payne retorted with carefree ease, "find Mrs Faith's work quite delightful.  I would find much loss in the knitting community should Mrs Faith take to watercolours, although I daresay a lady of her talent may take to anything."
Molly Faith was looking at her toast despondently as Suzanne Marr bid them good morning, with which it took all her might to meekly say the same.

It was some moments of silence later that Nurse Goode appeared with butter.
"Sorry for the delay, Gladys is all a fluster!" she said, the phrase well known for meaning Gladys was cracking under the pressure of breakfast service.  Mrs Payne smiled kindly, and before Nurse Goode had time to leave the table, firmly requested,
"Nurse, might we have more toast, and more coffee.  Might we have a pair of sharp scissors, and might we be quick about it?  Mrs Faith and I have a fearful lot of work regarding the craft competition."  Nurse Goode scurried away at this, exclaiming to herself with concern,
"Oh dear, Gladys is going to positively pop!"

Next part to be published Thursday 11th October 2012, 12pm UK

Remember, I rely on your reactions (and comments) below to write more that you like!  Feedback, both positive and negative is greatly appreciated.

Sunday, 7 October 2012

The Craft Competition - Part 4 of 7

Much jollity could be heard from the day room as Mrs Payne and Molly Faith approached, having discarded two rather bent knitting needles in an outside bin.  Mrs Payne breathed deeply as she entered.  Molly Faith looked upon the room with much dazzlement, as ladies were spread throughout, knitting and laughing, as the gentlemen wound wool or busied themselves with compliments as to progress.
"Oh, how jolly!" Molly Faith exclaimed.  Mrs Payne was about to leave the frightful scene when Suzanne Marr appeared, smiling broadly as she provided several comments of encouragement to those knitting.
"What terrible fun!" Suzanne Marr said with some exhaustion. "I've been providing my little advice all morning and everyone is improving greatly!  I'm rather surprised at the knitting style, however.  Quite wrong.  Still, we all have to start somewhere!"
Mrs Payne smiled kindly through this as she surveyed the room of happy knitters, without a tangle or wool beast in sight.
"With all this help, I dare say you won't have a moment of time for yourself?" Mrs Payne ventured with careless optimism.
"I'm quite sure I'll find a few moments" Suzanne Marr said, rather more seriously.  Mrs Payne feared this to be the case, and became rather more serious herself.
"I certainly wouldn't want to interrupt, please continue" Mrs Payne said with smile, by way of dismissing Suzanne Marr.  This was taken altogether badly.  As Suzanne Marr surveyed her disciples, she said rather loudly to giggles of appreciation,
"Everyone is doing so well!" to which she added at a quieter carefree tone, "so you see there really is no interruption.  Might I provide a little advice on your work?"
The offer was met with stern silence by Mrs Payne, from which Suzanne Marr's eyes were soon averted towards Molly Faith's work.
"Might I see?" Suzanne Marr said, reaching to take the work from Molly Faith's hands.  "I think we might need more light!" Suzanne added, as she led Molly Faith across the room to the window.

Mrs Payne stood for some moments, positively shaking with annoyance.  She did not want to leave Molly Faith, but would be hanged if she was going to trot after Suzanne Marr.  She would have to wait.
"Everyone is doing so well!" Mrs Payne exclaimed in the same manner as Suzanne Marr.  The room was positively silent, with barely a jot of recognition for Mrs Payne's endeavours.  She steeled herself once more and set about seeing the ladies she was more familiar with.
"That does look nice!" she said to one lady, admiring her knitted scarf.  The lady thanked Mrs Payne kindly as she held it up, saying with confusion,
"I got it from Marks & Spencer."

Seeing Barry Green carefully winding wool for a wheelchair-bound lady by the name Mo Jones, Mrs Payne greeted the two warmly, carefully scrutinising the item to make sure it was not from Marks and Spencer, then saying earnestly,
"That does look nice!"  This compliment was gratefully taken, as Mo Jones had conducted quite some argument with Suzanne Marr regards how to knit.  Furthermore, seeing Suzanne Marr quite cut Mrs Payne moments earlier, Mo Jones was quite one to understand the principles of 'the enemy of one's enemy is one's friend'.  Clearing a space, Mo Jones bid Mrs Payne to sit.
"What terribly fun!" Barry Green said, echoing Suzanne Marr.  The two ladies looked fearfully displeased, a vision not wasted on Barry Green.
"Might I get us some tea, ladies?" he said, before hastily retreating.
"Mrs Payne, might you wind my wool?" Mo Jones asked.  Mrs Payne was terribly grateful for this olive branch, and took it gladly.
"I would be delighted" she said with firm resolution, as the two looked from each other to Suzanne Marr, narrowing their eyes such that the combined stare may well have turned Suzanne Marr to granite.

Mrs Payne began winding as she heard with excruciating delight of Mo Jones' argument regarding knitting.  Mrs Payne wound carelessly as she nodded, the two talking in hushed tones, and stealing a look occasionally at Suzanne Marr, as Mo Jones exclaimed in annoyance,
"..and I've never heard such nonsense in all my life!"
Barry soon returned with tea, and Mrs Payne returned the winding duties to him, at which he said with disbelief,
"The wool is all tangled!"  Mrs Payne looked with shock at Mo Jones, and exclaimed with much innocence,
"It was like that when I got it!"

Next part to be published Tuesday 9th October 2012, 12pm UK

Remember, I rely on your reactions (and comments) below to write more that you like!  Feedback, both positive and negative is greatly appreciated.

Friday, 5 October 2012

The Craft Competition - Part 3 of 7

Mrs Payne was sitting in her room preparing herself to knit as Molly Faith came in with her knitting needles and some wool.
"These will be quite alright to make something jolly!" she said, handing the items to Mrs Payne.
Holding the needles upright, Mrs Payne looked at them carefully.
"I shall knit!" she said with vigour, clicking the needles together by way of demonstration.
"I say, you're holding them well!" Molly Faith said by way of encouragement.
"I've been practicing with some pencils, Molly!" Mrs Payne said with pride.
"Oh, how clever!" Molly Faith said with surprise, adding with curiosity "what have you knitted?"
"Nothing" Mrs Payne said carelessly, "but I've blunted two pencils!"

It was some time later that the knitting was interrupted by a knock at the door, and upon Mrs Payne's request to enter, came Barry Green.
"Good afternoon, Mrs Faith.  Mrs Payne!" Barry Green said brightly.
"Good afternoon, Mr Green" was the frustrated reply.
"I say, did a cat get your wool?" Barry Green asked with a mixture of amusement and concern.  Mrs Payne held up the item to survey her work, looking not unlike a rather bad tangle of wool that one might expect in an unused draw.  She prepared some rather sharp words for Barry Green, then placed her needles down in frustration, and hiding any sign of concern, said regally,
"How might we be of service, Mr Green?"
Seeing this as sign that Mrs Payne was not to be trifled with, Barry Green said carefully,
"Oh, you'll never guess what's going on in the day room", and remembering Mrs Payne was not one to guess, added quickly, "Mrs Marr is holding a little knitting lesson!" failing to hide his excitement.
"Oh, how jolly!" Molly Faith said with her own excitement.
"Well, that is jolly", Mrs Payne said woodenly.
Finding his audience rather lacking, Barry Green wished them good day, adding as he went back to the excited fray of the morning room,
"I do hope you catch that cat!" deftly shutting the door before Mrs Payne had chance of reply.
"Well he's not having one of my jumpers!" Mrs Payne said in annoyance.

Mrs Payne returned to her knitting, picking up the needles as she had left them only to find the wool even more tangled than before.
"This wool has a mind of its own!" Mrs Payne exclaimed with horror as she tried to pull the needles from within.
"Don't pull dear, it will only make it worse!" Molly Faith said with concern.  This was fearlessly ignored, as Mrs Payne went positively red as she tried to wrestle the needles free.
"The beast has got hold and he's not letting go!" Mrs Payne said, teeth gritted in the heat of battle.  After some time the beast loosed his grip, and one, and then the next needle came free.
"Oh, I say!" Mrs Payne gasped with relief as she recovered herself.  Mrs Payne held up the needles, and looking most sorrowful, said to Molly Faith with dismay,
"The beast has terribly bent your needles, Molly.  I am sorry."
"What a fearful beast" Molly Faith said looking at her needles with disappointment.

Next part to be published Sunday 7th October 2012, 12pm UK

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

The Craft Competition - Part 2 of 7

"I'm sorry, Mrs Payne," Nurse Goode said with concern, "I'm afraid we don't have any more toast.  You will have to make do with what you've got."  Mrs Payne smiled graciously.
"Quite alright that you had the last slice, Mrs Marr."  Suzanne Marr smiled briefly, as she continued to add jam to her toast.  With brilliant strategy, Roy Brooks, the home manager, had assigned Suzanne Marr to Mrs Payne's breakfast table, not only for logistical reasons, but to defuse Mrs Payne's fearful habit of causing trouble.  Mrs Payne had greeted Suzanne Marr warmly, whilst eyeing Roy Brooks with some disdain.

Molly Faith plucked up the courage to speak.
"Might you enter the craft competition, Mrs Marr?"  To this Suzanne Marr said with amused condescension,
"A craft competition, how, delightful!  I haven't made anything since I was a girl and won the village show every year."
"Delightful", Mrs Payne and Molly Faith said in unison, hiding Mrs Payne's slightly irritated tone.
"Then you're sure to win if you enter!" Molly Faith said with excitement.
"I dare say I can try", Suzanne Marr replied, already rehearsing her winning speech.
"Oh, how jolly!" Molly Faith replied, adding, "Mrs Payne doesn't believe in the craft competition, do you dear?"
This gave Mrs Payne quite a start.  Relaying information as to one's likes or dislikes with such a new resident was quite out of the question.  Mrs Payne smiled as she spoke carefully.
"I haven't yet decided", Mrs Payne said cryptically.  Molly Faith looked confused, but said nothing, realising her error.
"Not everyone has the skill required, Mrs Faith, I quite understand", Suzanne Marr replied.  Mrs Payne steeled herself to this affront, and smiled as she responded,
"I dare say I could make a little something.  I am not adverse to winning a little competition myself."
"Oh, how jolly!" Molly Faith exclaimed, "it will be a fierce competition, I dare say!  I'm sure my meagre entry won't come close!"  Mrs Payne and Suzanne Marr looked at each other directly in silence, smiling with increasing graciousness.  Molly Faith looked between the two, neither of the two noticed her say under the breath,
"Oh dear."

Escaping from this trance, Suzanne Marr removed the napkin from her lap, saying woodenly as she did,
"Good morning", and with echoes of the same, Mrs Payne and Molly Faith were left at the table.

"I say, Bitty, I didn't know you could knit!" Molly Faith said with excitement.
"I can't dear, but I intend to teach Mrs Marr a lesson in who might have the 'skill required'", Mrs Payne said in annoyance, mimicking Suzanne Marr's regal sounding voice.  Mrs Payne shook slightly, before exclaiming,
"Fearful woman!"  Molly Faith looked worried.  Mrs Payne relaxed and smiled, saying with reassurance,
"Won't it be fun, dear!"
"Yes, Bitty", Molly Faith said as she smiled nervously.

"Might you teach me to knit, presently?" Mrs Payne asked, picking up the coffee pot.
"Oh, certainly, Bitty, but," Molly Faith thought carefully for a moment, "do you really want to do it?  You know from my knitting, it's a devil of a lot of work."
"Yes, I think I should", Mrs Payne said carefully.  She brightened as she said optimistically, "It's just knit pearl, one pearl, isn't it?"
"Well..", was all Molly Faith could say before Mrs Payne poured a drop of coffee thereby emptying the pot.  She put it down with a slight clatter before exclaiming with fury,
"That woman!"

Next part to be published Friday 5th October 2012, 12pm UK

Monday, 1 October 2012

The Craft Competition - Part 1 of 7

"Would you like another slice of toast, Mrs Payne?" Molly Faith kindly offered, despite having only had half a slice herself.
"I rather think I would.  You are a dear" Mrs Payne said in reply, smiling broadly as she helped herself to butter.
The morning at the nursing home found Mrs Payne in an usually good mood.  Provided with an abundance of coffee of passable quality, and toast and butter rather better, Mrs Payne was in her element.  Sitting on a lone table with only her dear friend Molly, Mrs Payne surveyed the dining room of bustling residents and nurses.
"Nurse Goode?" Mrs Payne asked graciously, "might dear Mrs Faith have some more toast?  She's terribly hungry."
Waiting until Nurse Goode had set about her task of retrieving some more toast, Molly Faith said quietly,
"I say Bitty, I'm quite alright for toast, thanks all the same."  Mrs Payne seemed altogether unconcerned, saying with pleasure,
"Oh dear!  Well, I shan't waste it!  I positively insist you have at least another half a slice, however.  I shall polish off any remaining crumbs."  Nurse Goode presently deposited a carefully arranged toast rack.  Mrs Payne was pleased.
"Oh, four slices, what a lot of toast!  I don't know how we might finish it!  Toast, Mrs Faith?"  Placing half a slice onto Molly Faith's plate, Mrs Payne surveyed the remainder carefully, saying with some thought,
"I say, I think we might need more butter."

As Mrs Payne began buttering, Barry Green sat down uninvited at their table.  Barely having nibbled the corner off, Molly Faith put down her slice of toast, saying with a smile,
"Good morning, Mr Green", to which he reciprocated warmly,
"Good morning, Mrs Faith, you're looking lovely today!  Good morning, Mrs Payne, you are looking lovely also!"
A quality buttering of toast required some concentration, and Mrs Payne scrutinised her slice carefully whilst greeting Barry Green,
"Good morning Mr Green.  Any news to report?"
"Rather, I'd say, Mrs Payne!  I do say, rather!"
Mrs Payne looked up as she began eating her toast, and waited for Barry Green to expel his news, whilst carefully moving the toast rack towards her plate.  Barry Green was prone to taking toast from a foreign table, and that would never do.
"Guess!" Barry Green said, with fearful smugness.
"Oh, a game, how jolly!" Molly Faith said brightly.  Mrs Payne was not amused.
"I do like toast" she said dismissively, taking another bite.
"Oh alright", Barry Green said with disappointment, "we've got a new resident!"
"Oh, how jolly!" Molly Faith repeated, pushing away her uneaten toast.
"Quite!" Barry Green exclaimed, adding detail of a rather well-to-do lady arriving later that day named Mrs Suzanne Marr.  Molly Faith was thrilled,
"To think, such excitement in the same week as the craft competition!"
"I'm not sure it's as exciting as all that, dear", Mrs Payne said kindly.
"Sorry, Bitty", Molly Faith replied, "I forget you won't abide the craft competition, although it is such fun!"
"Quite", Mrs Payne said quietly.  "All the same, it will be nice to have another resident."

"Right!  Best be on manoeuvres", Barry Green said, to which he meant a turn around the grounds.  At this he deftly retrieved a slice from Mrs Payne's toast rack, leaving Mrs Payne only to exclaim in annoyance,
"What the devil!"
Barry Green passed through the dining room, stopping occasionally, no doubt to pass on further news.
"I don't know how I abide that man!" Mrs Payne said, still annoyed.
"He does bring us all the news, Bitty.  I find him rather dapper!" Molly Faith said coyly.
"Molly, you are naughty!" Mrs Payne said with amusement.  Looking down at the toast rack, Mrs Payne was further annoyed,
"He took the best slice!  That scoundrel!  Nurse!"

Next part to be published Wednesday 3rd October 2012, 12pm UK