"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,
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a piercing fire alarm, positive bedlam ensued, as chairs were cast aside for those using them and brakes were sharply withdrawn for this who brought their own, as a torrent of residents and nurses flooded from every exit, with Barry Green not knowing what to do with himself, scurrying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
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