There was much talk the morning following the turkey en-croute meal, albeit rather lethargic in its delivery on account of ill effects of the champagne. A simple breakfast having been provided by Handy Dave, served on a stash of paper plates he had found. Mrs Payne, Molly Faith and Suzanne Marr sat at their usual table in reasonably affectionate spirits. Mrs Payne had seen to it there was a prodigious amount of toast and butter such that the usual bickering over etiquette and quantities was allayed.
"I say, I've been thinking about our meal last night" Molly Faith whispered, such that Mrs Payne and Suzanne Marr were both strained to hear and wildly interested.
"Yes?" Mrs Payne said with curiosity.
"Turkey, sprouts, cranberries and champagne. It's like they were meant to be eaten together."
"Well, they were in the same place." Mrs Payne said with bafflement.
"What else was there?" Suzanne Marr said with concern.
Mrs Payne thought for some moments, and said carelessly, "oh, I moved a couple of cardboard boxes. I think they had Christmas decorations in."
"Oh dear" Molly Faith said with dismay, as the three went silent. Suzanne Marr was first to speak, saying with some annoyance,
"Looks like Christmas is cancelled!"
Mrs Payne and Molly Faith helped Handy Dave clear up, feeling altogether sick regarding the Christmas bounty.
"Handy Dave, when is Gladys returning?" Molly Faith said hopefully.
"She's back at lunch, thank God!" Handy Dave said as he piled the paper plates into the bin. He looked around at the dirty trays and plates that had been mindlessly stacked without a care.
"Do you think Gladys will mind?" Handy Dave said innocently.
"Oh, not a bit!" Mrs Payne said brightly. "I'm sure there's a dish wash-chine around here somewhere! It'll be done in a jiffy, and we wouldn't want to use it without proper training."
Mrs Payne looked again at the odd jam tart still welded to the trays, upon which lay four bent knives.
"Such a waste", Mrs Payne said gravely.
Following Gladys' departure it was a habit that rather on the "Q-T", elevenses of toast were sought by Mrs Payne. As such, she was in the kitchen, watching with delight the red glow of the toaster as she ate her first two slices of toast with not care in the world. Handy Dave was trying to fix a cooker knob, which Mrs Payne had explained, by the by, had inexplicably come off.
"Merciful good Lord above!" Gladys shouted in an usually high pitch as she saw in fright the state of her usually spotless kitchen.
"Roy asked that I see about meals" Handy Dave replied by way of explanation.
Taking her coat, she found her usual peg occupied by dripping wet and slightly charred tea towel. Gladys picked this from the peg, with both Mrs Payne and Handy Dave cowering rather as Gladys positively shook with rage. Throwing the tea towel to the ground with a splat, Gladys hung up her coat, and barging back out of the door, Mrs Payne and Handy Dave heard her as she stormed away shouting
Mrs Payne buttered her toast vigorously, caring not a jot for coverage and evenness, saying with unusual concern,
"Oh dear!" With terrible nerves, Mrs Payne positively jumped as Gladys cannoned back into the kitchen with Roy Brooks in tow, shouting at quite some volume,
"Have you see the place, Roy! What happened to the cook I booked!"
Roy Brooks said nothing for some moments, surveying the mess and mirroring Handy Dave's expression of a deer in headlights.
"I say, it is a bit messy, Dave!" Roy Brooks said, attempting to sound as calm as possible.
"I was going to start cleaning presently, Mr Brooks" Handy Dave said quietly.
"What's Mrs Payne doing in here?" Gladys queried sharply.
"Oh, she helped!" Handy Dave said proudly, adding by way of fairness, "we had several residents help!"
"You can't have just anyone cook!" Gladys exclaimed in shock, adding carefully "no slight intended, Mrs Payne."
"Mrs Payne was awfully helpful!" Handy Dave said with unwise braveness, adding earnestly, "she put the fire out!"
"Fire!" Gladys exclaimed loudly again, looking with fury at Roy Brooks.
"I say, it's not all that!" Roy Brooks said nervously.
"Right, that's it!" Gladys shouted, grabbing her coat. "Dave! Get this place clean!"
"Gladys!" Roy Brooks shouted as Gladys stormed out. "Mrs Payne, help Handy Dave tidy up!"
Mrs Payne positively dropped her toast at this, shouting as she went,
"Come back Gladys!"
Next story will be published Monday 12th November 2012, 12pm UK
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