15 Jul


Part One of this tale is The Sports People.

Part Two is The Real Simone

Part Three is A Drink in Time

Part Four is A Sunday Lunch for Three

Part Five is Salutary Tales and Downright Lies

Part Six is The Monster Next Door

Part Seven is Quizzing the Night Away

Part Eight is Truth and Lies

Part Nine is The Very Short Skirt

Part Ten is Simone in the Shadows

Part Eleven is To Kill Or Not to Kill


graveyard photo: graveyard thegraveyard3.jpg

When we get there,” said David as the bus bounced along the badly made road, “when we get there you’ll see what I mean.”

I know what you mean, Dave,” smiled Paula. “You mean that we only have one shot at life and we’d best make a good job of it… for our own sake. That’s what you were saying, isn’t it?”

Which is something Simone’s pretty crap at,” nodded David. “Look: we’re nearly there.”

She gazed forwards and saw, through a sliver of windscreen which was all that was left to her between the heads of other passengers, a bus stop with its small wooden shelter amongst what might have been a small forest of trees.

It’s very country,” she said.

That’s why I love it,” nodded David.

They stood up and waited for the bus to stop.

I didn’t have you down as a country boy,” she said.

I’m not normally,” he told her, almost apologetically. “I like my creature comforts like the next man, but there’s more to life … sometimes.”

The bus ground to a halt and the two teenagers jumped off.

David was in jeans and a tee-shirt whilst Paula had chosen to wear shorts and a rock ‘n’ roll top. There was almost a kind of incongruity, with the two of them, townies to the letter, clambering off a bus in the heart of the countryside, surrounded by the luscious foliage of old oak trees and the twittering of birds.

So what are we doing here?” asked Paula, looking around her and taking it all in.

I’ll tell you,” murmured David. “Come on – it’s this way.”

What is?”

You’ll see! When I was at Junior school my mum used to bring me this way when my dad was at work. We’d get off the bus at this stop – it hasn’t changed much, and the way that bus was jolting along it might have been the same bus! We’d be blackberrying – and sight-seeing!”

Blackberrying?” queried Paula.

It was something my mum liked to do. She said it reminded her of when her own mother did this same thing, going on the same bus to the same place. This place! But it’s more than just a few brambles. Just you wait and see. It’s a few years since I’ve been here … but…”

He led her down an overgrown path between two rows of thorny bushes.

It wasn’t this overgrown,” he murmured. “Be careful! Try not to scratch those delicious legs of yours!”

Ouch!” exclaimed Paula, “I have! Is it much further?”

Just a few yards,” sighed David, grateful that he’d chosen to wear jeans rather than shorts, even though it was a bright summer’s day and the sun was already pouring a great deal of heat down onto the world.

Have you brought other girls down here?” asked Paula, a tad grumpily as a hidden nettle flicked against her thigh and tried to sting her.

I’ve never wanted to bring anyone else,” replied David quietly.

Just as well, or you’d have a reputation for shredding girls’ legs!” she told him.

Come on! The worst bit’s over!” He pointed to a low, crumbling wall, all bricks and moss and lichens. “Look over there,” he said.

She struggled towards the wall. There were grasses and clumps of dock which, to her mind, might have been hiding places for a myriad nasty creatures.

It’s quite safe,” David told her.

She struggled to the wall, and peered over.

What is it?” she asked.

There was an elderly couple living here,” said David. “I was hoping they’d still be here. The man had a hobby, building miniature houses and roads and other buildings and setting them out in his garden as if they were toytown! And look: they’re a bit weathered, but still here.”

Is this all we’ve come to see?” demanded Paula.

I thought you might like it,” said David, sadly, seeing her marked lack of enthusiasm as a criticism.

Paula noticed his suddenly quiet mood and realised it might be her fault. “I do,” she lied, then she saw something. “Look! There’s the bus we came on!”

And the bus-stop where we got off, and the trees around it, all the places we might go to from here, the village round the corner, the church, the river, even the old watermill…” enthused David. “But when I was a kid it was all bright and colourful. It’s as if the old fellow finished it, and moved on to something else.”

Paula stared down at the scene so carefully laid out on the other side of the wall.

It’s as if we were on a high promontory, looking down on the world, or gazing out of an aircraft window,” she said, quietly. “I’m glad you brought me here, David. At first I wasn’t, but I am now.”

Is that young David?” came a creaking old voice from the direction of the shrubs beyond Toytown.

Mrs Oliver? My mum used to…”

I know, young man, and you haven’t changed one little bit!”

An elderly woman appeared from between two dwarf apple trees, already red and gold with fruit.

I remember you, all right,” she sighed. “Alfred would have liked to see you one last time…”

Is he…?”

She shook her head. “Look,” she said, and she walked round Toytown until she came to the little church. She pointed to a mound in its yard, earth with grass beginning to grow from it.

Alfred’s there. That was my contribution,” she whispered, “I built his grave. He passed away in the spring last year and now his works are crumbling with him. He used to spend so much time holding back the ravages of time … repairing, painting, polishing … and now, so soon, it’s returning to the Earth, his works, his talents, his skill…”

I’m so sorry!” blurted David, and when she glanced at him Paula saw there were tears streaming down his face. “I wanted it to last for ever!” he said, chokingly, “the building and the roads and the Designer…”

Nothing lasts for ever, you man! And he did love it when your mother brought you here! Several times each year, wasn’t it?”

For blackberries,” nodded David.

And a look at Toytown,” added the old woman, sadly.

And a look at Toytown,” he agreed.

If you go to the church, the real church, you’ll find his resting place. There’s a stone there now, with a space ready for me on it. That won’t be long, I fear.”

We must go, Mrs Oliver!”

Go and say goodbye to him, dear…” invited the elderly lady.

Yes … yes…” muttered David, and he dragged Paula back the way they’d come.

I wanted you to meet him,” he said, still choking, “he created his village … he was its god!”

I know,” soothed Paula, not sure what else she should say.

And he died…”

Everyone dies, sooner or later,” pointed out Paula.

And … and … and it’s too early for blackberries!” whispered David. “Let’s go to church instead!”

© Peter Rogerson 15.07.14



  1. pambrittain July 15, 2014 at 7:48 pm #

    This endearing part of your story wasn’t at all expected.

  2. Peter Rogerson July 16, 2014 at 8:07 am #

    No-one expects the Spanish Inquisition … sorry, I mean no-one expects endearing parts of stories…

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