It’s been 24 days since I arrived in St Christopher’s Close. Just a small cul de sac; 15 houses in all. I’ve not had the pleasure of meeting all the residents yet but of those I have, I can vouch most are pleasant enough. As in any place, there are a few oddities but it wouldn’t be right for everyone to be the same.
Whilst it has only been a short amount of time, I have certainly learned a lot about the people I have met and heard some gossip about one or two of the others too. I suppose it’s part of my job description to find out so much; some people would love to have the skills I have but it might only disappoint them. They would probably find they prefer their fantasy world.
Today finds me at Janie and Barry’s for ladies tea and biscuit morning. I think I must be coming down with something to have accepted the open door invitation. I did visit on my first morning in the neighbourhood, took advantage of borrowing some sugar and fled pretty quickly. I really didn’t like the tone of Janie’s voice and the things she did with her arms. I don’t think for a minute that she works out but those arms are big.
I look at the cakes she has to offer. Janie certainly doesn’t go out to impress; a supermarket chocolate swiss roll and rich tea biscuits. At least she has put them on a plate. Karen down the road always makes a superb victoria sandwich and those sweet melting moment biscuits. I am just dribbling thinking about them. Well hopefully Janie’s other friends will turn up with some goodies.
The door bell goes but as I said, it is a bit of an open house so Janie doesn’t have to move from her chair. She tries to put her best telephone voice on and hollers “Come in ladies. We are in the breakfast room today. Thought you could look at the lovely roses I have been growing. I have spent many hours tending them and I am sure you would like the opportunity to appreciate them…”
The breakfast room is just a small extension off the kitchen. Janie and Barry live in one of the smaller houses in the close. I have admired those roses a lot. I don’t think that Janie can take the credit though; Barry likes to escape Janie’s nagging so when there is daylight, he is always to be found in the garden. Janie doesn’t seem to venture out there much. Now I am excited to see who else is here today. Oh no. It’s Anne and Penny. They never say anything; just listen to Janie gossip about everything and anything. If only I could get out of here. It’s so hot. An open window is what you would expect. I am really not feeling myself. How soon, is not too soon, to be seen as being rude to leave?
“And then, after the screaming and swearing, there was lots of crashing and banging. I wanted to call the police but Barry said leave well alone. He just turned up the t.v. I don’t know what he was watching some sort of programme about cars and they were just old ones at that. I really didn’t like the noise and I was so concerned about the kids but Barry just told me to keep away from the window and make him a cup of tea. I really think the kids should be taken away from those two and it is always on a Friday night too. To be a fly on the wall. I wish we could move…..”
I really must be coming down with something, I drifted off but I was soon brought back by Janie’s shrill voice. I’m sure she didn’t take a single breath. Unfortunately Anne and Penny seemed to be enjoying all the details of Janie’s poor neighbours’ fight. I actually feel I know the neighbours, James and Julie very well by now, and they certainly knew how to act well. Their two small children had been on a sleepover at their grandparents so James and Julie took advantage of a bit of free time to rehearse their lines for their local amateur group. Julie has been cast as a villain, which was not her at all; I know on good authority, she wouldn’t hurt a fly. James, hearing and seeing Julie in a totally different light, got a bit amorous. I will leave the rest to your imagination but let me tell you, don’t even go down Janie’s route of gossip. To be a fly on a wall would just not be interesting for her. Thinking about, she wouldn’t have known where to look on Friday!
I see that Penny is making short work of that Swiss Roll. Not a pretty sight at all with her mouth wide open eagerly listening to the gossip whilst waving her hands trying her hardest to swipe something away. I really need to get out of this place. So hot. Trying not to let my head fall on the table. I must try to feign interest in this conversation.
I concentrate on Penny to try to keep upright. Actually she is quite pretty in an odd way. I think she just has the wrong glasses on. Too big for her face. Wow she has the most amazing eyelashes. She is trying so hard to listen to the conversation but she is just swiping her eyes this time. Janie really needs to open a window or she will have us all fainting.
“You should see the outfits she runs in – I really don’t know what she is trying to prove with all that exercise thing and all sorts of times of the day. And the men that go into the house. It just makes me shudder. She stands at the door quite brazen, waving them off whilst they thank her for her services. I would love to be on a fly on the wall. What is this Close turning in to. Can you hear that buzzing…..”
The gossip has turned to the charming widow, Caroline. She took up running when her late husband was diagonised with cancer as a bit of release. She is very creative and was a seamstress by trade. Every now and then, her sewing machine is brought out to alter some friend’s outfit for a wedding. I understand that Caroline and her husband where very much in love and had lots of wonderful friends who like to look out for Caroline now that she is on her own. Measuring Bob’s inside legs for his best man trousers certainly would not have been innocent in Janie’s eyes although I can assure you that’s all it was. That bit was very boring but Caroline’s account of her wedding many year’s ago would have brought tears to anyone’s eyes. Whilst she had that faraway look in her eyes, she actually made you feel that you were sitting right with her as she quoted all the speeches made, the love between the newly married couple and the happiness of it all. She certainly gave Bob some ideas for his best man’s duties.
“She thinks she is wonderful when she brings all that homemade food to the parties. How she has the time and she can’t do any housework. Always too dressed up for that and she rushes out of the door to get her precious daughter to one of her after school clubs. She is quite a charming girl though that daughter; just like her father. Now the bottom on that man. I wouldn’t mind been a fly on the wall in the shower room. Be careful of that tea, Anne……”
I just knew that Karen would be a topic of Janie’s gossip. Janie doesn’t do much in her daily routine but trying to find some fault with the “perfect” Karen is Janie’s mission in life.
I start to swoon as I think of Karen’s lovely cakes; just a crumb would be delicious and the sweetness of the cherries on those biscuits would just be enough. I can certainly see why Anne has spilled her tea; I can confirm that Karen’s husband Joe’s bottom is pretty tasty. He works out all the time. I think he has to; he would be as fat as a pig with all that lovely food Karen conjures up. Mind you, Karen is a dietitian so she does cook healthy meals. She does live by what she teaches though; everything in moderation.
Anne has gone very starry eyed. She certainly has a thing for Joe. I often see her spying out of her window when he returns up from work. Just another of her fantasy world she shares with her vast rag doll collection. She actually makes them and gives them to the local children’s hospital. Before giving them away, she tells them all her secrets; how she would loved to have married and had children but her priority had always to look after her elderly parents who she had nursed until their death. She has spilt her tea and it certainly looks like what I need…..
BANG….the place goes quite dark.
“that fly has been getting on my nerves. That’s got rid of that. Did I tell you about my Charlie. He is just so wonderful……”
Ouch that book is very heavy. I don’t think I am going to make this. I suppose that I have had more than my fair share of life. The fly community must seem very boring to the human, and I admit that we can be very annoying, but we certainly do get to know about people. After all, we are that fly on the wall that you humans would like to be.