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    It was about time Jean walked into town and the sweet autumn day could not have been more inviting.

   Congratulating herself on her courage- she knows now that that big road does eventually clear of traffic to let her cross and no dog in Thame roams free -  she strode forth beneath a bright blue sky with golden leaves gently tumbling when SHRIEK! She stopped in her tracks.

   Not so much as a bird disturbed the autumnal calm of Fanshawe Road. She moved on again. SHRIEK! Guiltily she lifted her wicker trolley basket into the air and scurried on. The small dog on the corner glared. He knew who was responsible for that sound but he was behind glass.

   She forged ahead and well out of earshot of her neighbours put the trolley to the ground again, lifting it just once by that house on the corner of The Crescent where a big alsatian sits on a sofa, looking out. One wouldn’t want to so enrage it that it hurled itself through the window. He gave her a look all the same.

   Into town the noise became worse. We aren’t talking about a gentle squeak. This is a sound a banshee would envy. People stared. A man opined “You want to put some oil on that.” She hurried into Waitrose and on that floor it was even worse, so bad that she carried it aloft in one hand, her shopping basket in the other. There was only one way. She bought some olive oil and outside, poured a little on some Kleenex and rubbed it over the wheel joints. Proud of her ingenuity she turned for home. SHRIEK!




   Norman and Jean spent the day at Daisymede  mid month. They had a wonderful lunch which lasted till early evening. Alison had bought rabbits from Oxford’s covered market and had them skinned and jointed to her specification. The sauce they were cooked in was memorably wonderful and some time had to elapse afterwards before the company could do justice to her panatoni with mangos, sundry amazing cheeses from the market and cherries dipped in deep dark chocolate.

    The company was good too. The Brands were able at last to meet Annie from the specialist paint shop and her husband David, as well as Richard who very kindly drove them home to Thame again, in the dark, making no bones at all about roundabouts and unlit roads.

   Alison did learn the pitfalls of exposing her friends to her parents, however. In one careless moment Norman let slip that she was born in Leicester. Too late did she try to drown this embarrassing disclosure with the wail,

    “No! No! I’m a North London girl!”

   The damage was done and as the wine flowed Norman found many occasions to refer to that least trendy of cities and the formative two years Alison spent there, particularly her encounter with Arthur Marshall’s prize cabbage.


 It was a long way back to Fanshawe Road. The shopping made   the basket too heavy to lift so she increased speed, realising that the faster she went the less time each house would be subjected to the sound.

    Norman heard her coming - from quite a long way off -

and had his can of bike oil ready.

   Maybe she should just stay at home.