Happy New Year.......Tale 87 https://www.dollshousespastandpresent.com/apps/photos/ Happy New Year.......Tale 87 Cedric Valley ruefully surveyed his new premises. Not quite what he had hoped for but antique furniture was so hard to find these days. Brown Furniture to him meant 16th, 17th and 18th century furniture but this utility post-war Dol-Toi seemed to be all that he could find . He was toying with the idea of calling his new shop "Hill and Dale* - a play upon his name and that of his hated rivals up at Hill House - but on the sobering consideration that his shop's stock was so inferior compared to theirs, that he felt perhaps this was not the right moment for open warfare. https://www.dollshousespastandpresent.com/apps/photos/photo?photoID=204759090 204759090 Perhaps not a precipitous moment to start annoying people. Maybe "I saw you coming" or "There's one born every minute" would do; he had seen such fantasies on shops in Hampstead with outrageous prices upon their goods. But best tread carefully, he had sensed a hostility within the village upon his arrival. These feudal places possibly held a witch or two, up at the Old People's Home at Knaresbro' Lodge, he'd put a small bet on that Edith, in her stained black taffeta dress being one. Wasn't she Oscar's mother? Best err on the side of caution for the time being. Just then, he saw someone coming. Three people in fact. He rubbed his hands in eager anticipation. https://www.dollshousespastandpresent.com/apps/photos/photo?photoID=204759091 204759091 Three untidy bridesmaids pushed in thorough the door. gossiping and giggling. "Always the bridesmaid, never the bride" said the blue one, flinging open a wardrobe door. "But I don't see why that should bar us from buying furniture for our future homes", said a pink one whilst the third stood entranced in front of the colour telly. https://www.dollshousespastandpresent.com/apps/photos/photo?photoID=204759092 204759092 "No-one, I repeat NO-ONE has a colour telly in the village. We would be the Most Popular Girls In The Village if we had one - and men" - here she paused for dramatic effect, "men would come in droves...." here her voice faded away and she rolled her eyes suggestively. "DONE!" said the blue one, reaching into her grubby bodice for a wadge of cash.....and handing it to the open mouthed Cedric https://www.dollshousespastandpresent.com/apps/photos/photo?photoID=204759093 204759093 they carried it out and loaded it onto a huge perambulator (as Maids, Cedric wondered why they owned such a thing...) and followed by a quartet of pale grey Scotties, who were feeling the cold and not their usual jet black selves, they all set off down the snowy hill. https://www.dollshousespastandpresent.com/apps/photos/photo?photoID=204759094 204759094 That evening, as he retired to bed he noticed to his horror.... HIS ROOTS WERE SHOWING! His life-long battle with the bottle was active again. What to do?There was no hairdressing salon in Greconville - and anyway, that would be a lost cause. Gossip was rife in the village and before he was even under the dryer - EVERYBODY would know his little secret. "Curl up and Dye" supposedly the best hairdressers in all the kingdom, was too far away for him to visit. Anyway, he had heard that the proprietors, Guy and some other chap, were just as gossipy as most Grecons, so the idea of a visit there was quite impossible. Oh, what was he to do? A trilby hat would cover the first inch or so, but that was not the answer. He wrung his hands in complete despair as he could imagine Bryan and Oscar - especially that Oscar, collapsing into joyful mirth at the sight of his dark and betraying roots. He spent a sleepless night contemplating this terrible problem. https://www.dollshousespastandpresent.com/apps/photos/photo?photoID=204765834 204765834 The girls returned the next day and purchased more of his "brown" furniture. They asked for it to be delivered - the pram had it's limitations! When he had arrived and hauled it all in - with their help - they were surprisingly strong beneath their silken gowns, he was amazed to find a great spread of delicacies arrayed upon the newly bought table. All this had appeared whist he was washing his hands. Miss Blue gave him a sharp gaze. "Your roots are showing!" she said in a loud whisper. Cedric blushed. He had forgotten to wear his hat and anyway, he would have had to have taken it off when entering the cottage. The other two turned around and started giggling, but after they had eventually wiped the tears of laughter from their pretty eyes, they gave him a doughnut and then took him up to their washbasin and bleached him up to Hollywood standards! "We use it all the time" one of the pink ones said "but don't tell a soul" "Ditto" said Cedric, patting his newly brightened curls. "Well, my darling, you look just like a little angel now" said the blue one, "Even if you're not my type, very tasty now - to the right customer! Now eat up, we made all this spread for any gentleman who happened to be passing and seems like your'e the lucky one!" https://www.dollshousespastandpresent.com/apps/photos/photo?photoID=204769908 204769908 Cedric settled back into the far from comfortable armchair that he had just sold them. "Thanks, girls,"he said. "Love you lots. Now, any ideas how I can upset that uppity Oscar and Bryan?" The atmosphere dropped several degrees immediately. "Nah love, we adore Bryan, right softie he is - we know that Oscar is a bit of a tart but still -no ways, mate! " Cedric gave an inward sigh. He might have guessed this, was there any way that he could sabotage Hill House Antiques? His pride was still ruffled - how had he ended up with a chilly market stall and a tiny shop selling secondhand furniture, whilst THEY appeared to prosper. He, Cedric, had come from a hard school - Mummy having died from arsenic poisoning - that was from when she dyed her hair green, and Daddy had ended up in jail but leaving his son yearning for the high life which they had enjoyed for a few short years before the law caught up with him. Here was the reason for his deception about his life style, in truth he knew little about antiques and had made some bad mistakes - selling good items too low and asking overly inflated prices on mundane items. He hated Oscar and Bryan because their knowledge was so much greater than his, but his face betrayed none of these thoughts as he munched on his second doughnut. Was there any way that he could use these girls in his evil plans?Somehow he doubted it..... https://www.dollshousespastandpresent.com/apps/photos/photo?photoID=204770050 204770050 That cold winters night, back in Azuza House, Mrs Wings was preparing do some overtime.... Flinging aside her warm and sensible coat she was intending to do some amazing and eye-popping moves with her feather boa. Oriel sat up in the ancient bed and hoped that his dicky heart would take this impromptu entertainment. Mrs Gladys Wings, it must be admitted, has an ulterior motive for this unexpected display. Her friendship with Oriel having warmed considerably over the years that she has been employed by the "American gentleman" - indeed having grown so warm over the month of December that Oriel no longer requests that she fill his stone water bottle any more, and so it lies, discarded by the bed. But today a letter had arrived from the Convent of St. Mary in Whitby with some serious news for Mrs W and she needed Oriel's help to sort out this unexpected turn of events.So, with a naughty twinkle in her eye, she ripped off her skirt and flung the boa into the air and..... https://www.dollshousespastandpresent.com/apps/photos/photo?photoID=204787028 204787028 Her predicament had arrived in a letter that very morning. The sudden dumping of her niece upon her. The child was being educated at a convent in Yorkshire - she was the daughter of her sadly deceased sister, who had died as the result of an unfortunate dyeing lotion at her hairdressing salon in Worthing a year or so back. Caroline, her daughter, had been left at the convent until now....and NOW it turned out that her fees were not being paid! Not surprising really, since her father was on "vacation" at Her Majesty's pleasure and now the ill-gotten gains seemed to have run out. She wondered what had happened to Caroline's brother, Cedric. She hadn't seen either child for many years but remembered them vaguely. Cedric had been a bit of a "little madam" but Caroline has seemed a pleasant enough child. What would she be like now - and would Oriel allow her to come and stay. There seemed no other option since she had given up her council house when Oriel had become so ardent in his wooing of her. Perhaps she, Gladys Wings, had made a Big Mistake. Still, as an ex-Windmill girl - so tall, she had talents that her American lover had not yet tasted. So surely that old feather boa, a souvenir of her ex-show girl days would come into it's own . She had certainly had them hanging onto their seats back in the 1940's, and she had her new red shoes too......irresistible. https://www.dollshousespastandpresent.com/apps/photos/photo?photoID=204789998 204789998 The feather boa completed it's wicked work most successfully and by Friday a slightly bewildered Caroline was standing in the hall. She hadn't seen her aunt since she had been little more than a baby so was not aware as to how Auntie had altered over the years. From once being a glamorous exotic dancer to the dreariness of dusting and cleaning for others - and now her re-birth! Oriel was putty in her hands - and she was a formidable height compared to him, so maybe a certain element of fear and unexpected excitement was a part of their strange coupling. Luckily Caroline had not grown so lustily on the meagre diet that had been on offer at the convent. https://www.dollshousespastandpresent.com/apps/photos/photo?photoID=204793209 204793209 Exploring the village the next day, and seeing a somewhat tatty second hand shop, she pressed her nose ro the window and was most disconcerted to see a familiar face inside the shop. It was her brother, Cedric! Little love was lost between the siblings and Cedric had always been inordinately jealous of Caroline's naturally flaxen tresses. She dithered. Should she go in and make herself known or just slink away? She decided on the former - if she was going to be living in the village with Auntie Gladys they were bound to bump into each other at some point. Best get it over and done with right away. She opened the door.... https://www.dollshousespastandpresent.com/apps/photos/photo?photoID=204795399 204795399 She eyed him up and down very disparagingly. "Whatever have you done to your hair?"she enquired, "it looks very common" "Common" had been a favourite word of their mothers. Cedric was quite sure that the three Bad Bridesmaids would have come under that heading were his mother still alive - but he was mortally offended to have such a title from his snobby sister. "So why are you here?" he asked, ignoring her embarrassing question. "Daddy is inside and the money for my school fees ran out, so I am staying with Auntie Gladys who does everything that you can think of for a funny old American man. She is ever so nice and smart and says that her son - do you remember Bingo? - is in a pop group somewhere. She seemed a bit vague about him actually, as if she had almost forgotten all about him. She hardly remembers you either, so if she had seen you - "she suckedin her breath,"especially with that weird hair, I don't expect that she would have recognised you" Cedric's thoughts were racing - that American gent was worth a mint, so it was said. Perhaps he could acquire some of it for himself, especially if Auntie G had got her feet well under the table...."I'd like to come up and meet darling Auntie again - and the gent. too, of course" Caroline glared through her National Health spectacles at him. "I think a blue rinse would be advisable before Auntie sets eyes on you." "I don't know what you are talking about" Cedric snapped, patting his hair protectively. "It's completely natural...a sort of early grey" he quickly improvised. Caroline strode out of the shop, head held high. Cedric had always been one to tell whopping fibs. https://www.dollshousespastandpresent.com/apps/photos/photo?photoID=204798015 204798015 Upon returning to the house, she folded her coat neatly on the chair and observed her aunt and Oriel. The feather boa was present and Gladys was being very attentive to Oriel's needs.Caroline noted the thick coating of dust upon the sideboard and wondered some more. "I have a surprise for you, Auntie" she said. "I'm not really sure if it is a nice surprise or a very nasty one" "Don't talk in riddles, girl" said Oriel testily, reaching for the bottle of Jack Daniels. "Well, it's just that I have seen my brother Cedric here, in the village, today!" Gladys didn't look best pleased. One relative was quite enough for her, however was she going to cope - just when she and Oriel were getting along so well together. "I'm sure that Cedric is quite old enough to look after himself," she said crisply,"but I suppose that we had better ask him round for tea one day". https://www.dollshousespastandpresent.com/apps/photos/photo?photoID=204798937 204798937 Up the road at Charleston everyone was standing around admiring Quentin's attempt at making a tea service. "The boy is improving" said Duncan with satisfaction. He had hated drinking from some of the misshapen creations that Quentin had so often inflicted on them. Vanessa heaved her bosom with maternal pride. Everyone had been hard at work with their creations over the winter months and Angelica and friend were upstairs.... https://www.dollshousespastandpresent.com/apps/photos/photo?photoID=204832466 204832466 admiring the American style quilt that Vanessa had produced during the dark evenings whilst being read to by Roger Fry. https://www.dollshousespastandpresent.com/apps/photos/photo?photoID=204832467 204832467 And Quentin's tiles! Duncan had not fixed them very well as yet, but it was a start, https://www.dollshousespastandpresent.com/apps/photos/photo?photoID=204832468 204832468 as were the smaller scale ones by the basin. "Do you think all this colour will induce Duncan to bathe once a week?" asked Angelica. "I doubt that very much" replied her friend. They trooped down the stairs for a nice cup of tea from the new teapot. https://www.dollshousespastandpresent.com/apps/photos/photo?photoID=204832469 204832469 Caroline, consumed with curiousity about Cedric, never mind his roots, set off to find his shop again. On her way there, a serious case of coat envy happened. Olive and Jo, out for a walk, stopped in amazement. Caroline's coat matched no other to be seen in Greconville! They stood silently, eyeing each other like suspicious dogs. Jo was the first one to speak. "I love your coat," she said,"Wherever did you get it from?" Caroline, on the other hand, was filled with desire for lovely knee socks like theirs - at the Convent they had to wear grey stockings and no-one had thought to change that since she had left so ignominiously. https://www.dollshousespastandpresent.com/apps/photos/photo?photoID=204840771 204840771 Just then all thoughts of fashion fled from the three girls' heads. Hearing the sound of marching boots they turned as one and all theirs jaws slowly dropped. https://www.dollshousespastandpresent.com/apps/photos/photo?photoID=204840870 204840870 Coming towards them ast a smart pace were three handsome young men in spic and span uniforms....... "Goodness gracious" thought Caroline, "Maybe this village isn't quite as boring as I thought that it would be. Beats the Convent every time!" https://www.dollshousespastandpresent.com/apps/photos/photo?photoID=204840871 204840871 Cedric was fretting in his shop. He had got carried away in the auction house and bid very highly on some brown furniture items. In the cold light of reality, he realised that it was going to be extremely hard to recover his money on re-sale.The funds of most families could not be squandered on such profiteering. There could be a big four figure gap in his bank balance....he certainly wouldn't be able to afford a hairdresser at this rate. Would he have to purchase a trilby to cover up those naughty little roots? https://www.dollshousespastandpresent.com/apps/photos/photo?photoID=204843395 204843395 Gloomily he considered the pianos. He would have to charge two Grecon grands each on these three legged beauties to even see his wild investment back. And who needed a piano in Greconville? They had them already - well, the ones who wanted them like the de Woodfords. They weren't very musically inclined up at the Towers. He had a wild idea that he might move one on to Hill House Antiques, but when he thought of Norah and her grim expression every time she saw him, he thought perhaps not! At that moment, he raised his eyes and saw Caroline observing him rather coldly through the window. "Could life get any worse?", he thought. https://www.dollshousespastandpresent.com/apps/photos/photo?photoID=204845466 204845466 But just then several things happened all at once. Caroline's inquiring face vanished as, with a great snorting and changing of gears, the Geek's lorry rumbled up. "Got anuvver load fer you" the Geek shouted above the roar of the engine, "an' a nasty surprise an' all - them pianos 'ave gotter go back - yer cheques bounced!" https://www.dollshousespastandpresent.com/apps/photos/photo?photoID=204849922 204849922 Cedric stood looking at his latest haul after the pianos and the Geek had vanished into the twilight. If the last cheque had bounced, the next one most certainly would as well. Who had ready cash in the village to whom he could give some plausible explanation as to why he needed to borrow some? Oriel - if his sister was living there surely he might be capable of a "loan"? Or those saucy girls - they always seemed to have wads of the readies with them. What to do? He would have to mark up these pieces to exorbitantly high prices to get his business on an even keel again. And fast! https://www.dollshousespastandpresent.com/apps/photos/photo?photoID=204849921 204849921