Angels, Lovers and Songbirds – Chapter 01 – Reacquainting of an Angel
In the small but thriving English county of Downshire people go about the tasks of their everyday existence in ways that range from the mundane to the extraordinary as their forebears had done for centuries before, in the varied and diverse landscape, from the Ancient forests of Dancingdean and Pepperstock, the craggy ridges and manmade lakes of the Pepperstock Hills National Park, the rolling hills of the Downshire Downs, to the beautiful Finchbottom Vale and the short but beautiful coastline to the east.
But our story is set in and around Turnoak-Under-Hawthorne, a large rambling village, originally settled in the 12th century on the sparsely wooded slopes on the Northern fringe of the Finchbottom Vale about 5 miles from Purplemere, and it was everything you would expect from a Downshire Village.
Jack Morehouse moved to the village in the January of 2012 although in truth at that point he really only moved some of his stuff in, he didn’t start living there until much later.
Jack was 39 years old, pleasant looking, unmarried and was in reasonable physical shape and considered himself to be quite happy with his life, until that is, he moved to Turnoak.
After he graduated from Abbottsford University he started working for his Uncle Daniel who owned the Waterside Country Club on the banks of Purple Mere.
In fact the club was the brainchild of Daniel Morehouse and Jack’s father John.
But Jack’s father died while his son was at University so it was perfectly natural for him to take his father’s place in the business after graduation as he had been left his half.
The Waterside had become a popular entertainment venue and was one of the few remaining clubs where you could see top variety acts performing as well as offering dinner, cabaret and dinner dances.
For 18 years Jack worked under Daniels tutelage and then out of the blue Daniel had a massive heart attack and died, leaving Jack his half of the Club and his cottage in Turnoak along with the remainder of his estate after all the bequests, which was still quite substantial, although he didn’t know the half of it.
Uncle Daniel always referred to his Turnoak home as his cottage but in reality it was a row of 3 Victorian Cottages which had been converted into a 5 bedroom house.
He thought the house was too large for him really but he decided to defer any decision on what to do with it until the dust had settled.
His first priority was the club and to ensure that Uncle Daniels death didn’t impact on the smooth running of the business.
So that is why he didn’t take up residence in the village until much later.
But after the funeral he made an important decision, because his father and his Uncle had both died “in harness” so to speak, he resolved that he wasn’t going to go the same way.
Although he was only 39 he thought it best if he adopted an overseeing role.
So to that end he brought in two new people to fill his shoes, James Lynch and Jacey Linton.
They were both of a similar age to Jack and he had known them both from his University days when they all worked together putting on shows at the Students Union.
James had worked at Maplin’s Holiday Resort in Sharpinghead since he graduated and had been the Entertainments Director for ten years and Jack thought he was going to have a real battle on his hands to lure him away.
After all he had security with Maplin’s, and a bigger salary than he could offer, but James almost snatched his hand off.
“Not that I’m not pleased” He said “But that was very easy”
“I was bored” James replied
Jacey on the other hand he thought would jump at the offer because he was working for a man who treated him like dirt, but over an eight year period he had eroded all of his self-confidence, belittled him at every turn and wiped away every ounce of his self-worth, so when Jack offered him a job he turned it down immediately stating it was beyond his capabilities.
It took him and James a month to finally convince him that he was capable enough for the job and wholly suitable to be manager of his Club.
So eventually he got his team, James was manager of all things entertainment and Jacey was responsible for the rest, staff, facilities, stock and over the two of them was Jack, who as he saw the other two take everything in hand, reduced his time at the club exponentially.
Which then allowed him to think about the house in Turnoak,
But having inherited the house in January it was July before he moved in and began sorting it out and it needed a lot of sorting.
So for the first three weeks he never stopped, however by the afternoon of his third Sunday he was getting a bit stir crazy so despite some inclement weather he set off for a walk around the village and after about twenty minutes there was a break in the weather and the sun actually put in an appearance so he decided to take a longer stroll around the village.
He felt the sun on his face for the first time in days and he thought it would be nice to see another human being as he walked briskly down the path before turning left and as he carried on down the road he met the odd fellow traveller and exchanged good afternoons or nods.
Around the next corner he passed the corner shop where a young woman was serving a customer with fruit and veg, she smiled and he smiled back and he pressed on past the shop and picked up the walking pace as the skies darkened, so he rushed homeward walking headlong round a corner and met someone else coming the other way and they both ended up on their backsides.
“I’m so sorry” he said getting quickly to his feet and proffering a hand to the prostrate figure of a woman, which she took.
“Nonsense” she replied, “I wasn’t looking where I was going my mind was elsewhere”.
“Mine too” he said “are you ok? Are you hurt?”
“Only my pride” she replied as they dusted themselves off and then they looked at each other for the first time and he realized he had poleaxed a vicar and then he studied the face.
“Katie?” he said “Katie Watson?”
And there was a brief moment of puzzlement on the Vicars face and then recognition spread across her face.
“Jack Morehouse” Katie exclaimed “As I live and breathe”
And they hugged for the first time in 16 years.
They had dated briefly during their first year at University but they soon knew in their heart of heart that they were not destined to be a couple, their destiny was as very good friends and no more.
And they remained friends right up until graduation when she went to theological college and then they lost touch.
“What are you doing here?” she asked
“I’ve just moved here” he replied
“White Rose Cottage” Jack said
“Daniels House?” she asked
“Yes he was my Uncle” he replied
“I knew he was a Morehouse but the thought never occurred to me that he was related to you” Katie said “There’s no resemblance”
“No there isn’t” he agreed “We were very close though, and he left me the house”
“That’s brilliant” Katie said “We’ll have to catch up soon, but I have to get going, duties to perform”
“Are you the Vicar in Turnoak?”
“Yes” she replied “and I need to get ready for evensong”
“Well pop round anytime” he said “I’m only working in the house”
“Ok” she said and they parted company with a kiss and a hug.
Before he got home the rain came again and he was relieved to reach his front door and after a change of clothes and a hot drink he returned to his chores.
The unseasonal weather continued over the following few days but by Friday it had finally cleared up and according to the met office and their Super Computer the Vale were in for a prolonged spell of warm, dry days right through to September, a proper Indian summer.
Not that Jack was holding his breath, he had little faith that they could manage to predict the weather for 6 weeks hence when they struggle to forecast with any certainty what will happen that afternoon.