Angels, Lovers and Songbirds – Chapter 10 – The Busy Season
In the week following he saw very little of Kayleigh but he didn’t have time to miss her as his feet barely touched the floor.
He was spurred on by his mother’s words to him when he was a boy, which reverberated in his head, like a mantra.
“You should give more of yourself, if everyone gave one hour a week, what a change that would make to the world”
Which was something he couldn’t argue with back then and could argue with it now even less which was why he threw himself into it totally and agreed to do everything he was asked without question.
His busy week started on the morning of the third Sunday of advent where he was involved as a greeter, Katie Watson wasn’t well enough for the service but she did put in an appearance for the carol singing at St Lucy’s that evening looking pale and wan.
She was under strict instructions from Dr Anderson not to attend any of the usual clutch of seasonal outdoor events, which although she was most unhappy about it she thankfully did as she was told as winter had arrived in Turnoak with a vengeance.
On Monday it was his turn to man the Soup Kitchen in Purplemere on a bitter cold night, it was his first time there, and what an eye opener it was.
He was absolutely staggered firstly by the number and variety of homeless people in a relatively small town and secondly by how human beings could survive living at the mercy of the elements.
Some of them, the lucky ones, they were able to place in hostels or shelters but for the rest all they could do was give them hot food and a blanket.
He had clearly found a deserving recipient for some of the money his Uncle Daniel had left him.
He slept in until lunch time the following day and reflected on how lucky he was to have a comfortable home and a roof over his head.
On Tuesday night he was again out on the streets of Purplemere this time with the Christmas Charity Wagon.
It was an old brewer’s dray pulled by two white shire horses.
The whole thing was bedecked with tinsel and lights and carried on the back a multidenominational choir while the rest of the volunteers went from door to door, as the wagon drove around the town, collecting donations in plastic buckets and handing out sweets to the children, there were a number of faces he recognized amongst there number, Gemma Frost, Sarah Peters, and Elise Riley to name but three.
On Wednesday afternoon it was The Santa Express, which was a renovated steam engine and coaches, which ran from Sharping St Mary station to a secret location where Santa was waiting in his grotto.
It picked up the local children and their parents late afternoon so that they arrived at the grotto in darkness, in order to make the most of the spectacular lights.
It was Jack’s responsibility to deliver the family’s to Sharping St Mary on the coach, ensuring firstly that everyone was accounted for before departure and more importantly that he had the same number of people on the return journey.
The kids were going crazy with excitement and Jack had to confess he found it quite exciting himself.
But his job on the trip was to make sure none of the over excited little darlings fell off the train.
Karen Clarke, among others from the committee were also present and at one point she managed to trap Jack between the carriages armed with a bunch of mistletoe and only when she had satisfied herself at the pagan ritual she let him go, he was mightily relieved that she didn’t have a mouth full of pins like the last time he had seen her, when she was altering costumes in the Church Hall.
Also helping on the trip were Reverend Massey and to his surprise Martina Wingrove, Paul and Martina seemed to have become inseparable in the short time since he introduced them, or more accurately reintroduced them, although he didn’t know that at the time.
Jack had never believed in love at first sight or in soul mates, he thought them rather fanciful notions the stuff of romantic fiction and sentimental movies.
That was until he first lay eyes on Kayleigh, and when he introduced Martina and Paul and they were instantly smitten, but he had come to the conclusion much earlier that anything can happen in Turnoak.
Afterwards when he saw them together, they were like two halves of a different whole, each of them was the missing piece in the others puzzle.
Of course he was not privy to the fact that they were old flames so it wasn’t love at first sight, but it was unmistakably love.
As he watched them together he remembered a long ago conversation he once had with her when she said
“I’m not looking for a life partner”
Well Jack thought she had found one whether she was looking or not.
Now if the kids were excited on the way to the grotto then judging by the decibel level they were even more so on the way back but by the time they got on the coach they were a spent force and the coach ride back to the village was very peaceful.
On Thursday he had nothing planned other than to treat it as his day off.
But it was also the nativity play at St Lucy’s School that evening and shortly after breakfast he took a phone call asking if he could help out because they were shorthanded due to illness.
He really could have done with a restful day but he was needed, and he liked being needed so he did a machine full of laundry and made lunch for himself and Kayleigh and they finally had an engaging conversation about his inheritance and what to do with it.
Shortly after lunch Reverend Paul Massey had to go and visit a parishioner, it sounded like it was going to be a waste of his time, however he knew as he was the new man at St Lucy’s he had to earn the trust of his flock even if he had been asked to pop round because an octogenarian couldn’t get the web cam to work on her laptop.
Paul knew it probably meant that she had disabled it by accident but he had to go out in the cold just to tick a box.
The temperature hadn’t got above freezing all day and his car was covered in frost and ice so he decided to walk on the basis that he should be able to walk there and back in the time it would take to sufficiently defrost the car.
As he suspected Mrs. Nelson had accidentally disabled the web cam so he worked his magic and went back out into the cold afternoon air and by the time he got down the path it had started snowing and by the time he reached the main road it was coming down hard and fast.
It was coming down so rapidly that visibility was instantly reduced to zero.
It was so disorienting that he couldn’t have found his way back to Mrs Nelson’s house despite being no more than 50 yards away.
So he inched his way along the footpath tucking up close to hedges, picket fences and garden walls so he didn’t wander off course.
When he reached the end of a row of houses he had to take a leap of faith, as he couldn’t see the other side of the road.
As he trudged onward he realized he had gone off course because he hadn’t reached the other side.
Paul had no idea how far he had gone, he had no point of reference, so he decided the best course of action was to veer left to try and find the footpath again.
Unfortunately he had no idea how far left to go or for that matter how far left he had already gone.
He wasn’t that familiar with Turnoak in crystal clear visibility let alone in a blizzard and Paul was just beginning to panic when he tripped on a curb stone and crashed into another lost soul and they fell to the floor in an untidy heap.
Martina Wingrove was working alone at St Lucy’s installing a new control desk and was totally oblivious to the weather until she stepped outside, and it was snowing.
She didn’t particularly want to go out in it but she really wanted a sandwich and a drink and Stephenson’s Corner shop was only about a hundred yard away.
So she zipped up her coat and pulled up her collar and set off down the road but she only got halfway to the shop before the snow fell thick and fast and had trouble seeing her way and a couple of minutes later she crashed into someone and they fell unceremoniously to the floor.
When Paul got to his feet he found he was outside Stephenson’s
“I’m saved,” he thought as he envisaged taking refuge in the shop until the snow abated, but first he had to help the other poor traveller he had left prostrate on the snowy ground.
“I’m so sorry” he said as he grabbed a handful of coat and pulled the stricken body to its feet.
The individual muttered incoherently under their breath as they brushed themselves off and Paul got the impression his apology was not accepted and when they began to turn in his direction he was bracing himself for a volley of unchristian language but to his great surprise he found the previously stricken figure to be Martina Wingrove and the muttering scowling indignant face instantly changed to a beaming toothy smile when she recognized the face of her assailant.
“Paul” she said excitedly and then cautiously gave a long look in the direction of the shop doorway then in a quieter voice she continued
“I didn’t know it was you Vicar”
“Are you ok?” he asked
“I am now” she replied and was still looking anxiously towards the shop so he steered her around the side of the building and kissed Martina in the snow, which she reciprocated eagerly.
“Is this appropriate behaviour Vicar?” she asked “Taking advantage of a defenceless woman, what will your parishioner’s think?”
“My parishioners can’t see us” he said
“Well in that case” she said and spun him around and kissed him.
The kiss continued until the snow began to lighten and there was a risk of discovery.
“We’ll I’d better let you go” she said but kissed him once more quickly
“Regrettably yes” Paul said and they both started walking towards the shop door a respectable distance apart.
“I only came out because I was peckish” she said and giggled
“But now I’m ravenous”
“I have to admit that I’m quite hungry myself now” Paul said
At the precise moment that Paul and Martina were kissing in the snow
Jack and Kayleigh were cuddling on the sofa in White Rose Cottage when she said
“Sarah, Hannah and Elise are going for a meal in Purplemere tomorrow night and they’ve asked if I want to go with them”
“I was hoping we could go out for an intimate dinner at the Runcible Spoon” Jack said but she was a little apprehensive about them being seen
“If People see us they might think we’re on a date” she said
“We would be on a date” he pointed out
“That’s not the point” Kayleigh retorted and giggled
“Well I don’t mind if you want to go” he said “Where are you eating anyway?”
“You’re passing up on an intimate dinner for two at one of the poshest restaurants in the county, to eat at a cheesy pizza place”
“Well if you just happened to be in town tonight, and just happened to be in the vicinity of La Florenza you could join us” she said seductively and nibbled his ear
“Ah is that because you’ll miss me?” he cooed
“No it’s so you can pay “money bags”” Kayleigh said and laughed