Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (34) The Shopkeepers Heart (Part 01)
Sabr Hemmings was petite and had beautiful strawberry blonde hair and at 27 years old she was running the family business.
The name Sabr was an Arabic word for the Islamic virtue of "patience", although neither Belinda nor her husband were Arabs or Islamists, she read it in a book when she was expecting her daughter and fell in love with the name.
Her mother, Belinda, was now seriously ill, so her father was preoccupied with looking after her and her younger brother Carl was at University.
The Hemmings family had run the Post Office and General Store at the southern end of Sharpington since the 1930’s after a family rift.
Sabr’s grandfather had been one of the sons in “Hemmings and Son’s Funeral Directors” but he had a falling out with his father about the suitability of the girl he planned to marry, he left and the two never spoke again.
Sharpington-by-Sea is a traditional seaside resort complete with a Victorian Pier, seafront hotels, crazy golf, The Palladium ballroom, well maintained gardens, promenade, theatre and illuminations, all the usual things to have a great time by the seaside, as well as amusement arcades and of course the Sharpington Fun Park.
Which was the first purpose built amusement park to open in Britain, which had an assortment of rides, like the Rotor and the Wild Mouse, The Cyclone and the Morehouse Galloper, all very tame compared to a 21st century roller coaster but was still great fun.
It was also a popular resort for retirees and boasted a number of static caravan parks.
Despite the fact that she was raised as a Christian by practising Christian parents who were always, and indeed still were very active in their church Sabr had never been a particularly spiritual person, though not an unchristian person.
She did however believe in a power greater than herself and she was not uncomfortable in calling that power God.
The church however had always been a different matter and she had in fact always been quite dismissive about those interfering Christian do-gooders, doing good works and muttering on about their relationship with God.
She had never had a relationship with God other than the fact that she knew without a doubt that he existed.
But other than the mutual acceptance that the other did in fact exist they pretty much left it at that.
She had not been a regular visitor to His house since she was sixteen when she was given the option to follow her own path, her parents thought optimistically that she would choose to continue on the path they had led her along but they were to be disappointed.
So her interactions with the church were restricted to hatches, matches and dispatches and the odd Christmas carol service, that was of course until her mother was diagnosed with cancer.
She wasn’t sure what prompted her to attend St Lucy’s church again on that bitter cold day in February, it may have been to mourn her dear Grandmother who died the month before, and it might have been the despair she felt after her mother’s diagnosis or perhaps she just needed to reset her compass.
Whatever the reason was it reawakened something in her and every week after that she would find herself standing at the back of St Lucy’s yodelling out “how great thou art” or some other heart felt rendition.
The news of her redemption somehow reached her Aunty Claire’s ears and she became a little less of a pariah.
Which was just as well because it was Aunty Claire who managed the Post Office side of the business and allowed her to run the shop.