Monday, February 15, 2010

Bread and Deliver Us

Title: Bread and Deliver Us
Author: Ranger
Warnings: Morris dancing involved…. A parishioner is ill, kids are catching frogs. Andrew is planning something Gideon is NOT going to like, and he should be eating broccoli.

“And a voice spake out of the darkness,” a voice spake out of the darkness, rousing Gideon from his book in the study, “And it said, tea or coffee?”

“I’m halfway through a glass of port. Do you want one?” Gideon called back. There was a moment of doors locking and footsteps in the tiled hall, then Andrew appeared with a glass in his hand. He paused at Gideon’s desk long enough to pour himself a half-inch of port from the decanter, then went around the desk and firmly confiscated Gideon’s book, taking its place on his lap and coiling himself there like a cat. Gideon sat back in the admiral’s chair and wrapped both arms around him, breathing appreciatively of the summer evening air Andrew still carried around him after his walk.

“That was a long meeting.”

”It took a lot of negotiating.” Andrew spun the glass gently in his fingers, holding it up to the soft light of the lamp before he looked over his shoulder and gave his partner a serious and somewhat saddened look from innocent, large blue eyes.

“Gay, this is probably going to involve levels of corruption, bribery, sabotage and espionage the like of which we may never have seen before.”

”The village fete,” Gideon said without surprise.

“It’s apparently always held in the vicarage gardens,” Andrew said from the bathroom as they were getting ready for bed. “Which reminds me of that GHASTLY song that woman used to teach the Sunday school infants in Chigwell about ‘whose pigs are these?’. Not that anyone’s going to sing that, or that in the village we ever have to deal with pigs wandering around loose anywhere, never mind in the vicarage gardens- only those sheep that one time and that was mostly down to the hole in the hedge so it was probably our fault anyway. And why gardens, plural? We HAVE only the one garden, it circumnavigates the entire house so it can only BE the one garden. CAN a garden circumnavigate?”

“No,” Gideon said, sitting on the side of the bed to wind his watch. Andrew floated through in blue satin boxer shorts, stepped over Pontius Pilate who was crashed out on the rug since it was far too hot for his basket, and stretched out on top of the covers, his chin on his hands.

“So Mr. Agnew raised the subject of the fete and everyone on the council virtually turned green and hid under the table, and Mr. Ackwell actually suggested that after their experience last year, every member of the council put in twenty quid and we didn’t bother with the fete itself, since it would raise the same amount of money without any of the hassle. Which was about the saddest thing I’ve ever heard in my life. And the money goes into the parish fund, which is fairly vital and ought to be a much higher community priority than it is.”

”So you talked the enthusiasm back into them,” Gideon said dryly. Andrew smiled.

“Well let’s say there now IS going to be a fete. In the vicarage gardens. Preferably without pigs. And we came up with a HUGE list of things people were going to do, and I ESPECIALLY wanted a humorous vegetable competition.”


”Mr. Ackwell thought it was a great idea.”


“Potatoes shaped as-“


”You’re no fun,” Andrew said serenely. “Apparently there is also the issue of Lady Amelia Fforbes who always, always opens fetes. And Mr. Agnew asked her last month, and apparently due to last year’s fete which sounds as if it was a total fiasco she said no. So the entire fate of the fete depends on whether I can persuade her to do her civic duty in white gloves and make some kind of gracious announcement. I did suggest we gave the gig to the bishop instead, but apparently Lady Fforbes is the patron of the Women’s Institute and they do nothing without her. It’s like the Angel of Mons kind of thing. She has to loom menacingly, otherwise they won’t turn up and knit. It’s very complicated. I’ll go and see her tomorrow.”

Lady Fforbes had no idea what she was in for.

Gideon put his watch down on the side of the bed, turned the light out and got under the covers, reaching a firm arm out for his partner.

“And THEN we got onto the stained glass window, which is what we want the village fete money FOR…” Andrew went on in the darkness. “And discussed modern themes for it, at which point most of them had collective hysterics. Apparently anything after 1603 has its roots in punk rock. So I explained to them the punk rock movement and its political beliefs, and how that really did have nothing whatever to do with a theme for the chancel window-“

Pausing briefly to view the mental image of Much Magden’s Parish Council digesting a lecture on the politics of punk, Gideon pinned Andrew down in the mountain of pillows he insisted on and stopped his mouth with a kiss thorough enough that when he lifted his head again Andrew paused for breath for almost five seconds, his blue eyes thoughtful on his partner’s.

“I thought about a harvest theme. Lots of fruit and vegetables. Or animals. Considering we’re a rural parish. Both would be nice for the children AND simple, significant designs rather than some saint no one’s ever heard of and never will remember except the vergers. Who will then say in a meaningful way to visitors, “THERE stands Saint Whatsisface who was a good boy and always waved to dolphins”. Although arguably dolphins would make nice windows-“

Gideon kissed him again, more firmly, not responsive to the idea of dolphins. And this time felt Andrew’s arms wind around his neck with a definite purpose that suggested sea-going mammals were no longer forefront in Andrew’s mind either.

He was aware of Andrew slipping from the bed some time later- quite a lot later. It didn’t arouse his attention. Andrew was quite capable of enthusiastic participation in a night on the tiles that ended at four am in the morning and still completing his devotions before he surrendered to sleep. What did wake him five minutes later was the shrilling of the phone beside the bed. Gideon groaned into his pillow and dragged himself both awake and across the bed to pick it up.

“Hello? St Michael’s Vicarage.”

The voice at the other end was female, tearful and urgent. Gideon sat up, sleep dispelling.

“Yes, he’s here. Just a minute please.” 

Andrew appeared in the bedroom doorway and sat down on the edge of the bed as Gideon handed him the phone. And flopped back down across the mattress, his head against Andrew’s thigh.

“Hello?” Andrew said gently. “Yes. Yes of course. Five minutes.”

“Where?” Gideon asked without opening his eyes as Andrew put the phone down and got up to dress with the speed and dispatch of the very well practiced.

“Mrs. Rokesby. I knew she wasn’t well. That was her daughter, apparently it’s not looking very good. Go back to sleep, darling.”

Gideon lifted his head to accept a swift kiss goodbye and Andrew ran noiselessly downstairs. A moment later the front door shut and Gideon sank back into sleep.

There was a small group of kids splashing, ankle deep in the stream that ran by Mrs. Rokesby’s garden at the end of the village. Andrew, shutting the cottage gate softly behind him shortly after mid-morning, paused and smiled at them, recognising several faces.

“Good morning, Sarah. Any fish in there?”

Little Sarah Vaughan, her two brothers and a small boy Sarah’s age whom Andrew recognised as Kevin Dunkley, son of one of the few blacksmiths left in the county, paused in their wading and several luridly coloured plastic buckets were held out for his inspection.

“My dad says there’s minnows in here,” Harry Vaughan said hopefully, “But there ain’t none today, not even tiddlers. Tadpoles though! Look, Vicar, some of them have got little legs!”

Andrew crouched on the bank to admire the legs on the little beasts swimming frantically in half an inch of muddied water.

“Aren’t they beautiful? You need at least a half bucket of water to carry those anywhere; they need to stay good and wet. Where are you going to keep them?”

“In our pond.” Dean Vaughan, with all the lofty seniority of eight years old, topped up his brother’s bucket. “And then they’ll turn into frogs unless they turn into toads.”

Dean made noises of enthusiasm at this, echoed by Kevin. Sarah, looking distinctly anxious, tugged at Andrew’s sleeve as he started to get up.

“Vicar? I want to whisper you something.”

Andrew obediently crouched down again and received a moist confidence in one ear. And stifled the smile before he took Sarah’s hand and squeezed it reassuringly.

“You don’t have to kiss anyone you don’t want to. Not even if Harry says so. And I think only princesses can properly check frogs anyway. Have another look at your book and see.”

“Are there any prayers for frogs, Vicar?” Kevin said doubtfully, looking into his bucket. “So they don’t die before they get into the pond? I have to wait to put things in our pond cos my baby sister sleeps out in the garden and I’m not allowed to go and wake her up and make her cry. My mum goes mad if I make her cry,” he added darkly.    

Andrew held out a hand for the bucket and said the words of the Franciscan blessing into it, while the children watched anxiously. 

“Will that work?” Kevin said with suspicion, accepting back the bucket. Andrew nodded, placing his faith firmly upwards.

“Yes. IF you take them straight back to Sarah’s pond now, don’t bang them about or drop them, and keep them in plenty of water.”

There was a chorus of goodbyes as he left, and they were still paddling when he rounded the corner and walked across the village green in front of the church. It was a clear, warm morning and Gideon’s voice was clearly audible, deep and rich and counting out a steady beat from the vicarage garden.

“- and back and forward, step out and turn, one two, keep your skirts gathered UP-“

Eight Tudor courtiers were dancing on the lawn to the music from a CD player while Gideon walked around them, surveying them critically. A long noise and a pair of sharp eyes were peering over the hedge and Andrew waved cheerfully.

“Good morning, Mrs. Dunwoodie!”

A furious snort and the sound of a rapid scuttle up the highstreet indicated Mrs. Dunwoodie’s reply.

“Seven, eight and now the reel- hello.” Gideon, in buckskin breeches, high polished boots and a cravat under his cream waistcoat, put an arm around Andrew and kissed him, taking in everything to be read in his face. “How is Mrs. Rokesby?”

”About the same,”  Andrew said calmly. “I’ll go back this afternoon; her daughter’s staying with her.”

“Have some breakfast. Oh, Jo called. The Women’s Institute want to start decorating the garden for Saturday. And Mr. Agnew wants to know if you’ve spoken to Lady Fforbes yet?”

Andrew beetled his eyebrows, smirking. “That’s next on my to-do list.”


“Have you SEEN what they’re doing at the vicarage!” Mrs. Dunwoodie demanded through Mrs. Ackwell’s open kitchen window. Mr. Ackwell, who, seated at the kitchen table was peacefully eating his lunch and minding his own business, glanced around and gave a muted sigh on behalf of his wife who was elbow deep in a mixing bowl making scones.

“Come in, Bella. You might as well walk straight in the door as talk to us through the window.”

Mrs. Dunwoodie, accepting that as an invitation, scuttled straight up their steps and into the kitchen, peering over Mrs. Ackwell’s shoulder. And sniffing.

“You want more baking soda in there, they’ll never rise properly.”

“Tudor dancing,” Mrs. Ackwell said, looking harassed. “That’s what I saw in the vicarage garden when I came back from shopping. Which was nicer than that bunch of soldiers running around and shouting with rifles like Monday. DON ’T put soda in there, Bella! These are for the fete!”

”I wouldn’t put your name on them then,” Mrs. Dunwoodie said disdainfully. “Pancakes they’ll look like, not scones. And I wasn’t looking at the dancing either, they’re putting up the BUNTING in the garden-“

”I thought you were doing that,” Mr. Ackwell said, finishing his shepherd’s pie with a discreet belch of satisfaction. “Pillar of the women’s institute and all.”

”I am,” Mrs. Dunwoodie said with dignity. “So’s Aggie-“

”I’m going along at two to help,” Mrs. Ackwell said, kneading her scones with some slight satisfaction in revenge. “YOU said you wouldn’t be seen dead in the vicarage gardens if the fete was held there.”

“I didn’t,” Mrs. Dunwoodie said defiantly, “I had to go and visit Millie Rokesby, she’s been taken right poorly, the vicar went up to her very late last night and again this morning-“

”I’m sure he’d be delighted to know you’re keeping such close tabs on him, Bella.” Mr. Ackwell put his plate in the sink and kissed his wife, stealing a couple of currants from the dough. “I’m going over to the vicarage, I said I’d put a couple of nails in the trees to hold the bunting, it’s got to last a few days through until Saturday.”

”THAT’S what I came to tell you,” Mrs. Dunwoodie said triumphantly. “I saw the minute I walked by.”

”Peered over the hedge,” Mr. Ackwell corrected. Mrs. Dunwoodie glared at him through beady eyes.

“It’s the WRONG bunting.”

“Lady Fforbes would be delighted to open the fete,” Andrew announced early that afternoon, locking his pink VW Beetle and coming through the open vicarage gate. Several women, carrying armfuls of bunting, flags and plastic mayblossom were scuttling all over the garden with stepladders. Mr. Ackwell was up a ladder, nailing more bunting to the birch trees. The apple tree was already draped and bunting ran from the hedge to the house in several directions. Gideon, determinedly oblivious, was sitting on a bench in the sun with Pontius Pilate at his feet, reading.

“She’d be ecstatic, excited, overwhelmed AND charmed. She’ll bring her husband AND her granddaughter, she’ll be delighted to judge all competitions and to buy a raffle ticket. I’m told that’s vital.”

”I don’t want to know how you talked her into that,” Gideon said without looking up. Andrew surveyed bunting, jiving on the spot to some internal tune.

“Da da da dah - I had PROPER afternoon tea with her. Scones and cream. I can FEEL my waistline expanding, I’ll be on slimfast for a month. She’s wonderful, she drank sherry at me and told me all about her mother’s dahlias. She also wants to buy the chancel stained glass window for us and dahlias are definitely going to be a feature on it-“


“Which will go rather nicely with the harvest theme,” Andrew continued. “Are you watching where this bunting is going?”

”No, I’m reading.” Gideon gave Andrew a severe look. “How are you going to explain dahlias to the parish council?”

“If she’s going to pay for it, it can have knickerless fireman on it for all they’ll care,” Andrew said airily. “I told you she was the village answer to the Angel of Mons. Can I co-opt you onto the fete committee?”

“No,” Gideon said unpromisingly. “You be careful.”

”As opposed to being good?” Andrew grinned at him just as Mrs. Ackwell, Jo Dickinson and Mrs. Dunwoodie arrived together, all looking thoroughly put out.

“I DID say,” Mrs Dunwoodie began. Jo interrupted her without compunction.

“Andrew, how many sets of bunting are in the church store?”

“I have no idea, but I can look,” Andrew said, pulling out keys. “Why?”

“Because it’s the WRONG bunting,” Mrs Dunwoodie said sharply.

“It’s the wrong trousers, Grommet,” Gideon murmured without looking up from his book. Andrew stifled a snort of laughter and straightened his face.

“Wrong? I thought bunting was bunting?”

“THIS is the flags of all nations,” Mrs. Dunwoodie announced. “Which we- the Women’s Institute- bought for the children’s nativity in 1965. NO one has asked if it could be borrowed before it was draped everywhere. The BLUE bunting belongs to the girl guides and a shocking state it’s in too, and the St. George Cross bunting was bought special for the Queen’s Jubilee. The FETE bunting, which the parish council paid for, is red, white and blue. I’m sorry, vicar but it has to be said. This casual attitude of take what you want and use it how you want without asking, taking OTHER PEOPLE’s bunting-“

”I’ll go and look for the right bunting,” Jo said grimly, taking the keys. “Although considering this is the result of about three hours work on behalf of a LOT of the Women’s Institute, none of whom seem to mind, and who are going to have to take THIS lot of bunting down again-“

”Lady Fforbes suggested that bunting,” Mrs. Dunwoodie said sharply. “As patron of the Women’s Institute she did-“

“Then she’ll be delighted to see it,” Andrew said warmly. “She’ll be opening the fete on Saturday, I spoke to her earlier today.”  

Mrs. Dunwoodie paused, her mouth staying open.

“Excellent,” Jo said, just about hanging onto the snap in her voice. “Perfect. I’ll let the ladies know that we’ll be going with the flags of all nations then. Thankyou, Andrew.”

“Pleasure.” Andrew lengthened his stride and caught up with her as she stalked back across the lawn. “How are you holding up? Isn’t it a little hot out here for you?”

Jo’s tight lips eased slightly and she gave Andrew a quick smile, putting her hand self consciously on her belly which was just beginning to show the slight swell through her dress.

“I’m only four months in, I’m fine.”

”Send someone into the kitchen and make sure everyone’s got tea then,” Andrew said firmly. “I’d do it but I’ve got to dash, I need to go back over to Mrs. Rokesby.”

”How is she?” Jo said anxiously. Andrew paused by the gate.

“Comfortable and glad of the company. Don’t let the Dunwoodie get you down, I’ll be back soon. Gideon’ll help if you need it.”

Jo frankly snorted, looking once more at Gideon who was seated, determinedly unmoved by the hive of activity around him.

“I wouldn’t dare ask.”

The bunting was up, the garden finally silent and deserted, and Andrew was flat out on the sofa that evening, his head in Gideon’s lap while Pontius Pilate lay with his head in Andrew’s lap, all three of them watching a documentary of Gideon’s choosing when Andrew abruptly rolled to his feet. Pilate landed on the carpet with a thud and a grunt. Gideon straightened, watching Andrew pick up his jacket.

“Where are you going?”

“I’m just going to drop in on Mrs. Rokesby.”

”You just got back an hour ago,” Gideon pointed out. Andrew barely glanced at him, heading for the front door.

“Yes. I won’t be long.”

Gideon leaned over to switch off the TV, picked up his own jacket and followed.

Mr. Ackwell, returning from one of the further flung farm fields where he worked in the summer, passed a Regency naval captain standing by the stream that flowed past Mrs. Rokesby’s garden at nine pm that evening, swishing the end of his gold tipped cane gently in the water while a small King Charles Spaniel watched.

“Evening, Mr. West.”

”Good evening, Mr. Ackwell.” Gideon turned, bowing politely. “You’re late home tonight.”

”I dropped in on my allotment,” Mr. Ackwell confided, stooping to pat Pilate. “Checking on my rhubarb and tomatoes for the fete. Beautiful they are. Out for a walk?”

“Andrew felt he needed to –“ Gideon broke off as Andrew emerged from the cottage and came quietly across the garden to take Gideon’s arm.

“Hello, Mr. Ackwell. How big are the tomatoes?”

“Bigger than your fist,” Mr. Ackwell said promptly, smiling. “How’s Millie Rokesby?”

“She died a few minutes ago,” Andrew said gently. “Her sister and daughter were with her. They’re making the arrangements now.”


Mrs. Rokesby had been born in the village, and the community was small enough for her loss to be felt. Andrew had visited her weekly with the several other elderly and housebound parishioners he took communion to, and there was no question about her right to one of the privileged places in the village churchyard as opposed to one of the district cemeteries. Her family visited to plan the funeral with Andrew mid-week, with a date set for the Friday before the fete. In the meantime, bunting continued to go up. The vicarage garden now contained several stalls and tents and Gideon’s two ragged chimney sweeps under the tutelage of their mothers and a BBC director, learned to swagger and cower efficiently around the archery butts and the coconut shy being built by Joe Thatcher and Mr. Ackwell on Wednesday afternoon.

“There is going to be-“ Andrew announced at dinner that evening, consulting a list, “The Usual Fete Things. And I quote- are you ready for this? White elephant stalls, bran tubs, coconut shy, the Women’s Institute stall of cross stitching-“

”God help us all.” Gideon put plates on the table and sat down, peering at the list.
“Is ALL of that going in the garden?”

“Apparently. Vegetable competitions, MY humorous vegetable competition,”


”Cake, jam and scone competitions, a greased pig- I have no clue what gets done with that and I really don’t want to ask- children’s fancy dress competition, maypole dancing by the village school, Morris dancing by the village Morris association, the ladies folk group if we’re not extremely careful will do their floral garland dancing, and there will of course be enormous amounts of strawberries and cream.”

“Of course.” Gideon put the tureen of vegetables closer, confiscating the list and putting it out of reach. “Green stuff, Andrew.”

”It says nowhere in Leviticus about eating greens, unless it’s asparagus or spinach,” Andrew pointed out. “I’m off broccoli. It’s so…. “

His hands waved expressively, outlining the shape of the offending broccoli.

“…bunched. I mean it’s not an exciting vegetable is it? It’s a short step from broccoli to cabbage and hideous memories of school dinners.“

Gideon carved a sausage on his plate, unmoved.

“Remember what we talked about regarding spoilt brat attacks?”

“Well sausages ARE boring. What’s wrong with a little goat’s cheese al fettuccine? Or duck pate? I BOUGHT duck pate-“

”I saw the price on it, too,” Gideon said forbiddingly. “There is nothing wrong with good, plain food that costs less than half the housekeeping budget and actually contains some form of nutritional value. And Italian appetisers aren’t a meal. You’ve been charging around all day-“

”Eating this sort of thing is like wearing a t-shirt from Tescos,” Andrew pointed out. “It’s worrying, unnecessary and just plain embarrassing. WHY put up with the tacky and common when there are decent designer products if you have ANY taste - and these are Tescos sausages-”


”We shouldn’t even be SHOPPING at Tescos. Sainsburies at the very least-“

Gideon put his fork down with a decisive click, giving him a hard look. “I think the hall tiles need polishing again, Andrew.”

Andrew paused, looking back from under his lashes. “I can’t. It’s choir practice tonight.”

“That will not take all evening. GREENS, Andrew.”

The doorbell clanging brought Andrew to his feet with the speed of delight.

“I’ll get that.”

”Whoever it is, we’re eating,” Gideon said sternly after him. Reaching for Andrew’s plate, he added several spoons of broccoli to the sausages and mash already there. Children’s voices were audible in the hallway, followed by Andrew returning with a small tribe amongst whom Gideon recognised Sarah Vaughan. Several of the children were wet to the skin and most were dirty. Andrew looked anxious and the signals made above the children’s heads were swift and urgent.

“Sarah came to tell me about a problem with the Dunkleys; I’ll be back when I can.”

”There’s an ambulance outside,” Harry Vaughan said sombrely to Gideon. “And Mrs. Dunkley screamed.”

That didn’t sound good. Gideon put the dinner plates in the fridge and turned on the sink taps.

“You all look as if you need a serious wash before I take you home or your mothers will be screaming too. Come on, there’s soap there.”


The fire had swept through the Dunkleys’ cottage without mercy, gutting the interior before the Towcester Firebrigade could reach them. Mr. Dunkley in the forge outside saw the smoke rising from the roof where the fire started, and Mrs. Dunkley and the baby rushed to safety in the garden without anything more than minor smoke inhalation and little Kevin Dunkley with the other children of his age in the village had been delving in Mrs. Rokesby’s pond to his parents great relief. He and Mrs. Dunkley were still extremely tearful when Andrew guided them gently up the steps of the vicarage much later that evening. Gideon, hearing Kevin’s whimpering, came into the hallway, took one look and took the baby from Mrs. Dunkley with gentle and practised hands.

“The kettle’s hot, Drew.”

”Thanks.” Andrew watched with sympathy as Mr. Dunkley pulled his wife around into his arms, his own face as white and stunned. “There’s been a fire. We’re going to need a couple of rooms made up-“

”Yes.” Gideon held out a hand to Kevin, neither stooping nor adopting any tone other than his usual grave and considerate one. “Come and help me, we’ll make some beds.”

Kevin, at this point frankly glad to go with anyone who was behaving normally and not crying, took his hand and went happily upstairs with him. Andrew sat Mr. and Mrs. Dunkley down at the kitchen table, poured tea, sugared it heavily and sat with them, chattering gently and persistently until they began to come out of the first shock. 

Kevin was sprawled on the bed, clean and watching a Disney video when his mother came upstairs some time later. Gideon, nobly sustaining interest in lost boys and pirates, got up, handing a sleeping baby Fleur over without disturbing her.

“Do we have anything she’ll eat or will we need milk?” he said softly. Mrs. Dunkley’s eyes filled and she hugged the baby, shaking her head.

“I don’t know- you’ve been so kind, I –“

”Tescos in Towcester is open twenty four hours, I can be back in forty minutes,” Gideon said calmly. “Give me a list. She’ll need what she’s used to, no sense in disturbing her any more than necessary.”

Lisa Dunkley sat down on the bed and dictated a short list of the baby’s requirements in between gulps.

“I’m so sorry,” she said when Gideon got up, pocketing the list. “I’m behaving like an idiot I know, I can’t stop crying,”

”I’m not surprised.” Gideon put a hand on her shoulder. “I’m so sorry.”

”I’m sorry we’re putting you out like this,” Lisa Dunkley said frankly, trying to keep her trembling mouth straight. “It’s that kind of you-“

”I’m the vicar’s wife, it comes with the job,” Gideon told her, “I make scones and do children’s parties too, boil water, heat blankets- it’s all on the CV.”

Mrs. Dunkley gave him a slightly less tremulous smile and he returned it.

“Kevin can show you the bathroom; please help yourself to anything you need.”

Andrew met him downstairs, the front door open as George Dunkley strode through the church yard towards the far end of the village and what remained of his home.

“The firebrigade just rang, the fire’s completely out, he’s going to have a look at what’s salvageable,” he said softly, not shutting the door. “Are the kids all right?”

“I’d suspect the baby’s in shock, she’s very asleep.” Gideon glanced briefly upstairs, following Andrew’s low tone. “Kevin’s fine, watching one of those videos from your Sunday school box.”

”We really ought to keep more kids books and videos here.” Andrew glanced at his watch. “I’m going to get them settled then go and help George, see if there’s anything he can bring back.”

”I’m going over to Towcester for baby food, I won’t be long.”

Andrew didn’t comment, but he put both arms around Gideon’s neck and kissed his cheek, his eyes expressive, then slipped out of the front door and jogged steadily after George Dunkley, Pilate at his heels.

It was late when Gideon returned, made up a couple of bottles of milk and took them, a change of children’s clothes and nappies upstairs where Fleur and Kevin were both fast asleep in one room and Lisa and George were settling in the other. They showed strong evidence of Andrew’s influence; Gideon had seen it numerous times before with parishioners in a wide ranger of crises. Andrew had a surprising repertoire of skills, but far more than that he had his own personal magic and its mark was on the Dunkleys. Both looked calmer and George Dunkley was still damp from the shower, his face a much more normal colour.

“My brother’s coming tomorrow,” George said softly to Gideon, pulling the door of the children’s room to. “He’ll help us put into storage what we can and he’ll take us back to stay with him in Towcester until the repairs are done. The Vicar’s been talking to the insurers for us, and the fire investigation, he doesn’t think it’ll take long to sort out. Oh and some friend of his who works for the citizens advice.”

If there were any benefits, emergency payments, additional child support, housing support- Andrew would know where to find it and would see that it found its way to this family.

Andrew was nowhere to be found on the top floor of the vicarage. Moving quietly not to disturb the Dunkleys, Gideon went downstairs and ran his partner to earth in his own study, curled up in the Admiral’s chair behind the desk with several heavy books open on the desk. No light was on other than the desk lamp and Gideon thought he looked distracted as he glanced up.


”Mr. Dunkley looks a lot happier.”

“Mmn.” Andrew shut the book and hugged his knees, still frowning. Gideon turned the lamp off and held out his hand.

“Come on. There’s nothing else you can do for them this evening, you need sleep too.”

”I had a phone call from Mrs. Rokesby’s daughter,” Andrew said, taking his hand but not moving. Gideon sat down on the desk instead, tugging his immaculate buckskin trousers up a little not to stretch the knees.


Andrew swung the chair slightly.

“She’s bequeathed a lot of her estate to the church.”

”That’s rather medieval.”

“Her daughter’s well provided for and she was very active in the church all her life,” Andrew said absently. “I’ve been trying to read around the law of it all, it looks complicated.”

”Why?” Gideon said mildly. “The money goes to the Parish Council surely?.”

”I think her beneficiary is the CHURCH as opposed to the Parish Council,” Andrew said thoughtfully. “And what’s more she’s left property, rather than money. Her estate.”

“Which we need to organise sale of?” Gideon said, frowning. “Or her solicitors need to?”

“I can see an immediate use for owning the property rather than the money.” Andrew gave him an intent look, sitting back in his chair. “The Dunkleys could do with it for a start, George can’t work from Towcester, there’s the issue of school- I need to know the legalities of it but it would make immediate sense to offer them the house until their own is habitable again- and it will be months Gay, I saw the interior, it’s gutted.”

Complicated. On the other hand, Andrew revelled in a challenge.

Gideon drew him gently to his feet.

“What about that friend of yours who’s a barrister-“

”Jerry. I rang him. When he stopped telling me it was past eleven pm he promised he’d find a colleague who knew property law and call me back tomorrow.”

”Then you’re covered.” Gideon steered him into the hall and upstairs with a firm hand in his back. “Come on, bed. Before you wake up some other poor, undeserving professional.”

They’d been asleep awhile when the argument broke out under their window. Gideon, dragging himself awake and fending off a furtive King Charles Spaniel who was pretending he was a part of the quilt, lifted his head, blinking sleep back.

“……….these here bloody potatoes, I KNOW they were MY bloody potatoes I’d know ‘em anywhere!”

”You wouldn’t know your arse from your elbow you daft sod, get home and sleep it off!”

”And what are you doing out at this time o’ night Joe Thatcher if you’re not nicking other people’s potatoes?”

”I wouldn’t touch your sodding potatoes!”

”I know who it was filched my prize carrots last year, and that marrow what got blighted, don’t you think I don’t-“

”What IS that?” Andrew demanded, turning over. Somewhat irate, Gideon got out of bed and stalked, stark naked, to the window, flinging it open.

“Gentlemen, you may discuss your potatoes anywhere in the village other than here. Am I making myself clear?”

There was a shocked silence while Joe Thatcher and Sam Broadbent, both obviously the worst for wear and both pushing barrows, looked up at him with their mouths open; he stood framed in the window like a naked and avenging angel. Then as Andrew appeared beside him, modestly draped in the duvet, they both retreated, eyes down and murmuring.

“Evening, Vicar.”

“Potatoes….” Gideon said, stalking back to bed.

“It’s the fete,” Andrew said, following. “They’re lethal, village fetes. It’s in all the literature- Miss Marple, the Midsommer Murders, the Famous Five- you have the fete, and then you have the fatality- fete ality? It’s probably where the word comes from. And you get people walking around going ‘it’s three pm and no one’s dead yet, what’s going on? Not as good as last year you know’-“

”I’m going to sleep now, Andrew.”

“It’s all druidic. Blood on the Women’s Institute Scones, without which the harvest probably fails. The annual Much Magden Village Sacrifice.”

There was a swat, a yelp, a growl and a giggle, and the vicarage once more was quiet.

“Did you see THAT?” Mrs. Ackwell squeaked to her husband, refusing to be dragged away from the window.

“Yes, and you did and all.” Mr. Ackwell said dryly.

“Not a stitch on! And in the WINDOW. TOGETHER!”

“Come back to bed, Aggie, do.” Mr. Ackwell crawled back under his blankets, shaking his head. “That’ll be sabotage with those potatoes. There was talk the other night in the Frog and Bucket that Jim Harrison had nicked two of Joe’s best marrows. Joe was threatening to sleep in the shed up on his allotment. Take that look OFF your face, my girl.”

“You wait until I tell Bella,” Mrs. Ackwell, shock slowly dawning into joy, climbed back into bed.


“I’m sorry, Vicar, that really isn’t appropriate.”

Mr. Agnew sounded worried. Worried because he was reaching the growing conclusion that Andrew was not the easiest person to argue with. Mr. Agnew believed in a quiet life with order and tradition. Andrew was always polite, always charming, but he talked at the rate of knots and he always knew exactly what he was talking about. And he was completely unrattled now, looking very unlike someone who’d been told in numerous different ways that what he wanted was totally out of the question.

“Ooh I think it’s completely appropriate,” he was saying charmingly, following Mr. Agnew into the vicarage gardens with a glass of wine. Which was throwing Mr. Agnew still further. In his book he wasn’t sure a vicar should drink wine at all, and he certainly shouldn’t serve wine to someone he was supposed to be arguing with. And Gideon, outside on the lawn with a broadsword in his hand and wearing a flowing shirt over his white trousers, a red sash and highly polished black boots that gave him the distinct look of a pirate, was whirling it dangerously, his dark face locked in a frown, engaged with an invisible opponent between the coconut shy and the wishing well. Andrew didn’t give him a second glance.

“The property officially IS coming to the church which is my domain first and foremost, I’m the representative of the Church of England here, which should make it my decision as to how best to use this bequest- and the house would at present be very useful.”

”I do understand the Dunkleys’ situation,” Mr. Agnew said heavily, trying not to stare at Gideon. “I’m very sorry about the fire and about the difficulties with George working-“

”It’s difficult enough for a man with a young family to be dealing with the loss of their home and property without worrying about his business too, it’s going to be very difficult for him to commute. And that leaves Lisa alone with those children; it’s making a bad situation very much worse for them.”

”I do appreciate that, Vicar,” Mr. Agnew sipped wine for want of something better to do with the glass in his hand. “But the legalities are complicated- the bequest’s been made, we have a responsibility to process the money and do it in an aboveboard way, otherwise we open ourselves to all kinds of accusations-“

”That’s easily solved,” Andrew said calmly, watching Gideon perform a particularly complex twist and lunge. “The Parish Council hold the deeds to the house and we have the solicitors draw up an agreement that we’ll accept the house as stands instead of liquidise the assets. I’ve asked for legal advice, I can have the solicitor come over and talk to the Parish Council this week. Mrs. Rokesby’s daughter is very happy for the house to be used in this way.”

“And then there’s all the questions with the house- who’s responsible for safety, who’s responsible for insurance, rates, accidents, are we liable? I’m sorry, Vicar, I think the answer MUST be no,” Mr Agnew said it as firmly as he could. “I do understand your point, but it’s too – unusual, it’s open to too many questions and responsibilities. I must insist that the house is sold and the Parish Council accepts the money only. I’ll speak to Mrs. Rokesby’s solicitor in the morning.”

Andrew didn’t comment, but Mr. Agnew saw to his concern the thoughtful look he was beginning to recognise and dread.


Mrs Rokesby was buried on Friday morning at a large and very well attended funeral. Daisy Richards, who as a friend and regular visitor of hers had done the church flowers, had once freed from Mrs Dunwoodie’s repressive presence, excelled herself. The church was filled with small and delicate posies of wild flowers and dog roses as Mrs Rokesby’s garden had always been.

On the way back from the funeral, several pigs were found to have been released onto the allotments, and it took the combined efforts of Andrew and Mr. Agnew to prevent several of the village men from coming to blows and to round up and return the pigs to their proper home.

Saturday morning was clear and crisp, chilly at first but with a bright blue sky that promised real heat once the day got going. Gideon came downstairs in a red brocade dressing gown and ate breakfast at the kitchen table with his newspaper while the Women’s Institute swarmed around him, plating scones and cakes and cutting strawberries. Andrew, already dressed in jeans and a short sleeved emerald silk shirt with dog collar, was cooking bacon sandwiches and setting out trestle tables with Mr. Ackwell in the garden and a wildly excited spaniel at his heels. All the house doors were open; it was somewhat like trying to eat in the middle of a train station. Gideon retreated into his study with his second cup of tea and shut the door.

The cake stall and the competition baking stalls were being carefully arranged, alongside a brimming flower stall when the first almighty BOOM raised several screams and sent a flock of birds from the nearby gardens zooming up into the air in panic.

“It’s fine,” Andrew called soothingly, placing the last trestle table for the children’s toy stall. “It’s Gideon, don’t worry.”

”Doing WHAT?” Mrs. Ackwell demanded, too shaken to be polite.

Andrew gave her a reassuring smile, heading past her to start collecting chairs from the village hall.

“He’s only playing with his cannon.”

”And he’ll actually mean that,” Mr. Dickinson pointed out to his wife who was laying out the book stall with him.

“It’s just a small one,” Andrew promised. “Mr. Ackwell, are you still planning to run tours of the church tower?”

For the next hour, the setting up of the fete was interrupted by intermittent and vibrating explosions from Gideon’s study.

Jo Dickson and Helen Fox from the school between them anchored the maypole in a vacant stretch of lawn and at ten am a gaggle of children appeared with their mothers, wearing shorts and school plimsolls, with varying levels of enthusiasm from the girls who were excitedly taking ribbons and dancing on the spot while Jo arranged them, to some of the boys who from the scowls were clearly there under protest.

“The Power Rangers don’t have to do maypoling,” Harry Vaughan said bitterly to Andrew when Andrew stopped to console him.

“No,” Andrew agreed sympathetically. “But I bet the Thunderbirds do.”

“My Dad said HE had to do maypoling when he was my age,” Harry said, looking bleakly at his ribbon.

“There you go then,” Andrew comforted him. “He turned out all right.”

Harry gave him a grim look. ”He said it made HIM feel like a bloody fairy too. And I’m not going to be a fairy. I’m going to be Spiderman.”

Well that ought to give an added twist to the maypole dancing display, Andrew reflected, moving hastily on before he lost control and laughed.

At half past ten , a group of men in white, hung with red and green ribbons and bells buckled around their wrists and ankles, made their way slightly shamefacedly up the vicarage steps and Mr. Ackwell tapped on the study window. Gideon opened the window courteously, taking in the group before him.


“It’s no good, Mr, West,” Mr Ackwell said apologetically. “We’ve been trying all week to get The Stripping of the Willow and it isn’t coming right, we know it isn’t- we had a bit of a talk and we thought with you being a choreographic maybe you wouldn’t mind having a look and giving a bit of advice like?”

For the remainder of that morning the Much Magden Morrismen danced by the front gate under the watchful eye and drilled instructions of Gideon and beside Joe Thatcher with his accordion, while Sam Broadbent in his Fool’s motley, wandered around amongst the giggling children, whapping them over the head with his bladder on a stick.

“What is he wearing?” Jo said with interest to Daisy Richards, watching Gideon take Sam aside and sternly instruct him in authentic capering as she went past with an armful of sashes for the children’s maypole dancing.

“It’s an Edwardian tennis suit.” Daisy gave Gideon a critical glance. “I’ll check the cut of the trousers; I actually think THAT style was Victorian. Oh Lord-“

Jo followed her eyes. And winced. Mrs. Dunwoodie, bearing the ceremonial cake boxes, was advancing across the lawn like a galleon in full sail.

Mrs. Dunwoodie, winner of the Best Scones at the fete for as long as anyone could remember AND winner of Best Homemade Jam for the last four years. From the martial light in her eyes she intended on taking her record to five.

By lunchtime cars were lining up outside the vicarage garden, and all sorts of people were crossing the lawn to kiss Gideon or Andrew, or both, and then setting up activities that made the women’s institute frankly gawk. A four piece brass band happily settled themselves with several cans of beer in the shade by Gideon’s study and played all afternoon. A chef laid out a stall, donned an apron and prepared to give demonstrations involving a lot of flaming pans and pancakes. One juggler, two acrobats and a puppeteer set up by the maypole and most of the children promptly defected to watch them.

A very old Rolls Royce swept up at the Vicarage gates at 1 pm and disgorged Lady Fforbes, Lord Fforbes and a solemn, small girl in an immaculate white frock.

“This is my granddaughter, little Amelia,” Lady Fforbes announced, kissing Andrew on the cheek. “Dear Vicar. Such a pleasure.”

”Do come and have a cup of tea,” Andrew invited. “The fete won’t open for half an hour yet. Lord Fforbes, good morning-“

”Good morning, Vicar,” Lord Fforbes was looking at the study window with growing fascination. “My word, is that really a cannon?”

“Just a small one,” Jo Dickinson said dryly. Andrew led the party towards the vicarage, Lady Fforbes taking his arm.

“Are you interested in weaponry at all, Lord Fforbes? Let me introduce you to my partner.”

“Would you like to come and see the man with the puppets while you wait?” Jo invited the sombre-faced little Amelia. “That’s where the other children are.”

”Yes, do run along,” Lady Fforbes encouraged. “We’ll be here.”

Hand in hand with Jo, Amelia walked sedately away across the grass.

Nearly 100 people filled the gardens by one thirty , when Lady Fforbes, ascending graciously onto a small stage provided by the school, made a few words of welcome through a crackling microphone.

“It is a great pleasure,” she said warmly over a sea of people holding balloons and carrier bags and wearing hats and sun cream, “To see so many of you here today, supporting your village and your local church. Community spirit is a wonderful thing. And I am delighted to hear just HOW your community spirit is manifesting itself in Much Magden. Due to the generous gift of the Rokesby family to the church in memory of the late Millie Rokesby, I have the pleasure to announce this afternoon that Mr. Agnew, chairman of the Parish Council, has organised ownership of a house in the village to be run by the council for the good of the parish. And I believe the initial use of the house will be to support a family recently rendered homeless by a fire. Ladies and Gentlemen, you should be proud to have such a Parish Council, and I am proud on their behalf to open this fete. May I ask for three cheers for Mr. Agnew and his wonderful Council members.”

Her audience, warm in the sun and happy to cheer anything that involved making a lot of noise, gave three rousing cheers. Mr. Agnew, his mouth slightly open, stood at Lady Fforbes elbow.

“And on that note,” Lady Fforbes announced, “I declare this fete open!”

“Mr. Agnew!” Andrew said warmly, taking his arm before he regained his breath. “This is a gentleman from the Towcester Herald, and these gentlemen here are from the Bugle and Post- and this I believe is a photographer from the county church magazine-“

Avoiding Gideon’s steady glare from the other side of the lawn, Andrew left Mr. Agnew in the hands of the journalists and went across to greet the Bishop who was arriving at the gate and delightedly accepting a balloon from the girl guides on ticket duty.

For the next two hours, the Maypole dancers Maypoled, being variously fairies and Spidermen and Thunderbirds but quietly in case Jo Dickinson spotted them; the Morris dancers Morrissed with unusually sound choreography and a lot more confidence than usual, Mr. Dickinson took people up the steep stairs into the church tower, the bell ringers rang bells, and the population of Much Magden bought cakes, books, children’s toys, cups of tea and tombola tickets. Lord Fforbes, taken to examine Gideon’s gun collection, emerged absolutely charmed with several Edwardian rifles and he and Gideon held an impromptu clay pigeon shoot at the far end of the garden which attracted the attention and admiration of almost every boy in the village and the participation of no few of the men. Lady Fforbes tasted cakes, scones and jam, followed by her cook who had agreed to join and help judge the competition and assigned rosettes accordingly. Mrs. Dunwoodie was vindicated to win her usual first prize for Best Scones. Daisy Richards won first prize for flower arranging, which went down less well. And her expression was far from Christian when the best jam was found to have been made by Gideon. Little Amelia Fforbes returned later that afternoon with a group of children including Sarah Vaughan and Kevin Dunkley, her white dress wet and muddy, her hands filthy, and her solemnity translated into a beaming smile over a plastic bucket of tadpoles.


“Andrew Farthingdale,” Gideon said grimly when Andrew shut the front door on the garden for the last time, around ten pm .

Almost all traces of the fete had vanished, tidied away by the women’s institute and the parish council and partners. Tables and chairs returned to their homes, stalls taken down, goods removed, bunting lowered. And he and Andrew, having had the satisfaction of seeing the fete a great success, invited the friends of theirs who had performed, to the nearest restaurant pub for dinner.

“Five hundred and thirty two pounds, seventy four pence,” Mr. Ackwell had announced at the end of the afternoon when he’d finished cashing up from the day’s takings. “That’s the best we’ve ever taken by far. I’ll see that gets banked first thing on Monday morning, Vicar.”

And the pat he’d given Andrew’s shoulder had been both amused and paternal- Andrew tended to raise those emotions in people- and held very mild reproof and no little affection.

Mr. Agnew, bewildered and his guns effectively spiked, had gone home to a large gin and tonic and the more stable properties of Gardener’s Questiontime on radio. Gideon had spent some time talking soothingly to him before he left.

“Don’t be cross,” Andrew said firmly, sailing into the kitchen with a Victoria sponge and a plate of scones, Pilate trotting ahead of him. “It was in a very good cause, it was brilliantly executed, it was virtually even inspired. If they’d had me at Troy they wouldn’t have needed a horse at all.”

”It was immoral, possibly illegal and absolutely indefensible,” Gideon said sternly. “Come here.”

“I need to put the scones away. AND the bunting. God help us ALL if we muddle up the bunting-“


There was a few seconds’ silence, then Andrew re-emerged, looking slightly plaintive. Pilate, picking up on trouble, slunk after him, looked between Gideon and Andrew and went to lie down behind Gideon, sinking his head on his paws.

“It DID have to be done. The house came to the church-“

”The church is run by the Parish COUNCI,” Gideon said austerely. “A group. A committee. NOT the strongest personality or the one best able to manipulate the others. The word for THAT is bullying.”

“Well that’s a bit strong,” Andrew protested. “That wouldn’t stand up as a crossword clue- moral force perhaps- and that man reminds me of the chair of the lollipop guild anyway, all he lacks is the red waistcoat-“

”You’ve effectively blackmailed Mr. Agnew into doing exactly what you want,” Gideon pointed out. “Having had the village informed en masse of what you say he’s going to do, plus being interviewed by most of the local press and cheered by the masses, he’s hardly going to be able to say he doesn’t agree! He didn’t, the poor man had to go along with you. He didn’t have much of a choice.”

“Sometimes doing the right thing means being assertive. Or creative. I can do creative.” Andrew danced on the spot- his thinking jive, it was a dead giveaway that he was starting to rack his brains. Gideon took firm hold of his hand.

“And sometimes YOU don’t know best. You have a responsibility to be part of the committee, Andrew Farthingdale, not to treat them like members of the chorus.”

“You have to admit they were being useless!” Andrew argued, following unwillingly upstairs. “All that worry about insurance and regulations and it all being too much trouble- it boiled down to not WANTING to be bothered to do what was needed!”

”Maybe. But you still do NOT force people into doing what you want,” Gideon said sternly. “Do you?”

There was a silence following that question. Interrupted by Gideon’s voice, still deeper as he paused on the landing and fixed his partner’s wide blue eyes with a hard glare.


“No,” Andrew admitted quietly.

“That was a totally unacceptable means of solving that problem. And you’ll need to apologise, thoroughly, to Mr. Agnew tomorrow. Shut the dog in the hall please.”

That was confirmation, as if he’d needed it. Andrew swallowed on rising butterflies and held the door open.

“Pilate. Go and lay down.”

The little spaniel gave him a somewhat hesitant look, recognising a disliked cue, then slowly went and flopped down on the landing. Andrew quietly shut the bedroom door on him. Pilate had no concerns about the quick and quiet formalities of a caning- it was when things got worse than that he tended to bark and get upset. And Andrew preferred not to be watched anyway.

Gideon took a seat on the end of the bed and held out a hand, waiting until Andrew went to him, then stripping him of his jeans with deft hands. And leaned over to pick up the wooden hairbrush from the dressing table as he drew Andrew around to his right. Even knowing what was coming, Andrew’s mouth promptly twisted at the sight of it, becoming less plaintive than flat out appealing,


Gideon turned Andrew across his lap without difficulty, anchoring him there and stripping him of his Union Jack striped boxer shorts. For a fairly tall man, Andrew had a roundness to him, curves that reminded Gideon of the Michelangelo Cherubs in Rome , a scene he and Andrew had spent one hot afternoon looking at some years ago. And from this angle Andrew himself looked a lot less assured and much more the Andrew Gideon knew. While he wasn’t struggling, he was stiff with apprehension, his back stiff, his fair head ducked. Gideon settled him at a more acute angle and brought the hairbrush down with a firm crack that elicited an immediate yell from Andrew and an earnest jump of protest. It didn’t gain him a pause in the proceedings. Gideon spent the next few minutes using the back of the solid wooden hairbrush with an emphatic and very accurate hand, painting Andrew’s white and twisting backside scarlet over his knee, and within a few of those sound smacks, Andrew’s cries began to hold tears in them.

He was crying hard and freely when Gideon laid the brush down and lowered him down to his knees on the carpet. The bed was a low one. Andrew knelt where he was and put his golden head down on Gideon’s lap, his hands under his forehead, his shoulders shaking. Gideon rested his folded hands on the back of Andrew’s neck, thinking of the Shepherd picture ‘Vespers’.

‘Little boy kneels at the foot of his bed, droops on his little hands, little gold head.‘

Hush, hush, come to the vicarage if you dare.

Gideon ran his fingers gently through the soft strands of Andrew’s hair.

There was dignity and formality to the cane, their usual means of handling most issues- acute, but quickly over with, and Andrew was never particularly upset by it. This was infinitely more personal, a far more demanding and intrusive penance, and for that reason Andrew found it a good deal more devastating- still more so that Gideon never spanked him unless he was really, seriously unhappy about something.

“I will apologise,” Andrew said somewhat unsteadily into his lap.

“Thankyou.” Gideon drew Andrew to his feet, steadying him until he had his balance. “Go and get yourself ready for bed.”

Andrew opened the door to the hall and Pilate promptly followed him into the bathroom. Gideon got up and undressed slowly. It was a beautiful summer evening, still warm despite the open window, and he could hear singing from the direction of the Frog and Bucket.

“It nearly broke her father’s heart when Lady Jane became a tart-“

Hoping that was not addressed to Lady Fforbes, Gideon opened the wardrobe to hang up his jacket.

“But blood is blood and race is race, and so to save the family’s face
      He bought her quite a cosy retreat on the shady side of Jermyn street -“

“I’m sorry.”

Andrew reappeared, subdued, naked and still tearful. Gideon sat down on the windowseat and pulled Andrew down into his lap, wrapping both arms around him, aware of the heat radiating from his scarlet bottom and of his twisting to shift his weight away from where he was sorest.

“Did Lady Forbes have a good time?”

“Ooh yes, she thoroughly enjoyed it all.” Andrew turned his head against Gideon’s shoulder, leaning heavily into him. Gideon nuzzled his hair back from his forehead and kissed him.

“And how much did the obscene vegetable competition make?”

“I won’t know until tomorrow,” Andrew said unblushingly. “Lord Fforbes is judging that now in the Frog and Bucket. But he’s promised to bring the winning vegetables to church tomorrow morning.”

~ The End~

Copyright Ranger 2010


Anonymous said...

Mrs. Dunwoodie, Gladys Cravitz, and my neighbor must all be related lol
Now, for some reason, my youngest and middle children LIKE broccoli... yeah, go figure, right? But my oldest, when he was little, asked me... "Why would I want to eat something that looks like a toxic atomic explosion?"
Anyway, I love these stories and would love to see more of Gideon and Andrew, and also more chapters on the unfinished ones. These stories just make me unbelievably happy. Thanks for sharing them. :D

Ranger said...

You're welcome! I love the atomic explosion description, how clever is that?

Key said...

These stories remind me so much of my childhood, not that we ever had a gay vicar, but we did have village fetes, morris dancing and the object of many of my nightmares...The Maypole!! seriously who ever invented those bloody things was seriously warped and I was seriously crap at it lol, I love these stories so much and haven't been able to get through one yet without laughing outloud.

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