I was about to post the page---once again from a story that was completed in 2007---when I realised that I just was not happy with one panel.
So in my never ending quest to give to you all my very best, I've pulled the page and hope to be publishing it next week, with the new panel and the old page to show you why I made you wait.
Once again, sorry for the delay but I'm sure you will thank me.
In the meantime, here's an extra Friday treat: this is part of a short Sleepy Hamlet tale that will make up a collection of five such stories, due to be published by March 2014
Tora, Tora, Tora
Mrs Markle, the village post mistress, stomped heavily down the street that ran through the village of Sleepy Hamlet. She cornered violently and turned into her post office causing the little bell to spasm with shock.
“Something must be done” she shouted to Miss Vera, her frightened little field mouse of an assistant. “this simply cannot be allowed to continue; the very existence of the countryside is threatened and from a foreigner. A foreigner, I tell you, and the very worst kind of foreigner ---an invasive foreigner!” She stood, stock still like a frizzy haired Mussolini, hands on hips in the middle of the fruit preserves section with her herculean bosoms quivering like two very angry jellies.
As usual, Mrs Markle had spotted something on her afternoon walk that had offended her to the very core of her being; not a difficult thing to do when you had a fuse as short as Mrs Markle’s and were a puritan, and as such felt it your moral duty to become agitated at least four times a day.
“Well, aren’t you going to ask me what I’m so fired up about?” Miss Vera didn’t want to ask at all. She knew that it would lead to an out pouring of futile anger and frustration on behalf of her employer. She knew that if she asked ‘what was the matter’ Mrs Markle would stomp around the store, shouting so loud the shops’ mullioned windows would vibrate, her ears would ring and her nerve endings would jangle. But she also knew that to deny Mrs Markle her valve releasing moment of fury was tantamount to mutiny. So she gulped the gulp of the nervously dispositioned and asked:
“What is upsetting you so much, Mrs Markle?”
“HIMALAYAN BALSAM WEED!”
The sudden outburst sent Miss Vera crashing into a display of Arran Island Knitting Patterns, causing them to scatter.
Mrs Markle ignored her shrew like assistant as she scrambled around, picking up the slippery plastic pattern cases while attempting to re assemble the stack. Instead Mrs Markle stomped and stamped her way around the shop, snorting like a bull at her inner turmoil.
“HAVE YOU ANY IDEA HOW INVASIVE HIMALAYAN BALSAM IS?” Miss Vera shrugged her shoulders and gave Mrs Markle a weak smile before continuing with her re construction duties.
“DO YOU EVEN KNOW WHAT HIMALAYAN BALSAM IS, MISS VERA?!” Once again, the timid shop assistant shrugged her shoulders in the universal expression of ignorance.
“Well I’ll tell you what Himalayan Balsam is, Miss Vera. IT’S AN INVASIVE RIVER WEED OF THE FAMILY IMPARTIENS WALLEREIANA--- A PLANT THAT USED TO BE CONTENT TO LIVE IN THE PLANT POTS OF A GRATEFUL AND JOYOUS NATION. THAT WAS UNTIL THE LITTLE SUBVERSIVES GOT BITTEN BY THE NOMADIC BUG AROUND 100 YEARS AGO AND MOVED ONTO THE NATIONS RIVERBANKS AND BEGAN A CHOKING COLONISATION OF THEM. AND ON MY WALK TODAY I NOTICED THAT A LARGE GROUP--- PROBABLY AN ADVANCE SCOUTING PARTY---- HAS TAKEN UP RESIDENCE ON THE FAR BANKS OF OUR VERY OWN RIVER BRIMSMAL!”
And with a petulant huff worthy of an over pampered pop star, Mrs Markle stormed off to the back of her village store.
Miss Vera, who had tightened her eyes against the tirade, slowly began to open them. Gingerly, she first opened the one, then the other. She began to check the room and having satisfied herself that everything was as it should be she turned to where her employer had been standing a few seconds ago. But Mrs Markle was no longer there, and when she heard the familiar noises of the little hand printer being pumped into action, she raised her eyes heaven wards and sighed.
Mrs Markle had inherited a small hand printing press from her grandfather who had run a successful print business and Village Newspaper many years ago out of what was now the village stores. Mrs Markle lovingly looked after the antique Adana print press and made great use of it for her many leafleting campaigns on behalf of the damned and gossipy souls of her fellow villagers.
Miss Vera put the last few knitting patterns down and followed the ‘chugga-kachugga-kachuga-kachuga’ noises into the back room. When she peered around the door frame Mrs Markle was violently pumping the printer and churning out a hastily prepared leaflet. One of them came out at such a velocity that it cleared the collection tray and flew towards Miss Vera before halting mid air and dropping to a soft landing where it slid along the sparkling storeroom floor to a halt at the sensible shoes of Miss Vera. She picked it up and read what was written
NOTICE TO ALL VILLAGERS.
WE ARE BEING INVADED BY FOREIGNERS
PLEASE COME TO THE VILLAGE
HALL TONIGHT TO DISCUSS TACTICS!
A TALK TO BE GIVEN BY MRS MARKLE
Free cup of tea and individual
Cherry Bakewell on entry
8 til late
Miss Vera would have liked to tell her employer that the leaflet was a bit over the top and that the language used was a tad emotive. But before she could pluck up the courage to question the indomitable wall of tweed that was Mrs Markle, she was being brushed aside by her employer, who had grabbed the freshly printed bundle of flyer's and was heading towards the door.
“I shan’t be long, Miss Vera. Mind the shop for me will you, I’m going to put these up all over the village” and before she could raise a finger of enquiry, the door had been opened, slammed shut again and the booted feet of Mrs Markle were disappearing into the village.
Miss Vera looked at the leaflet again. ‘Oh my’ she thought ‘I just know this isn’t going to end well’
As the afternoon rolled on and the villagers began to file into the store to find out more about the invasion force that was being unleashed against them, Mrs Markle held court but stayed tight lipped, insisting that yes, they really were under attack and yes she would explain all later and yes there really was going to be Cherry Bakewell’s with the cup of tea and no, Mr Barton couldn’t have an extra one for his wife who would’ve loved to come but was too busy grouting the bathroom walls. She even managed to keep the terrifyingly Germanic Mrs Heppleheimer at bay, who’d turned up prepared for war--- resplendent in her World War 1 helmet, topped off with the spike. To each and every one of them Mrs Markle insisted they wait until tonight to hear all the facts.