Much Dithering in Little Botheringham – 3

‘Much Dithering in Little Botheringham’ is an everyday tale of village life and vampires, from Jane Jago and E.M. Swift-Hook.

Ginny felt a little helpless as the removers (or were they movers since it was the first time they’d moved her things?) huffed and struggled with her large white oak dresser.
“Please be careful with…”
“It’s alright Mrs. Withers, me boys know ‘ow to do it just fine.”
She cringed at the use of her married name. It was something she had hoped to leave behind in London, but as all the documents for the house she was selling had been in the name of Virginia Withers, she had found it more practical to do everything around the move in the same name. One of her less good life-choices had been to maintain her married name in daily life to avoid the issue of having people recognise her.
The first thing she planned to do when she had settled in was change the name on everything from her bank account to her utility bills to Cropper. She had been out of the limelight for five years, more than long enough to have sunk from view in the fast moving world of celebrity social media – besides who even read blogs nowadays. All the millennials preferred video format.
Catching a glimpse of herself in the dresser’s built-in mirror as it was carried into the house, Ginny suppressed a shudder at the thought of appearing on a video. She had put on more weight than was acceptable and her thinning hair, now mostly concealed under a brightly coloured scarf, had once been brilliant coppery waves and part of her trademark look.
“Any chance of a cuppa, missus?”
The chief remover who was called Stan or Dan – or was it Ian? – she hadn’t really listened when he introduced himself as she’d been worrying about the standing harp (shewas going to learn to play in the peace of the countryside) at the time.
“A cuppa?” She wondered if she would find her selection of organic detoxers in the ‘ready box’ she had prepared for the kitchen. A nice cup of rooibos would be nice or maybe a comforting ginger flake and lemon peel.
“Yeah. You know. Tea bags. Sugar. Milk. Mine’s two and leave it until its got a colour like it’s been in Ibiza a month.”
Ginny felt her mouth fall open into an O shape and that was the sound that came out of it too.
“Me and the lads been working pretty hard today. Cuppa would be nice. Wouldn’t mind a couple of bourbons or custard creams to go with it neither.”
“Custard creams?” Ginny started panicking. She was sure she had a few oatmeal and natural fruit biscuits in the ready box, but custard creams and builder’s tea?
“There an echo in here?” Ian – or was it Stan, she so wished she had been paying more attention – gave her a cheerful grin. “Passed a shop up the road, if you’re needing milk you could try there,” he said helpfully. “We’ll carry on here, don’t you worry.”
It was one of those situations Ginny loathed. 
The last thing she wanted to do was go to the local shop looking like this. She knew these communities could be very judgemental on first impressions and if she made a bad one it might be years before they accepted her here. But if she didn’t provide the refreshments Dan was demanding, who knew how he’d treat her furniture?
Giving way in the face of grim inevitability, she rescued her shoulder bag from her car and headed back along the road towards the village shop. It had been one of the selling points of both the cottage and the village for her. Firstly that there was a thriving village shop – complete with a post office counter at the back – and secondly that the cottage was no more than five minutes walk away from it. 
The walk took her past the little church which was apparently one of the finest examples of some style of architecture in the country. Looking at it she had to wonder if that was brutalist or utilitarian, then she realised that she was studying the church hall and the church itself was on the other side of the road. 
Feeling embarrassed by her mistake, even though no one need ever know she had made it, Ginny put her head down and increased her pace. Which was why she nearly ran into a solid muscular torso, covered with manly hair coming in the other direction, attached to a pair of equally hirsute legs in shorts and trainers.
Gasping out an apology, she stepped aside at the last moment and glanced up to see a face that belonged on the set of the latest BBC period drama. That made her miss the fact she was on the edge of the pavement and had a strong arm not shot out to catch her, she would have wound up sitting in the road very likely with a twisted ankle.
“S-sorry,” she said and the face gave her a tolerant smile. The sort it probably gave to elderly ladies, young children and journalists. Then she was standing on the pavement again and the runner had gone.
She reached the village shop feeling a little overwhelmed and took a moment to sit on the bench outside. A plaque proudly declared it had been provided by the Little Botheringham Ladies Association and she felt oddly grateful to them for allowing her a place to gather her wits after bumping into Ross Poldark and before braving the village postmistress.
In fact she found the owner of the shop to be quite charming and not at all the severe and judgemental type. Her style was smart casual denim, dark designer jeans with a grey worsted jacket.
“Angela Pendle-Burton,” she said and held out a hand. “You must be she who has taken on Flo Maybush’s cottage.”
“Taken on?” Ginny suddenly realised she was beginning to resemble a mynah bird. But people kept saying such odd things.
“Oh, so you didn’t know?”
“There’s something wrong with it? I had all the checks done so…”
“No. No.” Angela held up both hands displaying a heavy gold link bracelet as she did so. “It’s just Florence was in the Ladies Association so I sort of thought…” She trailed off and smiled then went back to scanning and packing Ginny’s purchases.
“The Ladies’ Association seems to be very active here.”
“Oh yes, very. They look after the village very well. They  funded the cricket pavilion being rebuilt and the new children’s playground. And when there was talk of closing the school they organised a huge campaign to save it. And we are the only outlying village which still has an hourly bus service into Bedchester. Everyone appreciates the work they do for us.”
It came to Ginny that if she wanted local acceptance then maybe this offered a way to get it.
“That sounds very worthy,” she said, swiping her card to pay for the tea, milk and biscuits. “How does one join the Association? I’d love to be involved in village life like that.”
Angela gave her the same strange look as before.
“I’m not sure you’d… But still. Here.” She reached under the counter and produced what looked to be a business card.
The bell that announced someone had opened the shop door jangled and Ginny turned to see the jogger come in, still clad in shorts.
“Oh hello, vicar,” Angela greeted him cheerfully. “Come for your usual?”
“Yes please, Mrs. Pendle-Burton and I’m hoping for something a bit extra today.”
His voice was deep and as he spoke his gaze locked with Ginny’s stirring something uneasy somewhere below her navel. She snatched up her shopping and took the card Angela was holding out, dropping it into the bag as she scurried out of the shop.
Part 4 of Much Dithering in Little Botheringham by Jane Jago and E.M. Swift-Hook, will be here next week.

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