Runs In The Family: Part Twenty-Two

This is the twenty-second part of a fiction serial, in 800 words.

Dakin Hall benefited greatly from Aileen becoming the mistress. The staff were given increases in pay, and allowed better food too. They were also called by their names, rather than the use of such terms as ‘Girl’, or ‘You’. Aileen also insisted that they accompany the famly to church on Sundays, and local carters were hired to save them the long walk. Everyone who worked in or around the house had never been more content, and jobs at The Hall became the most sought after in the county.

Aileen’s no nonsense atitude changed the atmosphere in the family too. She allowed Esmerlda to continue to do nothing, and left her to it without complaint or bitterness. James continued to be cared for, and his every need taken care of. Oscar was suitably impressed, and told Abraham what a wonderful job his young wife was doing. And Abraham’s all too brief visit that year left Aileen expecting another addition to the family too. Then Oliver returned from his education, set to study under his father with a view to taking over the business one day. With some of the Dakin men still serving in the military, his once professed desire to follow them was not allowed.

The young man was overwhelmed by Aileen, though she failed to notice his growing obsession with her.

The new mistress was just as popular around the town. Respectful greetings followed her every appearance, and she was always addressed as Mistress Dakin. Her polite manner impressed tradespeople and shopkeepers alike, yet all could see she was no fool, despite her youth. The polite society of the county was less enamoured, and social invitations faied to appear for the daughter of a tavern-keeper. But this was as nothing to Aileen, who was relieved not to have to suffer the boring tea parties and stuffy dances.

In the quiet of her own room, she kept up the journal that she had discovered. Her careful script continuing to relate the day to day life of the family, and the world events surrounding them too. And she was sure to set time aside for little Spencer, delighting in late afternoon play with her son.

That winter was harsh, and continued to be so as the year turned.

One snowy night, Esmerlda went into labour. No doctor or midwife could get up to The Hall in time, so Aileen tried her best with the delivery, helped by two maids, and the cook. But the child was not breathing when it appeared, and no amount of rocking it before the fire or slapping the infant would work. When the town doctor arrived just before dawn, he pronounced the baby dead, and turned his attention to Esmerelda.

She had continued to bleed following the delivery of her stillborn daughter. Years of eating little and taking no exercise had left her weak too, and with no hope of a surgeon arriving from Colchester, Esmerelda died just before midday.

Despite her exhausting night, Aileen immediately wrote letters to Henry and Richard, informing them of the terrible news. Both were unlikely to get leave, and the travel conditions were such that they would be unable to get home in time anyway. Esmerelda was interred in the family plot in the town churchyard the following afternoon. Her baby was named Florence, and buried in the coffin with her.

Ignoring the sadness affecting the family, Aileen determined to not only keep the household running as normal, but also to ensure that the poor people around the town did not suffer due to the continuing winter. She spoke to Oscar and Oliver about deferring some payments due from tenant farmers, and organised the distribution of bread and vegetables to those suffering hardship. By the time the thaw began, and Abraham was able to return home, he was delighted to see his young wife so well regarded by all.

She also remained unaware of the hidden affections of Oliver, and his jealousy at her carrying a child. The young man became withdrawn and churlish around her, causing her to wonder what offence she might have inadvertantly shown him. For his part, he took out his frustrations on the local wildlife, becoming a keen hunter. He also began to associate with some of the town girls, much to the disapproval of his father. Oscar seriously considered sending him off to the army after all, but needed to know he had someone capable of passing on the business to.

By the time Aileen successfully delivered a second son, Oliver hardly spoke to anyone, and spent much of his free time carousing around the town.

The new baby was named George Abraham, and his bright red hair was just like his mother’s.

Six For Dinner

An old post from 2014, and a little fantasy game to think about during lockdown. Who would be your ideal dinner companions, alive or dead? Please let me know in the comments.


One subject often discussed when personalities are interviewed, is who would make the perfect dinner guest. Which notable people, past or present, would make your ideal evening, around the convivial setting of a dining table. Of course, almost everyone will have a different guest list. Some may choose attractive stars, others inventive geniuses. Many might want to discuss things with the great thinkers and philosophers, or even the most reviled characters from history, just to see what they were really like. You might decide to invite a famous chat-show host, a person who has interviewed everyone of note during your lifetime, or prefer to meet the famous names of antiquity, and discover their real story.

For my dinner party, I have imagined a table set for six people. As one of them will have to be me, I have thought long and hard about the five guests who will join…

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Thank you, Mr Welles

Reblogging this personal tribute to Orson Welles from 2013. Not many of you will have seen it before.


Orson Welles is considered by many to be the greatest film maker in history. I do not necessarily agree with that, although I do consider him to be one of the greatest actors of all time. His voice alone is worth a career, let alone his charismatic presence in a film.

As a very young man, I was captivated by him on film at the cinema, and on TV, when his films were shown there. His brief appearances in ‘The Third Man’, lift the film totally, and his wry grin steals every scene that he is in. Whatever you might think of him, his talent is surely indisputable, and from an early age, he showed the touch of genius that would characterise his life in cinema. The ensemble cast of his best known films, ‘The Magnificent Ambersons’, and ‘Citizen Kane’, was to follow him throughout his all too short film…

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Covid-19: Some Useful Information.

I am reposting this from Ed Westen’s blog.
Solid advice and information about what the virus actually is, and what you can do to try to fight it.

Johns Hopkins University has sent this detailed note on avoiding the contagion:

* The virus is not a living organism, but a protein molecule (DNA) covered by a protective layer of lipid (fat), which, when absorbed by the cells of the ocular, nasal or buccal mucosa, changes their genetic code. (mutation) and convert them into aggressor and multiplier cells.
* Since the virus is not a living organism but a protein molecule, it is not killed, but decays on its own. The disintegration time depends on the temperature, humidity and type of material where it lies.
* The virus is very fragile; the only thing that protects it is a thin outer layer of fat. That is why any soap or detergent is the best remedy, because the foam CUTS the FAT (that is why you have to rub so much: for 20 seconds or more, to make a lot of foam). By dissolving the fat layer, the protein molecule disperses and breaks down on its own.
* HEAT melts fat; this is why it is so good to use water above 25 degrees Celsius for washing hands, clothes and everything. In addition, hot water makes more foam and that makes it even more useful.
* Alcohol or any mixture with alcohol over 65% DISSOLVES ANY FAT, especially the external lipid layer of the virus.
* Any mix with 1 part bleach and 5 parts water directly dissolves the protein, breaks it down from the inside.
* Oxygenated water helps long after soap, alcohol and chlorine, because peroxide dissolves the virus protein, but you have to use it pure and it hurts your skin.
* NO BACTERICIDE SERVES. The virus is not a living organism like bacteria; they cannot kill what is not alive with anthobiotics, but quickly disintegrate its structure with everything said.
* NEVER shake used or unused clothing, sheets or cloth. While it is glued to a porous surface, it is very inert and disintegrates only between 3 hours (fabric and porous), 4 hours (copper, because it is naturally antiseptic; and wood, because it removes all the moisture and does not let it peel off and disintegrates). ), 24 hours (cardboard), 42 hours (metal) and 72 hours (plastic). But if you shake it or use a feather duster, the virus molecules float in the air for up to 3 hours, and can lodge in your nose.
* The virus molecules remain very stable in external cold, or artificial as air conditioners in houses and cars. They also need moisture to stay stable, and especially darkness. Therefore, dehumidified, dry, warm and bright environments will degrade it faster.
* UV LIGHT on any object that may contain it breaks down the virus protein. For example, to disinfect and reuse a mask is perfect. Be careful, it also breaks down collagen (which is protein) in the skin, eventually causing wrinkles and skin cancer.
* The virus CANNOT go through healthy skin.
* Vinegar is NOT useful because it does not break down the protective layer of fat.
* NO SPIRITS, NOR VODKA, serve. The strongest vodka is 40% alcohol, and you need 65%.
* LISTERINE IF IT SERVES! It is 65% alcohol.
* The more confined the space, the more concentration of the virus there can be. The more open or naturally ventilated, the less.
* This is super said, but you have to wash your hands before and after touching mucosa, food, locks, knobs, switches, remote control, cell phone, watches, computers, desks, TV, etc. And when using the bathroom.
* You have to HUMIDIFY HANDS DRY from so much washing them, because the molecules can hide in the micro cracks. The thicker the moisturizer, the better.
* Also keep your NAILS SHORT so that the virus does not hide there.

Film nostalgia

After a brief exchange on Twitter earlier, I decided to reblog this 2015 post about one of my favourite films. Apologies to those of you who have already seen it.


(This is about the 1967 film, not the 2013 remake.)

When I first saw the film ‘Bonnie and Clyde’, I was fifteen years old. I liked it so much, I went to see it again the following week. I didn’t know a lot about Warren Beatty or Faye Dunaway at the time. I had never heard of Estelle Parsons, Gene Wilder, or Gene Hackman either. I thought I recognised the strange face of Michael J. Pollard, but I didn’t know where I might have seen it. The man playing the Texas Ranger was Denver Pyle, and I knew him immediately, from old westerns. The same applied to Dub Taylor, who played the father of C.W. Moss in the film.

I had been going to the cinema for as long as I was old enough to sit up straight in the seat. I had seen all kinds of films…

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Thinking Aloud On a Sunday

Had enough.

I woke up early with painful leg cramp this morning, and couldn’t get back to sleep. It is a warm and sunny day, but I couldn’t care less.

I am moany, grumpy, and fed up to my back teeth.

Still tired and sleepy, despite twice as much sleep as normal. Exhausted from doing very little, and zero enthusiasm to do more.

The PC and keyboard problems are stopping me being able to comfortably write my serial, so by the time that is back again, I expect everyone will have lost track of it.

And to add to that, my comments are failing to appear on at least a dozen sites.

I should be excited about a new computer arriving next week, but I’m not in the least. More tech to struggle with, at a time when I feel little inclination to do anything of the kind.

I have a noise in my left ear that sounds like the tide coming in, and a niggling headache that won’t seem to go away.

Fed up doesn’t even begin to cover it.

I have had enough.

Sorry, but all that just had to come out.


Six comments I have left this morning have not appeared.
I might be in ‘Spam Jail’ again.
Please check your folders, and let me out on bail.

I have really had enough this week, to be honest. Keyboard malfunctions, PC crashes, and now this.

Fed up! Seriously.

(Mary, Fraggle, Nicholas, Lara, Rachel, Wilma, Roland, and others)

Seems to be on .org, .com, and self-hosted sites. WP sites appear to be getting through.