The next few days were fairly quiet in the family house and although they went out most days it was all a bit of a come down after the birthday day. The boys did spend some time in the garden with the dogs and doing their hobbies together. Jamie's attempt at drawing left something to desire while David's attempts at meccano tended to wobble about and was unstable.
Angela filled out the application for the post of deputy director of children's services after she phoned Bill Kent re the taking her notice as holiday, to which he happily agreed.
Tony had a follow up on Hepworth and Daws from Zulu 1. It looked as if they might be setting up a home for young street boys in Madrid and the Zulu team would keep an eye on progressions. Tony thought, 'That doesn't auger well.'
The dogs started to find their feet in the household and didn't seem to mind being left in the house on their own. At night they started to wangle their way onto the boy's beds.
John and Stan came around one afternoon and spent some up time with David and Jamie.
Inevitably Saturday morning arrived with David and Jamie waking extra early with their nerves a little shaky about the visit to St Andrews school later. They had spoken together about them going there and hoped they would get in. Although both were intelligent boys David was worried that he might have got a bit behind with school work because of the troubled times he had been through. Jamie sat with him while he practiced some old work and they found they were almost on the same level, much to David's relief.
Tony and Angela got up early as well because they both suffered from worry about the boy's education. Probably they didn't need to but like most caring parents it was on their minds.
Everyone finally ended being upbeat about the visit and by the time they got into the car they were all in a more cheery mood.
They arrived at the school and found the car park already quite full. That was when the nerves kicked in again. They parked the car and moved to the entrance where a boy of about 16 came up to them and introduced himself to them as Jeremy Thomas. They all greeted him back in return.
"I will be showing you round the school before you meet the masters' sir," he said to Tony.
"Thank you, Jeremy, that is very kind of you to give up your time."
"Not a problem sir. I am a prefect here and all prefects are expected to be on duty today."
David and Jamie were in awe of Jeremy, he looked all grown up and in his school uniform he looked very smart. They wanted to speak to him but had suddenly become tongue tied.
Jeremy seemed to notice and spoke directly to the boys in a very friendly way.
"What are your names?"
The boys gave him their names and Jeremy spoke again only to them.
"Well David and Jamie, I was eight when I first came through the gate and like you I was a bit confused. Now I am a prefect and have enjoyed every minute at St Andrews. The thing is we all want to be here. It is a brilliant school with brilliant teachers and more importantly friendly boys, unlike some of the state schools with their bullies and the like and dare I say, some rather poor teachers, so let's get going on your trip."
Tony and Angela were more than impressed with the simple way that Jeremy put the boys at ease and Tony made it obvious to him by stating his thanks later in the morning.
There were lots of parents and children milling round but in the assembly hall they bumped into Stan and his foster parents. The boys recognised each other and explained who was who. The prefect escorting Stan whose name was Colin joined forces with Jeremy and they all continued the tour of the school together.
During the tour one or two younger boys in the school uniform came up and shook hands with the prefects and greeting them with the words, 'Good morning prefect'. This amused the trio of boys but a stern look from Tony stopped them.
He spoke kindly to the three of them and said. "Discipline is a very important part of life boys, For example, in the army I had to rely on my team to keep us all safe. Without our discipline then it is probable that we may have been killed. The prefects have earned the respect of other boys by being excellent role models to them and so, they in turn show that respect by shaking their hand and giving the greeting."
The boys felt a bit sheepish and said they were sorry to Jeremy and Colin who in their turn told them not to worry as if they came to St Andrews they would soon get used to it. Jeremy added that the teachers, called masters, were greeted of a morning with, 'good morning master'.
At the end of the tour Jeremy took Tony, Angela, David, and Jamie to a senior master's office for an interview. He introduced himself as Mr Edwards and he taught English and biology. The boys surprised the parents by going forward and saying, "Good morning master."
He politely replied, "Good morning boys, and thank you."
Tony could see the pride in the boys and he had to admit that he was also proud of them.
"Please, all take a seat and we'll get on and have an informal chat. It takes around 45 minutes. If you have questions as we go along please ask. Now first David and Jamie, why do you want to come to St Andrews."
David started the reply and said. "We know some boys from here and they said it was a great school and everyone was kind."
Jamie continued. "They also said that the masters were better than our school because they cared about the boys they taught."
And so the interview continued and Angela and Tony found they had little to ask Mr Edwards as the boys covered almost all the questions they were going to ask. At the end of the interview Mr Edwards explained that they only took a limited number of boys each year but was pleased to tell them that if they wanted to come to St Andrews they would be accepted.
The boys looked pleadingly at their parents who just smiled and nodded. Mr Edwards then wrote their names on a list then shook everybody's hands and wished the boys the rest of a happy holiday and he would see them in September term start. Before they left Tony was given a large envelope with all the information needed for the start of term. They returned to the car realising that it was past noon and hunger pangs were imminent. They bumped into Stan and his parents again briefly and were told that Stan was selected for the coming term. All the boys jumped around together but then thought of their other friend John who was remaining at the state school and immediately lost a bit of enthusiasm but as young boys will they rapidly returned to high spirits knowing they would still see him. The family bade Stan and his parent's goodbye. They all got into Angela's car and they set off to town and hunt out a restaurant for lunch. As they were already over the Falmer side of the downs they decided to go to the village pub in Falmer for a bar lunch of sausage and mash with onion gravy. The pub was not too busy and they found a table quite easily by a window. As they had already decided on what to have Tony ordered four and got wine for him and Angela. Just for a change the boys wanted orange squash. Over lunch, between mouthfuls they talked about the morning at the school. By the end of lunch the general consensus was 100% in favour of the school and its facilities. Angela asked if, as it was a nice day, did anyone want to go to the house on the hill. They all did but the boys wanted to get the dogs first and although it was a long way round Angela agreed. It took about 45 minutes to do the round trip and sadly for the first time in a while a mist was laying on the hill. That did not stop the family from going for a lovely long walk along the bridleways and footpaths passing old derelict barns, fields of corn, sheep and yellow fields that looked like mustard, but were in fact a new subsidised crop of rape, This was grown for the seeds to make rapeseed oil. Not everybody was in favour of the crop, despite its attractive colour, because of the after effects of the crop which left windblown seeds in the ground of the field it was grown in plus all over connecting fields.
The round trip took them over 2 hours which coincidentally just came in line for tea. In the previous few days Angela had brought some tea up to the house on the hill ready for when they moved so all the makings were readily available. David and Jamie made the tea for their parents which made a nice treat for them. There were also some custard creams biscuits from a fresh packet in one of the cupboards and by the time everybody including the dogs the packet was soon empty.
While they were indoors Tony asked the boys if they wanted their own bedroom as originally arranged or did they want to go on sharing a big bedroom. A foregone conclusion really after having had shared a room for a few days. They wanted to continue sharing a room for the time being. So Tony took them upstairs to look at the biggest room and work out the design. They each needed wardrobe space, a work desk and chair and of course a bed each. At the moment the bed was a double but one of the smaller rooms had two single beds so it would be easy enough to swap them over. There was also in the same room a wardrobe. That left them needing two work desks and a radio. They could get those in the next week and they would be in place for the move. All too soon it was time to return home to Brighton and with the washing up done that's what they did. They hadn't been indoors more than five minutes when the phone rang. Tony answered and called Angela. It was her dad for her. She took the phone and listened to her father. Tony noticed she had started shaking.
"When dad? Where is she now? I'll go there straight away."
Tony seeing his love distressed asked. "What's up love?"
Angela started to cry and between sob explained. "Mum's had a stroke, she's in The Royal Sussex. Dad said she is stable but she has lost feeling down one side."
"Oh babe, boys, Grandma has had a stroke and mum and I are going to go and see her. I don't like leaving you alone but it will be better if you stay here together with the dogs, we'll be back as soon as we can."
Jamie answered for the boys. "OK dad we'll be alright and we won't answer the door. Will grandma be alright?"
"We hope so Jamie, try not to worry too much. We're off now then."
As their parents left David hugged his brother and said. "She will be alright Jamie." He said without any conviction. The boys held each other and the dogs sensing their distress snuggled up to their owners.
Angela and Tony arrived at the hospital and found George in the corridor outside an ICU ward. As soon as he saw them he hugged Angela around the waist and cried, she cried along with him. Tony felt redundant until the two broke and George shook Tony's hand and thanked him for coming. They spent over 2 hours before a doctor came out to talk to them. He addressed George. "Mr Aldridge, your wife is comfortable and although the stroke disabled her I think she will recover ok. You can go in and see her now but I advise you to go home afterwards as she will sleep the rest of the night now and we will know more in the morning. Ring up about 8-30 in the morning."
George thanked the doctor and the three of them went into the small ward. Gladys was asleep and looked as if nothing was wrong with her. She looked very peaceful. All three kissed her and left for the night, Tony and Angela giving George a lift home on their way. They bade George goodnight and then Angela's dam burst. Tony held her close, reassuring her. Slowly the tears subsided, Angela dried her eyes and they went home.
Had anyone been in the ward where Gladys slept they would have seen the chart at the end of her bed rustle in the breeze.
Tony just got the door open when he was assaulted by two boys wanting to know how grandma was. They were relieved to hear she wouldn't die but would be in hospital a while. It had been a long day so everyone went off to bed. Angela cried a little in Tony's arms but soon dropped off to sleep. The boys sat up a while and chatted about their visit to the school that morning but tiredness soon overcame them. Before they finally went to sleep they said a little prayer for grandma. At that moment at the hospital the chart at the end of grandma's bed rustled in the breeze again.
The morning came with everyone refreshed but itching to find out about grandma. As it turned out they needn't have worried. The phone went long before 8-30 and it was George phoning to say that grandma had woken up at 6am full of beans and wondering why she was in hospital. That was such good news to everyone and a feeling of relief invaded the house. They had breakfast and then went off to visit grandma. She was sitting in a chair by her bed looking as fit as a fiddle. David got a chance to whisper in her ear. "Grandma did you hear the wind?"
Grandma smiled and said. "Yes darling I felt it twice."
David smiled as well. "I thought you did." He said. "It told me in a dream."
The doctor came in and spoke to George.
"I have seen some pretty strange things in my time as a doctor, Mr Aldridge, but this takes a bit of getting used to. Your wife when she arrived last night was quite sick. This morning she seems as fit as a fiddle. We will check her for another 24 hours and if she stays as stable as she is she can go home tomorrow."
The family stayed for a while and then returned George back home. On the way home David said that grandma had felt the wind. The other 3 had also had a premonition that she had.
The day that followed was a bit of a muddle. Tony had to get himself ready for his first day at work as the children's almoner. The boys were helping Angela to start packing boxes to move to the house on the hill. The dogs were restless feeling the atmosphere in the house a bit more tense than normal. The only break was Sunday Lunch where they went out for a roast dinner at a local hotel. By nine that evening the boys were shattered and ready for bed so they showered and did just that. Once in bed they chatted about grandma.
David and Jamie chatted about grandma, began to realise that the wind was a power for good. They said goodnight to each other and were asleep almost straight away.
Tony and Angela were in a good mood when the boys went up to bed and spent a while having a quiet time cuddle. A hot chocolate later and it was time to go up early ready for an upcoming busy week. They called in on the boys and gave them a peck on the forehead and then went to bed.
The sun was through the bedroom window of the boy's room quite early. Jamie was woken by Beauty licking his face. A bit groggily he greeted her and said. "Want to go out girl."
The licking increased as if to say yes so he got up and took both dogs down stairs and let them into the garden. He turned back indoors and David was behind him.
"Thanks for taking Bella with you Jamie. I expect she was busting too."
"Do you know what time dad starts work David?"
"I am not sure but I think he said nine o'clock"
Jamie looked at the clock and said.
"Shall we make them some tea?"
"Yep, you put the kettle on and I will put the tea in the pot. Then we can take a cup up each."
They set about the task but before they could complete it both their parents appeared dressed and ready for the day ahead. They gave the boys a hug and thanked them for starting the tea but that they should go upstairs and get washed and dressed. They both shot upstairs and rapidly sorted themselves out.
Back down stairs the dogs were hinting about their snacks so that was the next job. Breakfast was light that morning with just cereal and toast. Afterwards the boys washed up and dried the dishes and put them away.
8-30 arrived and time for Tony to head off to work. They all went with him to the door to see him off wishing him luck. He in turn gave them all a kiss goodbye telling Angela that he would phone about 1 o'clock if he had time.
Later that morning after two runs to the new house, they got a phone call from George at the hospital telling them that grandma was ready to go home. Could Angela take them? Angela explained what they were doing but would after the next run. By 11o'clock they were at the hospital and Angela's parents were waiting outside. The boys squeezed up to let granddad in while grandma sat in the front with Angela. The boys chatted with both grandparents until they got to their house where they got out and went indoors. The boys and Angela carried on conveying gear until 12-45 and were back in Brighton to wait for Tony's call.
Tony called exactly on 1pm. Angela answered the phone straight away and after the usual greetings Tony filled her in on his morning. Most of it had been taken up with a long meeting between heads of departments with June Archer from the children's department in attendance. The morning had been constructive with Tony laying down how he saw himself fulfilling the post of almoner. He told the meeting that it was his intention to visit every child in the hospital at least once a week whether they may need his services or not. By doing that he hoped that not a single child would slip through the net of need or abuse.
He was working through his lunch to get some procedures on their way for future approval. He then asked how Angela's morning had been and how were the boys.
She told him how much they had managed to move between them, that mum was back home full of beans. Seemed the wind had been at work again according to David.
Tony was somewhat taken aback at that news and wondered then just what influence this mysterious wind would have on their families' future lives. Tony then asked to talk to the boys who were listening to the conversation itching to talk to their dad. Both boys had a short conversation with him and then handed the phone back to Angela.
Tony said he had better go and he would see them just after 6pm. Over phone kisses were exchanged and Tony rang off.
A quick sandwich lunch and Angela and the boys got back to moving possessions to the new house. First trip of the afternoon included the bikes and the temptation to ride them around once they were there had to be gently curtailed by Angela with the promise that as soon as they were finally moved they could use them as much as they liked, much to the disappointment of the boys. They took the last load at 5 o'clock and after putting it away they were all just about exhausted. Before they set off back for Brighton Angela praised the boys for their hard work. Their chests puffed out with pride and thanked her.
The dogs had had a boring day just being allowed out in the garden so the first job when they got back home was for the boys to go and play with them in the garden. Balls were thrown and collected and returned and thrown again. Meanwhile Angela phoned her mum and found out she was in fine fettle but dad was tired from his exertions of the last 2 days. She put the phone down as the boys and dogs came back in. Dog bowls were filled with food which Bella and Beauty demolished with great speed and then they were back to their beds for a rest.
Tony phoned to say he was on his way and for Angela not to cook as they could go to the Chinese restaurant in West Street. Angela was beginning to worry about all the expense of late but Tony put her at ease telling her that the interest on his money was more than enough for the extras they were having.
Tony finally arrived home at 6-15pm and after hugs and kisses all round, including the dogs, quickly got washed and changed into casual clothes. Angela and the boys were all ready to go.
They decided to walk to the restaurant; neither boy had ever been to a Chinese restaurant although Jamie had eaten takeaway some times. When they walked inside they both gasped at the beautiful decor and how smart all the waiters were. The table they were given was a round one and was laid out with gleaming cutlery and glasses over a snow white tablecloth. The boys were treated like royalty by the waiters as they showed them to their seats. Unbeknown by the boys and Angela, Tony had telephoned the restaurant earlier in the day and asked the owner Mr Cheng if he could make the boys first experience memorable for them. Mr Cheng who had 2 children of his own around the same age, agreed to do that for them.
Angela looked at Tony and he smiled that smile that she was getting used to that said 'wait and see.' After they were all seated a waiter brought in Chinese tea, poured a bowl full for each person and watched the boys lost look.
"Where's the milk?" David asked.
"No milk sir." The waiter told him "Just drink as is." David carefully picked up the bowl in his fingers and took a sip. He wasn't sure of the taste but it was alright and said to Jamie. "Go on try it, it's not bad."
Jamie tried it and was surprised how clean it made his mouth feel.
"Your right David it tastes refreshing."
"Good you like." The waiter said and went off happy.
Tony then explained that the tea was drunk between each course to clean the taste of the previous course from the mouth and that the waiters would keep the pot full all the time they were there. Angela was really enjoying seeing both the boys' faces as they learned some of the ways of the east. It was a while before anything else was brought out and when it was it was only the finger bowls for cleaning fingers after some hand eaten dishes. As Tony expected Jamie bit and said. "The soup is watery dad." Davis giggled as he had guessed it wasn't soup and Tony went on to explain that it was for cleaning fingers.
Jamie blushed but David jumped in and said. "I thought it was thin as well." Tony thought that was a kindly act by David and winked at him across the table. Just then Mr Cheng came out from the kitchen which he oversaw with a passion.
"Good evening Mr Andrews, nice to see you again. I see you have nice family, you lucky man." I send my children to say hello after you finish dinner. Maybe boys like to share table and enjoy talk."
"That's a nice idea Mr Cheng they will do that and thank you. And pointed in turn, that is Jamie and his brother David is the other"
"Mrs Andrews, nice to see you first time, where you hide this lovely lady Mr Andrews?"
"I'm not Mrs Andrews yet Mr Cheng but soon we hope."
Turning to Tony he said. "You marry quickly before she finds a more handsome man, maybe me," a wicked grin on his face.
"Tony laughed and said. "Mr Cheng you are a wicked old man, what would your wife say?"
"She beat me with ladle," He said, just as the waiters brought out the starters of spare ribs.
"Ah, I leave you to eat. Hope enjoy." And with that he disappeared back into the kitchen.
For ease of eating for the boys the ribs had been brought out on individual plates rather than the normal communal dish. The family ate them with relish, especially the boys, never having tasted them before. The family finished the ribs, rinsed their fingers and drank some tea ready for the next course that was brought out. This was one of Agnes's favourites 'special fried rice,' a mixture of meats and spices with some vegetables in rice and fried together. Tony had been a bit naughty with this dish and so all the boys had to eat it with were chopsticks.
Tony could use them of course from his trips to the Far East on tours of duty. It was going to be part fun and part education for the boys who picked up the chopsticks and were completely lost as to how to use them. Then waiter hovered nearby knowing how difficult it was for the boys as they tried desperately to pick the food up. Tony nodded his head to the waiter who sat between them and showed them how to eat rice with chopsticks. He picked up a bowl and lifted it to his mouth and proceeded to use the chopsticks like a shovel pushing food directly into his mouth from the bowl. The boys looked at each other and they were off. "Dead easy," said Jamie through a partial mouthful. David nodded and then Tony and Angela started to eat themselves as rice flew everywhere out of the boys bowls. The waiter smiled kindly and told them to slow down a bit, which they did and the rice showers stopped to a trickle.
Tony hadn't ordered too many courses as a full meal could be as much as 15 courses or more. They just had one more dish before having a sweet. That was sweet and sour pork balls with plain rice. This time the boys had it sussed out and picked up the balls with some difficulty but scooped the rice as before.
The sweet wasn't Chinese it was American, 'knickerbocker glory'. Mr Cheng though made it his way with banana ice cream jam and real cream and fan wafers. The boys, although quite full by now licked their lips as the last of it left their plates.
At the end of the meal the tea was removed and hot face towels brought out to clean the faces. The boys let them cool down a bit as they were really very hot indeed.
A few other diners had arrived during the family's meal and were starting to get served under the watchful eye of Mr Cheng. He saw that the family had finished eating and came over to their table and asked if they had enjoyed the meal. They all said they had and the boys said it had been fun. Mr Cheng had brought his children down earlier and they sat at a spare table drinking cokes in glasses. He gave Tony and Angela coffees on the house and told the boys to follow him. As they approached the Cheng children stood up to greet their father. My Cheng introduced Jamie and David and then his children, first his daughter, 7 year old May and then 9 year old Daniel. They all said hello to each other and got talking together, May asked David and Jamie if they were twins, and Jamie answered and explained their relationship to each other. May seemed satisfied with his answer but Daniel wanted to know more, so David explained in a bit more depth. The youngsters got on famously and talk got around to school. Daniel told the boys that he had been at St Andrews school for four years now and May attended another private girls' school. Mr Cheng brought some cokes over for them, saw they were alright and went back to work
The children got back to talking about school and David and Jamie told Daniel that they were starting at St Andrews next term. Daniel thought they might be in the same class as he would be ten on September 1st.
Daniel said he hoped they would meet there anyway. They finished their cokes when Mr Cheng again came over telling David and Jamie that their parents were waiting for them to go home so they said goodbye to their new found friends and went back to Angela and Tony at the table. "Have fun boys?" Angela asked.
"Yes mum, Daniel, Mr Cheng's son goes to St Andrews as well. So there is someone else we'll know.
Tony half expected the wind to appear again but it didn't.
On the way out from the restaurant the boys thanked the waiters for their help and the whole family thanked Mr Cheng for a wonderful meal.
He bowed gently and said. "It was my pleasure, please all come back again before too long."
"We will," Tony said and they left for the walk back home.
David and Jamie said to both parents that that was the best fun they had had and could they go back again.
Angela and Tony looked at each other and Tony winked out of sight of the boys and said. "I don't know, what with you two throwing rice all over the place, and then trying to drink the finger bowl. I'll have to ask mum. What do you think mum?"
Angela tried not to laugh and said. "I don't know dad, after them flirting with that young Chinese girl as well."
"Mr Cheng said we were good." Jamie pouted.
At that point neither parent could keep a straight face and started laughing.
"Of course we will be going back. I knew Mr Cheng in Hong Kong before he came to England. If he says you were good, then you were."
The boys pretended to go for their dad but it was totally in play and they were laughing too much to even be partially serious.
The jocular atmosphere lasted all the way home with flying angels and swings between parents.
They got home late, the boys let the dogs out and back in for the night and were off to bed without asking. Tony and Angela kissed them good night.
After they were in bed Tony and Angela talked among themselves about the day. Tony relayed his day again and embellished it with some stuff he had left out before. One was that the Zulu team were getting more and more concerned about what was happening in Madrid with the two ex children's department bosses and their manager. It seems as if they are picking boys off the street and housing them in the house they had bought. The Zulu team were keeping a very close eye on events.
Angela wanted to know if he would be involved if the Zulu team were asked to act. Tony said he didn't know at this stage but it was possible. Angela was concerned but let it slide for the moment. She knew her man.
It got around to Angela's day along with drinking the cocoa. She told Tony about her mother's apparent miracle recovery. Tony reiterated his own thought that the wind was wrapped around the family and its future. Tony asked Angela to get the phone put on at the new house and he would put this house up for rent as from Monday next. And cancel the phone, electricity, gas and inform the council about the rates to be changed as from the same day. Tony suddenly thought how fortunate his life had turned out. Had it not been for the army would he be where he was today?
Finally the pair went up to bed calling in on the sleeping boys and reflecting on just how happy the family were.
End of part 11
There will be a short break in the story for a while I recharge the word bank.
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