The next day when Tony arrived for work there was a message from June Archer for him to call her. When she answered his call and greetings were exchanged she went on to tell him that the police had checked for the children's clothing and everything had been cut up, even the shoes, so nothing was of any use. They did have some funds to get some clothing but it would only be second hand. Tony thanked her and ended the call and went to see Bill.
He had just arrived when Tony reached his office.
"Good morning Bill. I have my first request for finance. The clothing of the two abandoned children has been rendered useless by their parents."
"I am so sorry Tony I didn't tell you. You have a budget of £500,000 for use in cases of hardship or emergency. That of course sounds a lot of cash but it doesn't stretch far. It is of course up to you what you spend it on and of course the board would prefer a surplus at the end of the year. This case however is a real emergency but I feel children's services should also chip in."
Tony explained June's limitations and suggested perhaps they could pool resources and each contribute so they could get new clothing. Bill agreed with that idea.
Tony thanked Bill and returned to his office via the ward where Adam and Julie were. He called in on the ward sister to get an update. The sister told him they were still hurting but improving, more importantly they were a lot happier. He asked sister to get the children's sizes for him so he could get them new clothes. He then thanked her and went into the ward to see the children. He found Adam and his sister playing I spy.
"Good morning Adam, good morning Julie. It is nice to see you happier today. I have a message from George and Gladys, they asked me to tell you they are coming to see you this afternoon with David and Jamie. Before that, sister will come and measure you for new clothes." (Tony had decided help or no help the children would not have hand me downs.)
"Thanks mis.. Err Tony. We are getting a bit bored."
Tony had to smile. Children were like that if not seriously ill.
"Well I am sure you won't be bored this afternoon with all those visitors. It is nice to see you more cheerful today though. I have to go. I might see you later. Bye for now."
"Bye Tony." They replied
Tony returned to his office and called June again and explained the idea about the clothes for Adam and June. She thought it was a wonderful idea and agreed to help fund new clothes. She also said that her application for an interview for the post of Director Children's services had been accepted and she had an initial interview on Monday week 13th August at 10-30am.
Tony congratulated her and wished her well for the interview and replaced the receiver.
His next appointment was with Primrose ward. The children there were sick, mostly with chest diseases. He had to steel himself for this visit he knew that seeing these suffering children would upset him. He arrived at the ward to find sister waiting for him.
He immediately felt some hostility towards him from the sour faced woman who faced him. He thought he would try and break the ice anyway and said.
"Good morning sister, what a lovely day, you look a bit troubled."
The reply was as sour as her face.
"Depends how you look at it. Mr Andrews isn't it?"
"It is indeed sister but I prefer Tony with my colleagues."
"Well Mr Andrews can we get this over with I am very busy."
Tony let it go for the moment and asked her to accompany him around the ward.
As he entered the ward he knew something was drastically wrong, the smell was awful. It didn't take long to realise that many of the children were lying on soiled bedding.
He turned angrily to the sister and told her very angrily that her ward was a total disgrace and why hadn't the bedding been changed.
She stuttered an answer that the nurses were an idle lot and so without warning Tony called a nurse over and asked her why the children's beds were in such a state.
The nurse, a young West Indian trainee said she spent all her time running around doing errands for the sister and not doing her real job.
The sister went red and then tried to change the fault back to the nurse again.
Tony was having none of it and went back to the sister's office and called Bill up to the ward. He arrived and when he saw and smelled the state of things he suspended the woman on the spot. Who turned round in a huff and Tony he was sure that he heard her say 'Bloody kids'. Bill then turned to the nurse and told her she would get extra help to get the ward up to scratch. You could see the relief on her face immediately as she told Bill she had been so scared of the sister.
He went and lifted the internal phone and called all around the wards. In ten minutes a small army of nurses from other wards were onboard and making all the children comfortable with clean bedding, bed baths and cleaning in the disgusting sluice area. Tony asked Bill how the ward could have become such a mess. Bill was apologetic as he explained that the sister was an agency staff nurse who was called in for emergency cover. They would not use her again nor the agency who employed her.
Tony finally calmed down and started the delayed visit to the children. The horrible smells had gone and he was able to have short but pleasant chats with them all. One child was unhappy that she had not seen her mum for 3 days. Later investigation found that her mother was also ill and had not been able to get in but would be later that day. He made sure the girl got the message and suddenly realised it was already 3pm and he hadn't had any lunch.
Bill popped his head in and said. "An interesting day Tony, we get hitches like that sometimes."
"I hope not too often Bill, I really felt for those children today."
Bill smiled and said. "That's why you have the job Tony. There are many people in posts within hospitals that are only interested in the power the job brings. By the way I saw your family up on Princess Ward with the two scalded children. It's a bit like a riot but it is wonderful to see them all having fun."
"I will nip up because I have to see sister about some clothes sizes. Did you manage to replace that sister?"
"Yes we have a bank of retired sisters who will fill in on a real emergency, so we have one of those until the regular sister returns. It's a good job you went up there this morning, we had a bad sister working here two years ago fortunately I did my rounds that day and saw her pulling a child by her hair. I swore it would never happen again but there will always be a bad apple somewhere."
"That is so true Bill, we had a few in the services, and fortunately they never got through the SAS selection process. Anyway duty calls, until later then Bill?"
On the ward three boys and one girl were sort of causing havoc. Paper aeroplanes were whizzing through the air. As soon as Tony appeared everyone stopped and greeted him. Tony asked where mum was and the boys told him she was still ferrying stuff from the old house to the new and she would be back about 4-30.
"Mum, dad do you fancy a coffee?" Tony said with a wink.
Feeling that he wanted to have a word away from the children they said yes.
"We'll bring you an ice cream each back children, please try not to wreck the ward before we get back."
In the canteen after they had sat down George started the conversation and spoke about all the children. He praised Jamie and David for their brilliant help in relaxing the two Smith children. It was a real pleasure to see them apparently having great fun. The Smith children, Adam and Julie changed from being frightened and inward to what they were now.
Tony agreed they looked so much better and hopefully their wounds would repair quickly and they could join George and Gladys at their home, where apparently Angela had told them they could live there as long as they liked.
Coffee finished, Tony got the ice creams and they all went back to the children where Tony handed out the ice creams to the delight of the children. The resultant silence was deafening while the cones were demolished in quick time.
Sister came in to look at the Smith children, put the screens round them and checked their dressings. All appeared well and she took the screens away again and continued her rounds. Had anyone of the family been behind the screen they, like the children and the sister felt the breeze that suddenly gently surrounded the children.
Later that evening back at their home in Brighton Angela had found the one letter from the second post delivery, a letter with her name on. She opened it and to her surprise it was an invitation for an interview for the post of Deputy Director Children's services. So as Tony and the children walked in the door she immediately showed it to Tony.
"That is great news love." Tony said. What date is the interview?"
"Wednesday 22nd of August at 10 o'clock, I had better get something nice to wear for it."
"Get whatever you need love and June Archer has her interview on the 20th at 10 o'clock for the Directors job. I will need Zulu to look into the other candidates; we don't want any more abusers in the job."
"So true but how on earth can they do that Tony?"
"They have their ways love; they can get the information from the top. Then they will likely inform the powers that be of the indiscretions with a subtle hint they are a no, no."
The discussion was interrupted by two hungry boys.
"Make a quick sandwich boys, dinner will be an hour yet."
"OK mum will do." David replied as he and his brother went to raid the fridge.
"We had an abandoned baby come in yesterday love but fortunately after TV and the papers appealing for the mother she came in and collected her. Sadly the girl is 15 and she thought her parents would hate her. Turns out though they are going to give full support and are proud to be grandparents at only 38 years old. I had to laugh as it is younger than us."
Angela put on a gait and an older voice and said. "Yes dear, too old at 45, it'll be a Zimmer next."
The boys just came back in and ended up pointing and laughing at Angela's antics.
Jamie said. "Mum you're not old at 45 grandma is old."
"Thank you darling, a lady likes to hear things like that. Well, this old lady had better get some dinner going or I will have three hungry males of the species feeding on me."
Tony with a twinkle in his eyes said. "That sounds a nice idea love," Followed up with "Grrrrr."
"Later, you sexy animal or you'll get no pudding." Angela hit back with a laugh.
The boys shrugged their shoulders and went out into the garden with the dogs.
The rest of the week seemed uneventful until Saturday arrived. The big move!
Everyone was up early with everything packed for the movers' arrival at 9am.
Spot on 9 they arrived with a small Luton van and proceeded to load up the smallish amount of stuff still to go. Mostly it was bedding, clothes and kitchen contents along with some small furniture items.
Once they were loaded Tony went around the small house checking that it was fit for a tenant that the estate agent had found to move in on Monday week the 13th. He thought 'Odd, same time as June's interview,' then dismissed it as a coincidence. Everything ready he left and locked the front door for the last time except when and if he ever visited his tenant. There it was, a new beginning, a new family, a nearly wife, two boys, two dogs, a new house, and a new job. Life was good at long last. He prayed silently that nothing would hurt it. As if on cue the wind swirled around the doorway and the calmness engulfed him again. He turned got into his car and drove off to the house on the hill.
By the time he got to the house the removal men were half finished their task. The boys were in their room setting up bedding and clothes helped by the dogs. Angela was overseeing the setting up of where the small items of furniture were to go plus emptying food boxes into cupboards.
Tony went over and hugged her and said. "How about going to a wedding on Saturday 9th of December love?"
"A wedding dear? Whose wedding would that be?"
"Ours my gorgeous one. Who else's"
Angela turned and looked at Tony who was smiling at her with his arms held wide.
She ran to him and said, "Oh Tony, what a wonderful idea and the date seems fine. The answer is yes, I would love to go to a wedding on December the ninth."
They held each other tightly for a while and Tony said, "St Peters Church ok with you lover."
"St Peters, that would be wonderful darling, it is a beautiful church and they have a small chapel."
With a big fat grin on his face Tony went on. "Consider it a date then my lovely, December 9th St Peters Church at 2-30 of the clock. I'll be there and waiting don't be late."
The boys came down to see if they could help mum and when she told them of the upcoming marriage they jumped around the kitchen shouting.
"Mum and dad's getting married, mum and dad's getting married, hooray, hooray, hooray."
Repeating it until Tony had to step between them and start a tickling session with them. Then they all got together for a family hug. The dogs not to be outdone got in on the act as well.
It had to happen. It came through the open kitchen door, swirled around the kitchen in a gentle warm breeze and was gone as fast as it came. All the family looked at each other with a knowing smile and hugged each other harder.
That evening after their first official meal Tony decided to have a run. The boys wanted to go along also with the dogs. Angela told them to go for it as she still had a bit to do in the house and she could go and leave a little food for the foxes. The boys wanted to do both but the run won the contest as they could see the foxes any time but a run with dad not so much.
They set off at a leisurely pace and surprisingly both boys kept up well and despite their age they didn't seem to flag at all. They got to three miles when Tony turned round to set off on the return. Tony asked if they were ok but amazingly they were fine. David told Tony that he and Jamie loved running and had hoped to run for the school at the new term. Now they were going to St Andrews they hoped they might get in the team there instead. Tony assured them that he would mention their ability to the sports master.
They set off back along the same path and noticed the darkening sky. Next a few drops of rain turned to a downpour. They sheltered a while under a tree as the rain stopped as quickly as it started. They had remained dry as the tree canopy had absorbed the rain. They arrived back and the dogs headed for their water bowls tongues lolling. Tony and the boys called for Angela as they raided the fridge for orange squash. There wasn't any reply so they guessed she was still with the foxes. A half hour later there was still no Angela so they decided to go and find her. As they neared the barn the sight before them was amazing. On the grass sat Angela and there all around her was the fox family. They stood stock still and watched in amazement, the fox cubs were playing with Angela as if she was a surrogate mum. Jamie turned and ran back home for his camera. He couldn't miss this. Angela never even noticed Tony and the boys standing watching. In no time Jamie was back and crept closer to get a better view. He managed to get quite close and started snapping away. He shot a whole roll of film, 36 pictures, before backing off to where Tony and David stood.
Angela looked at her watch and saw the time. Quickly without scaring the foxes she stood up and walked away leaving them to stare after her. It was then she saw the family and waved. When she got to them she explained what had happened. She had brought the food and when she put it down on the ground the adult foxes had come up to her and brushed her leg. It seemed as if they called their cubs from the back of the Landrover and they jumped out the back and surrounded her. That was the start of a great adventure for her and time just flew by. Jamie told her about his roll of film and Angela promised to get it developed and printed for him.
They all headed back home where Tony and the boys showered the boys in their ensuite and Tony in his and Angela's. As he stepped in the shower he thought to himself. 'This is bliss, no queue for a shower," and the boys shower is ample for the 2 of them together.
Refreshed he changed into something light and casual and returned downstairs. The boys never reappeared so Angela guessed that they had retired after a very energetic day. Sure enough as they looked in later both boys were fast asleep looking so peaceful with the dogs at the foot of the beds both with one protective eye open but managing a wag of tails.
Angela was asleep at 2am when Tony went downstairs and made a phone call. At the other end Zulu 1 listened and just said 'roger' and put the receiver down at the same time as Tony. That done he returned to bed and back to sleep.
Come Sunday morning the weather had changed and it was a wet start to the day with a chance on sun in the afternoon. Rain at the top of the Downs often means mist as well and sure enough there was.
The boys did the dog chores before breakfast and after Angela suggested they all go to church. David had never been and Jamie not for a while Tony given the choice, rarely. Then he remembered the experience in the hospital chapel and enthusiasm for the idea grew. He looked at a local map and found a small church about 2 miles away in the local village.
They arrived at the church Saint Andrews, with ten minutes to spare. Tony smiled at the coincidence of name and parked up in the road outside, they strolled through the clearing rain, up the path through the small cemetery to the church entrance to be met by the vicar who introduced himself as Robert Aubrey. Tony introduced the family, the vicar welcoming and shaking hands with them all. Then they went in and found a pew for them all and sat down.
Angela looked around the small but beautiful church taking in the fantastic old carvings.
She whispered to Tony. "Forget St Peters, can we get married here love
Tony smiled at her and then said. "A woman's prerogative to change her mind love, I was thinking the same. It is so beautiful and of course the name has a certain ring to it."
"We can see the vicar after the service Tony, no time like the present."
Jamie had heard what they were whispering and passed it on to David. They smiled to each other and crossed their fingers.
It turned out to be an excellent service with the vicar turning out to be a bit of a comedian. The congregation was relaxed and happy, not like some churches that seemed to dare you to move. The short sermon appealed to the family as well, calling on the congregation to remember the poor of the area. (It turned out later that the vicar spent an awful lot of time among just those people.)
After the service the vicar was again at the door of the church to bid farewell to his flock. He made a point of talking to the family, asking who they and were they where they were from. Tony explained the new family to the vicar and when he asked him if he could marry himself and Angela on the 9th of December he was delighted. Could they visit the next evening to give the details and to post banns?
That agreed the family went home to be greeted by two happy dogs and two foxes, the dogs being on the inside of the house and the foxes on the outside. The dogs went to the boys and the foxes to Angela and Tony. The dogs were easy to sort out as they dashed to the trees and had pees. The foxes however, they obviously were looking for food to feed their young. It was David that solved the problem reminding Angela about the old hambone in the fridge. Angela let him get it and the foxes happily accepted it from David and shot off like rockets back to their cubs. Jamie was thinking and then remembered something he had read.
"Mum, foxes can eat dog food so we can leave them some out every day."
"What a lovely idea Jamie, I can get some tomorrow while we are in Brighton."
"Yes mum and there is a cheap fishy one we can get." Davey said. "That way it won't cost too much."
Tony then said. "That reminds me to call Bert about the land rover. I'll do it now so I don't forget. He went inside and called Bert who was just about to go out and asked him what to do about the land rover. Bert told him that although it still worked the battery was flat and it needed some attention. He had left it because foxes had made it their home some years before. Tony explained they were still there and Bert had to laugh that they were up to their old tricks of begging food. Bert told Tony that the foxes den was included in the price and not to worry. He added that he and his wife were off to Australia in a week and wished Tony and the family well. Tony relied in the same vain and hung up the receiver.
When Tony told Angela and the boys what Bert had said, they all had a good laugh.
The sun finally came out and the boys asked if they could ride their bikes. Tony looked at Angela and vice versa until both said as one. "Yes but be careful and watch for horse riders."
The boys dashed for the utility room where their bikes were stored and were off on an adventure, the first of many.
Tony took Angela's hand and said. "We are so lucky love to have two boys who get so well together. I notice we have a little time to ourselves wench, what pray do you suggest."
"I was thinking exactly the same my lover, might I be as bold as to suggest I check your body to see if I still like it.
"We could both do the same kind lady let's go and see how far we can get."
Two hours later two young boys arrived home hungry and exhausted from their long ride looking for food and drink were greeted at the door by both parents who looked on top of the world.
"So did you boys enjoy yourselves?" Tony asked.
Jamie looked at David and said. "Yes dad we did, it was great, we saw so many different animals and birds, oh and we saw a kestrel high up in the sky and it swooped down in a fast dive."
"And we saw some boys kite flying on top of one of the hills." David responded.
"It sounds as if you two had great fun but for now put your bikes away and come in for dinner. Mum and I waited for you before we started and don't forget to wash face and hands please."
Angela was more than relieved to see them back home though, the concern showing on her face.
Tony seeing it said. "They will be fine they need the room to grow up slowly, to find security in each other. That trip was a start on the road love."
Angela accepted that but she would still worry when they were out on their own. That is what mums do.
Lunch was a delicious roast with all the trimmings, the first time Angela had been able to cook one since they all got together. The boys emptied their plates and looked longingly at Angela. She in turn just smiled at them in return, teasing them. Finally she gave in and told them there was bread and butter pudding to come.
Jamie got up to help her while David cleared the plates away. When he came back he asked Tony if he could draw the foxes tomorrow. Tony told him that of course he could and that it was a good idea and what had Jamie planned to do.
"I think he wants to build a big mecchano structure, some project he wants to do."
"It seems to me David that you are the arty one and Jamie the mechanic."
"That's true dad, Jamie can't draw and I can't build."
"Each to their own son, don't struggle to do what you're not designed for, your skills are unique and so are Jamie's. I look forward to seeing both results tomorrow night when I get home."
Angela and Jamie brought in the steaming hot pudding already in individual plates, a lovely mixture of fruit bread and custard. They put the plates round and while Tony and Angela slowly ate theirs, the boys vacuumed it up. Tony and Angela were left convinced that the near twin relationship of the boys was correct as they both at the same time burped and said sorry.
After washing up and clearing up they all sat around with David in Angela's knees and Jamie on Tony's.
Tony was just about to doze off when the phone rang in the hallway. David leaped up to answer it before Jamie. It turned out to be a call for Tony. It was from dad and mum who were calling to say that the Smith children had improved by so much that they could be released tomorrow morning and could Tony supply some transport?
Tony asked what the dressing's routine was for Adam and Julie and could they spend a day at the house on the hill with the boys and themselves. Dad jumped at the chance and said he and mum would bring food over for all of them. The dressings would be changed once every other day so not a problem. That fitted in well as Angela had to go into Brighton in the morning. Tony said he would be in the hospital at 9 o'clock as usual.
Dad hung up with further thanks and Tony went to give the news to Angela and the boys. That made her happy as she need not worry about the boys, and the boys were happy as Adam was good at meccano and Julie good with art.
After a rest it was all out for a nice long walk in the evening sunshine. Tony got the local ordinance survey map out and made a route around the area using footpaths. It turned out to be a most beautiful walk giving lovely views of Brighton and the Downs. The footpaths also brought a silence and calm not found in towns and little was said en route.
The walk turned out to be six miles with a gentle breeze keeping them cool and by the time they all got back it was gone 7pm. Angela decided she wanted to see the foxes and no vote was needed to decide that they would all go. Before they went the boys opened a tin of dog food and put it into a bowl. The family met family head on with the fox family, once the food was placed down for them, ignoring their human friends until it was all consumed. Something that was remarkable was to see both dogs sitting on their haunches watching their distant cousins eating.
After the foxes had had their fill then the fun started with the cubs chasing each other around the parents trying to bite each others' tails.
David, while he enjoyed watching the fox family, was also putting into his mind the picture he wanted to paint tomorrow.
The family were entertained for some time until the cubs started to tire and leaped up into the back of the land rover to be watched over by their parents for the night.
David picked up the empty bowl and along with Jamie and their parents took the short walk back to the house. Back indoors David washed the bowl and then went to get his sketch pad and made a rough sketch of his task the next day. Large yawns decided the boys to go up to bed after some hot chocolate. They spent a short time chatting about their day but were soon fast asleep. Tony heard the scream and dashed upstairs.
End of part 13
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