Tuesday was a busy day for the entire house. The boys were told of the plan, the builders arrived and set to work, Tony went off to work and the boys set up their projects again. Except this time, David had the photo that Jamie had given him the night before. Angela again went to pick up the parents and children to bring them up to the house.
The boys left alone, beavered away at their given projects. The bridge got more elaborate and David's picture for Jamie started to take form. Working outside was so much better than indoors. The time reached 10-30 and Angela arrived with Grandparents, Adam and Julie. Angela arranged some refreshments and asked David to pop over to where the workmen were and see if they would like a drink. When David got to the barn two men were digging away inside the old barn removing soil. Where the floor had been there was now a hole about a foot deep. David shouted to the men and asked if they would like some tea. Both said "yes please, two sugars in each. David then ran back to Angela and gave her the message.
When the tea was made David elected to take the tea to the men but two mugs was a bit too much so Jamie helped. The men took the tea and Jamie asked what they were doing. One of the men picked Jamie up and took him into the barn and explained what they were doing. He explained that at the moment, the barn wasn't high enough to have two floors so they were digging out a foot of soil. Then they would lay a waterproof cover over the floor and walls of the part they had dug out and put down a layer of concrete. That would make the barn a foot taller so that it was big enough. David was interested but Jamie was really interested and wanted to know more. David walked back leaving Jamie with the workmen. He told Angela that the men were explaining what they were doing.
Angela called Jamie for his tea and he came back and told Angela what he had been told. "The builder is coming soon with the plans Jamie you will be able to see what is going to be done. Then you can explain to grandma."
"Really mum, I would love to do that."
David, though interested, was looking forward more on how the barn would look when finished. He thought that perhaps Adam would be interested also and mentioned it. Adam said he would love to have a look at the plans with Jamie as he liked seeing what they meant.
As if on cue the builder arrived with the plans. Angela explained what was going on and he was more than pleased to explain everything to the boys. He laid the plans out on a picnic table and started to go over the plans. For an hour he explained every detail of what was to be done, answering all their questions with patience. Jamie and Adam were enthralled taking in all they were told. From explaining the plans the builder took them to the barn itself and re-explained what he had told them showing them where in the barn certain things would be. What he did say that was very important was that the boys must not go near the site when there wasn't anyone there as all building sites are very dangerous. The boys promised they wouldn't and hurried back to tell everyone who would listen to what was going to happen. They made an excellent job of it and grandma said she could picture everything they had told her.
The adults needed to talk so the children went back to the projects, Jamie and Adam to the Meccano and David and Julie to David's picture. Julie loved the picture and asked David if he was going to paint it.
"I am Julie See it is this photograph Jamie took of the fox family. I am doing it for Jamie."
"You're ever so clever David. Can I do some drawing please?"
"Of course you can Julie. Here, I'll give you a pad and pencil. Why don't you try and draw the barn. Don't rush just take your time."
Julie took the pencil and pad and went closer to the barn and sat down and started to draw. David continued what he was doing and forgot all about Julie while he painted over the drawing. After an hour he felt like a break and remembering Julie he went over to see how she was doing. He noticed Jamie and Adam working away at the bridge, heads together like two old professors. He reached where Julie sat and looked over her shoulder. He gasped when he saw her drawing. It was far from finished but the detail and proportions were near perfect. He said nothing but backed away. He went over to where the adults sat. The serious discussion was over and he caught grandma's attention indicating she should follow him. She got up and holding his hand went to where Julie sat. David indicated to the drawing. Grandma's eyes went wide as she saw what Julie was doing. David indicated her to be quiet and they left the young girl to her art. When they got back to the table Grandma told the others what she had just seen and they wanted to look as well but grandma would not let them in case they disturbed Julie in her work.
During the morning more machinery arrived at the barn ready to start more work the next day. Tony turned up at lunchtime to see everyone including the builder. He took the chance to have a look at what the boys were doing and when he got to David his son whispered. "Dad come and see what Julie is doing."
So, ever so quietly they went and stood behind her. She didn't hear them because she was totally engrossed in the picture of the barn she was doing. Tony looked and couldn't believe what he was seeing. Since David had last looked Julie had filled in more detail. The picture wasn't perfect but was nonetheless a fabulous piece of work.
They tiptoed away again and back at David's workstation Tony said. 1 will get her a good quality drawing and painting kit today."
"Thanks dad, I thought you would when you saw how good she is. She just said she liked drawing and I thought it would be like kids scribble that most seven year olds do."
'Your painting is coming along as well David. Jamie will love that when it is finished. Have you seen how his bridge project is getting on?"
No Dad, I haven't been over but they have been very busy all morning. Adam is helping him."
Tony laughed and said. "Looks like we have two artists and two engineers in the family then?"
David looked puzzled and then the penny dropped. "Yes dad but that's a long way off."
Tony smiled and thought of his own childhood and said. "Not so long David. Time soon passes and you will be all grown up before you know it."
"Maybe dad but at least thanks to you I will have a childhood." Then turned and gave his dad a hug.
'We still have a way to go David but we will get there."
"Thanks dad I will try to be good."
Tony returned to his office where he found a message to phone his solicitor. He gave him the call back and the news he was given was excellent. The two houses has now been processed and given anonymously to the Brighton children's department with effect to following Monday. Tony thanked his for his hard work and dropped the receiver in its cradle. That was good. They would now have two more homes for children in the Town.
He had had one or two requests for money to help out poor families and had been able to help them with clothes and money for food for a while. He was about to go for a coffee break when his phone rang again. He lifted the handset and said hello. The voice on the other end was one he knew. It asked if he had a separate fax number and Tony replied yes and gave the number. The line went dead and Tony put the phone down and waited for the fax. It came
through and took five minutes to print It gave all the details about the applicants for the two vacant posts for director and deputy of the children's services.
Tony looked at the list for both posts. Of course they contained the names of Angela and June. No problem with those two. There were only three other names with the all clear on the combined lists. The remainder, seven in all, left a lot to be desired. All of them for some reason or other had been sacked for misconduct or suspicion of same. Tony put a red circle round those names and faxed them to another fax number. Ten minutes later he received a phone call, all the caller said was, 'wilco.' (Army speak for will comply) Tony then put down the phone knowing that certain applicants would withdraw their applications very soon.
Tony breathed a sigh of relief. Two big problems had been sorted out. 'Time for that coffee' he thought and nipped up the stairs to the canteen. He had just sat down when one of the ward sisters approached him and asked if she could talk to him. He pointed to the seat across from him and he sat down Ben Kip-Kip was a male black sister originally from Kenya. He was full of fun and a real hit with children of all ages. Tony didn't know him well but had heard nothing but A+ reports on him.
Ben Spoke. "Tony, I have a boy in the ward that gets no visitors at all. Apparently he is an only child, left alone a lot and fends for himself quite a bit at home. He only has a mother who works all hours to keep him, and she keeps him well. Good clothes, good food and regular to school. The problem is to achieve that, she is working two jobs and a total of sixteen hours a day. She looks ill Tony, worn out and in need of a holiday. Is there any way you can help?"
"There is a fund with money available for just that purpose Ben. It pays for a stressed parent to have a break at the coast, Eastbourne from here I think, where she can go and get herself back together. Additionally we have contacts to get her extra money to help her with the boy."
"That sounds good Tony but what happens to the boy while she is away?"
"Normally he would go into short term foster care for the two weeks. Would she allow that?"
Ben laughed. She might if it was me Tony."
"We might have problems Ben because you are black."
Ben didn't bat an eye and said. "I didn't tell you but mother and child are black too. She and her ex are also from Kenya." Then he and Tony laughed together.
"God Ben, it is so easy to make assumptions in this world isn't it. I do apologise to
"No need Tony, you weren't to know."
"So would you like to me to go and speak to this lady or will you do it. We'll have to pass it by June as well."
"I will talk to her Tony I have got to know her quite well since young Abraham came in to the hospital. He has a broken leg but is on the mend now. He is a lovely boy, only eight but as bright as a button."
"OK Ben I will leave it with you. If she and June are happy the let me know and I will make the arrangements for Mrs. Err, what is her name?"
"Oh, it's Mrs. Abasi." Tony wrote the name down.
"I'll get back to the ward Tony I'll let you know how it goes."
"Fine Ben I'll see you soon." He finished his coffee and went up to bluebell ward to see another male sister Simon Ellis. He was 38 and an ex navy nurse who had done 20 years in the navy all over the world. He had been offered higher rank during his
- service but he didn't want to become an officer. He had retired as a CPO, (Chief
Petty Officer) and was well loved throughout the Hospital. As soon as he saw Tony he came across to him and they shook hands.
"How's the old brown job then Tony?" (Term for army personnel)
"Same as a certain old blue job (term for navy) Simon I hope, full of the joys of summer. How is John?"
John was Simon's partner and they had a house in Falmer a small village north of where Tony lived.
"He's fine Tony, thanks for asking. He is still busy selling antiques in the shop in the Lanes. He is doing well though. Keeps me in the manner to which I am accustomed.
"Glad to hear it Simon. Now, what I called for is to see if there are any problems in the ward and to do my weekly check for Bill."
"Of course Tony, come on we'll have a walk round. We have one problem child, came in yesterday. Doc says he thinks he has been abused. His rectum was red raw when he came in with bowel problems. Doc broke the blockage down and gave the lad an enema to clear him out and wants to keep an eye on him. He wants a councillor to have a session with him. His name is Gordon Anderson, 14 years old and a very withdrawn lad for that age. He spends a lot of time on his own and not mixing with the others at all."
"Doesn't sound too good Simon, Can I chat to him?"
"You can try Tony but he is quite withdrawn. I will take you to him on the way round."
As usual Simon's ward was immaculate but, it was also had a lovely friendly atmosphere to boot. All the children waved and said hello to both men, until that was,
they came up to Gordon. Tony then saw what Simon meant when he said withdrawn. He sat looking at them with a blank look on his face as if looking through them.
Tony was disturbed by this and when they had got a decent distance from the boy Tony spoke.
"That boy has a serious problem. I bet you had lads like him, a bit older true, but lost, not of this planet."
"Sure I did Tony and that boy's troubled."
"I have an idea Simon; I won't try and talk to him. My boys helped a couple of children break their silence and there is nothing like child to child talk to get a youngster to open up. Are you game? Adam is one of those children, he is l 3 and was badly bullied by his father and mother. I think he might just be able to get Gordon to open up."
Nothing ventured, nothing gained Tony. I am willing if you are but I don't want your lad hurt by it."
"I will have a good chat to him first Simon. If he is willing I will bring him in with me tomorrow. Now, are there any other problems?"
Simon laughed and said. "Yes my feet hurt but my shift is nearly over."
Tony left Simon to his work and went back to his office and made a note to speak with Adam when he got home. He opened the Argos paper and saw that 'Glyndbourne' (A countryside opera house in East Sussex) was putting on Aida an opera by Verdi full of great music and choruses. He picked up the phone and called Angela. He put forward his plan for a family outing and picnic on the lawns of Glyndbourne before the performance. Angela screamed and immediately told him to book it. She knew Jamie and her parents loved the particular opera because they had watched it on VHS. Tony put down the phone and then called Glyndbourne direct bookings. Tickets were already in hard to get. The popularity of Glyndbourne was such that tickets sold very fast. Tony managed to get some good seats together for eight for the following Monday night's performance at 8 pm. Tony gave his credit card number and arranged to pick the tickets up on the night. More than satisfied he then looked at his watch. He saw it was just past six o'clock already so closed up shop and went home.
Angela gathered everyone around and told them of Ton's call about going to the opera. Five people were enthusiastic but Davis, Adam and Julie not so. They wanted to know what it was all about. That was when Jamie came into his own as he explained the opera to them. They were still not overly enthused but with the thought of a picnic they were nullified.
Tony arrived home at a little after six thirty to hugs and kisses all round. Angela asked him how his day had been and he ran through it with her. George and Gladys were staying for dinner so they could discuss at length the move from Brighton to the house on the hill. David, clever clogs that he was stated it would be 'The barn on the hill'. That caused a bit of a laugh from everyone. The builder approached the gathering and said he would be pouring the new floor in the morning and once it had set they would be full steam ahead. The drainage was already in place and they would run the electricity across in the morning as well. He asked Gladys if she wanted to cook on gas or electric. Gladys wanted gas so the builder explained it would be 'Calor' gas using red gas cylinders because there weren't any mains gas in the area to lock into. Gladys had seen the system before so was happy for that to be installed. He then ran over the plans with everyone looking on and George was more than happy to accept. Adam and Julie looked on not quite understanding what was going on but Jamie explained it all later in a more understandable way.
The builder left the family to talk it all over. Tony told George to go with Angela in the morning to his dealer and get a decent sized run around for them to use. George agreed with the idea and made arrangements for Angela to pick them up in the morning at ten o'clock. Of course Jamie and David wanted to go as well. It would be one heck of a squeeze but nothing would dissuade them.
After dinner Tony called Adam to one side and asked him if he would try to help the boy. Adam thought about it and then agreed. Tony asked about Thursday morning. He could go into work with Him and he would introduce him to Simon. That arranged Tony made a mental note and joined the others as Angela helped her parents to get in her car with Adam and Julie to take them back home. Tony wanted to see what the boys had done on their projects through the afternoon. David had almost finished the painting from the picture of the fox family and it was looking really .good. Tony praised him and then looked at the bridge. What had been done was amazing. The span of the bridge was completed but Jamie said he stuck now as they had run out of fittings. Tony promised to get some more the next day and asked David if there was anything he needed. He answered that he didn't but reminded His dad about the stuff for Julie.
Later on Angela returned and mad some cocoa for them all. The boys started yawning and were ready for bed and said goodnight. Upstairs they started talking.
"I hope that Adam and Julie like it up here. They are from the other side of Brighton by the racetrack." David said.
"I am sure they will because over that side there is quite a bit of countryside around there once off the estate. They seem very happy visiting. Granddad and grandma can't wait to move. I suppose because it is nice and quiet up here."
"Did you feed the foxes Jamie, I forgot."
"So did I but mum said she would feed them with dad, I mean not feed them 'with dad' but both of them will take food to the foxes."
David laughed at the vision of dad being fed to the fox family. "Shall we cook breakfast in the morning Jamie?"
"What a good idea David, we could try scrambled egg, I read it up in mum's cookbook."
"Yep, I'm game. My mum used to cook that with a steamer pan. That's a pan with hot water in and the eggs go on top of it."
"I saw that in mum's book. She has one of those. Get up early then David." "OK Jamie. Good night."
"Good night David."
Tony and Angela gathered up the foxes can of dinner already opened and walked up to the small barn and went in. The foxes were missing so they left the food and went on to the big barn to see how things looked. The floor was much deeper than the morning with a massive sheet of what looked like polythene sheeting over it and the old windows were gone leaving holes where they were before. There wasn't a lot to see so they headed back to the house stopping on the way to have a private kiss or two.
The boys were up early the next morning they let the dogs out and made the tea, went out and cleaned up after their pets and sat down in the kitchen with the tea. Jamie got the book out with the recipe in for scrambled eggs. They both studied it for some time making sure they had the method worked out. They got out the steamer pot and half filled it with water, then the pan that would hold the eggs. Carefully following the instructions the broke the eggs into the top pan added milk, salt and then beat them all together with a whisk. As the lower pan heated up it transferred the heat to the second pan and after a while, while being stirred, the eggs started to solidify and scramble. As soon as they looked and felt right they removed the top pan and turned out the gas. David made the toast and poured the tea. When the breakfast was complete they took it up to their parents. They knocked on the door and Angela's voice said. "Come in, I'm decent." The boys went in carefully placing the trays on the bed.
"Scrambled eggs for breakfast mum." They announced proudly.
"Oh my boys, that looks and smells delicious." Nudging Tony she said. "Breakfast Tony, the boys made it for us, scrambled eggs, Hurry up they look lovely."
Tony was wide awake in seconds and thanked the boys for the breakfast. The boys left them to it and went down stairs to have some cereal. Not fancying a cooked breakfast after all the previous hard work.
25 minutes later Tony and Angela came down with the trays and put them on the table.
"Jamie, David that was a lovely meal. The eggs were just perfect and so was the toast. You made dad and my day."
The boys beamed with delight. A lesson learned. Take your time.
Tony then brought up that the boys should have some pocket money each week and starling in Friday they would get œ2-00 each, so would Adam and Julie. They were expected to save œ1-00 of it per week and Tony would match it with another œl -00.
That made the boys day for them and they went and hugged both parents and thanked them.
As it was still early the boys went with their dogs down to where the foxes were. When they got there the food was all gone but the foxes were missing. Puzzled the boys looked for them but could find no sign of them. Beauty looked at Jamie and wagged her tail, barked and walked away. She did this three times. David thought she wants us to follow her and told Jamie. They followed her to a hedge 200 yards away and found the fox family romping about. They saw the boys and came running. That cheered the boys up. They stayed with the foxes for a while and then went back to the Land rover to get the dish.
Back home they told their parents about the foxes move. Suddenly Tony realised.
"It is the workman around the bid barn. They didn't like it and moved. Did they seem alright where they were boys?"
Jamie answered and said. "Yes dad, they had found a burrow under a hedge. It was Beauty that found them."
"That is one clever dog Jamie." Tony said as he patted Beauty's head.
Time seems to fly in the mornings and tony had to head off to work. As soon as he arrived he phoned his car dealer to arrange for the families visit later. Then he called Simon on his ward to see what progress there was on Gordon. Gordon seemed a bit happier and had eaten breakfast. Tony filled Simon in on the proposed visit by Adam.
He then called Ben and asked about young Abraham. He told Tony that the lad's mother had agreed for Ben to care for him while she had a break. Tony said he would contact June to arrange temporary foster father status for Ben and he would get her to contact him. As soon as that was done he would arrange for Abraham's
mother to go to the convalescent home. Ben thanked him and next on the list was June.
When she answered she sounded a bit strange. Tony asked if she was alright and she then told him. The Children's services committee chairman had just phoned her not to bother with coming for interview as she had been appointed to the post of Director. Apparently most of the candidates had withdrawn their applications and the others were too young for the post and, more to the point who would she prefer as her deputy. "Tony, it looks as if Angela might be getting a letter very soon. I can't be certain but I put her name forward and he seemed in agreement with me.
Tony was taken aback by what she said and congratulated her on the appointment. He was certain that she would make a big difference. He then told her about Ben and the Abisi family problem. June said the temporary order would be in the post later. He then told her about the suspected abuse case and what he hoped to achieve. June gave her blessing and asked to be updated. June continued.
"In addition to that I was told we have two houses given to us to use as children's family units with a house mother and house father. And that we would receive them next Monday. I have the children but no house parents. Any ideas Tony?"
"Leave it with me June, I have an idea. I will get back to you by the week-end, again, congratulations."
Tony had to talk face to face with Simon on his idea. He left his office and went to Simon's ward. He was a bit busy but stopped what he was doing to speak to Tony.
"I think your office Simon. What I have to talk about is confidential."
Simon was a bit worried then. 'In the office' usually meant trouble but as the door closed Tony smiled and explained his idea.*
End of part 15
Please let me know your thoughts on the story.
*My thanks to Ted for his patience and to Bob, my editor for his great input.*