Beyond the Sphere

Characters Calling: Lady Salinger-Wallis

Erm… sorry about this.

Originally posted on June 25th 2011:

Lady Salinger-Wallis squealed with delight as she slipped down the artificial ski-slope. She wasn’t standing; she had fallen at the top of the slope trying to attach one of her skis which had become detached from her left foot as she was about to ski for the very first time. She slid head first, from top to bottom, and laughed all the way down.
At the bottom, she stood up, took off the other ski, dusted herself down, and declared to the couple of complete strangers who were milling around, “I think that’s enough skiing for this lifetime!” and hobbled over to the cafe for a hot chocolate. She’d banged her knee in the fall, but the ache had only just been realised.

Still laughing, she ordered her coffee (in the walk, she had changed her mind about the chocolate) and sat in a large leather sofa that looked out onto the slope. A low table was in front of her, and the waitress placed her coffee down on the table.

“Would you like anything else?” the waitress asked, with a kind smile.

“No thank you,” Lady Salinger-Wallis returned the smile, and raised the cup. She burned her lip on the blisteringly hot coffee, and gave out a quick “Ooh”. She laughed again. “I don’t suppose you have any painkillers, dear?” she joked, and tried to take another sip. And she burned her lip again. She rolled her eyes and the waitress returned to her counter.

Edward Hamilton rushed passed the viewing area, and saw Lady Salinger-Wallis dabbing her lip. She tilted her head to one side, and waved with the hand she was using. Edward walked into the coffee shop, and sat on the chair that was next to the sofa the Lady was using.

“Oh, sit here!” Lady Salinger-Wallis patted the empty space beside her, “I won’t bite.” She laughed once more. Lady S loved to laugh.

“Are you alright?” Edward asked, with grave concern. “I saw you fall at the top and couldn’t believe how you fell all of the way down.”

“I’m fine” Lady S replied. “I have a bruised knee. I never realised skiing was so much fun!”

“Maybe I should have suggested something else for today ma’am,” Edward was Lady Salinger-Wallis’ chauffeur, and was slightly concerned for his job. “Maybe someone of your age should have…” He realised he was speaking without thinking, and decided to say no more.

“Nonsense!” Lady S finally had a sip of her coffee. “I asked you to suggest something different for today, and you did. And, I’m only fifty, young man.” She never missed anything.

She delved into her shoulder bag to take out her mirror. When she saw her reflection, she roared with laughter once again. “Look at my hair – it’s all over the place!” Edward noticed that it wasn’t. Lady S noticed the waitress over her shoulder in the reflection in her mirror. Behind the counter, the waitress was standing still, staring, as though she was in a trance.

“Eddie,” Lady S looked at her receipt for her coffee, “Go and get yourself a coffee from Clancy over there, and stop worrying. Today is my birthday. Let’s have some fun!”

Who is Clancy Farquhar?

Claudette looked at her watch and tutted. Her bus was due fourteen minutes ago. The journey takes twenty-five minutes to get her to the town centre, and then she has another five minute walk to the surgery. By her reckoning, she was now forty minutes late for work.

As she worked flexible hours, this wasn’t such a problem, although she was the only receptionist working today, and needed to be at the surgery in time for the first appointment. Wednesdays were usually quieter for some reason, but there was always a rush first thing. Owen, the dentist, hated the fact that the receptionists worked flexible hours, and today would have given him an ideal reason to change the working arrangements. It was his surgery, and he had the final say in things. All three receptionists were surprised when he agreed that they could work flexible hours, but he did stress that he needed the early mornings, and evenings covered.

Today, the plan was for Claudette to cover the other two, work longer hours in fact, and through her lunch, and then the others would do the same for her. A way of them getting some extra time off.

Today, things weren’t going according to the plan.

Claudette looked at her watch, and tutted again. The bus was nowhere in site, and the electronic signpost above the seat where she was sitting read ‘Due 15 minutes ago’, and once more Claudette tutted.

She glanced over the road, and saw one of her neighbours approaching. Claudette smiled, and said “Morning, Dan”, with the friendliest voice she could muster. She was in no mood for being friendly this morning.

Dan Abernathy was aware of Claudette’s grumpy nature, and paid no attention to her tone. He smiled, and said “Morning, Claudette. Are the buses running late again?”

Claudette tutted.

“There’s some kind of hold-up on the High Street,” Dan announced. “Roadworks or something”

It was the ‘or something’ that made Claudette smile. Internally. She knew what the ‘or something’ was. It was her bus, broken down. The one she’d missed by mere seconds earlier this morning. The one that had sped away, and left her breathless at the bus stop. She smiled at her imaginary revenge. The fact that the High Street was before the bus stop on this route, so the bus she’d missed would have gone in the opposite direction didn’t register with her. Well, until she realised how she was thinking, anyway. Then she tutted once more.

Dan stood beside Claudette at the bus stop. He was still smiling. He enjoyed the mornings, whereas Claudette didn’t. Dan’s cheerfulness made Claudette feel even more grumpy.

The sign on the bus stop now showed that the bus was due 16 minutes ago. Claudette looked at her watch again, but before she could tut, a car horn sounded on the other side of the road. It was another of Dan’s and Claudette’s neighbours. Abigail Odonwe, who also happened to be a partner in Owen’s dental surgery. She was running late too, and offered both Dan and Claudette a lift into the town centre.

They both accepted, and settled into their seats just as the bus made it’s way around the corner, with a second bus behind it. Claudette tutted once more. She said, quite loudly, “Typical.” Although she wasn’t thinking about the irony of two buses and her lift turning up at that precise moment. She was thinking about the day she had in store for her at work. The surgery manager would not be pleased that there was no receptionist or second dentist in for the morning rush. The patients wouldn’t be too pleased they had to wait later than their appointment times.And Claudette realised that they had to go a little further out of their way to drop off Dan on the other side of town.

Claudette decided there and then that today was not going to be a day for pleasantries.

Who is Clancy Farquhar?

Lady Salinger-Wallis squealed with delight as she slipped down the artificial ski-slope. She wasn’t standing; she had fallen at the top of the slope trying to attach one of her skis which had become detached from her left foot as she was about to ski for the very first time. She slid head first, from top to bottom, and laughed all the way down.
At the bottom, she stood up, took off the other ski, dusted herself down, and declared to the couple of complete strangers who were milling around, “I think that’s enough skiing for this lifetime!” and hobbled over to the cafe for a hot chocolate. She’d banged her knee in the fall, but the ache had only just been realised.

Still laughing, she ordered her coffee (in the walk, she had changed her mind about the chocolate) and sat in a large leather sofa that looked out onto the slope. A low table was in front of her, and the waitress placed her coffee down on the table.

“Would you like anything else?” the waitress asked, with a kind smile.

“No thank you,” Lady Salinger-Wallis returned the smile, and raised the cup. She burned her lip on the blisteringly hot coffee, and gave out a quick “Ooh”. She laughed again. “I don’t suppose you have any painkillers, dear?” she joked, and tried to take another sip. And she burned her lip again. She rolled her eyes and the waitress returned to her counter.

Edward Hamilton rushed passed the viewing area, and saw Lady Salinger-Wallis dabbing her lip. She tilted her head to one side, and waved with the hand she was using. Edward walked into the coffee shop, and sat on the chair that was next to the sofa the Lady was using.

“Oh, sit here!” Lady Salinger-Wallis patted the empty space beside her, “I won’t bite.” She laughed once more. Lady S loved to laugh.

“Are you alright?” Edward asked, with grave concern. “I saw you fall at the top and couldn’t believe how you fell all of the way down.”

“I’m fine” Lady S replied. “I have a bruised knee. I never realised skiing was so much fun!”

“Maybe I should have suggested something else for today ma’am,” Edward was Lady Salinger-Wallis’ chauffeur, and was slightly concerned for his job. “Maybe someone of your age should have…” He realised he was speaking without thinking, and decided to say no more.

“Nonsense!” Lady S finally had a sip of her coffee. “I asked you to suggest something different for today, and you did. And, I’m only fifty, young man.” She never missed anything.

She delved into her shoulder bag to take out her mirror. When she saw her reflection, she roared with laughter once again. “Look at my hair – it’s all over the place!” Edward noticed that it wasn’t. Lady S noticed the waitress over her shoulder in the reflection in her mirror. Behind the counter, the waitress was standing still, staring, as though she was in a trance.

“Eddie,” Lady S looked at her receipt for her coffee, “Go and get yourself a coffee from Clancy over there, and stop worrying. Today is my birthday. Let’s have some fun!”

Who is Clancy Farquhar?

The snow was falling heavily, as it had done so for the last two weeks. Most of the roads in this part of west London were open, but Upper Barnes Mews was one of those that weren’t.

The wireless was reporting a news story of Thailand apparently declaring war on Britain and the United States, and although the older generation sat around and listened carefully, stories of the war had become such an every day thing people just took them in their stride. Michael was more interested in the weather.

The knock at the front door took Michael by surprise, especially as he had been watching the snow falling through the lounge window and hadn’t noticed anybody walk passed. It was just starting to get dark, but he would have still been able to see somebody outside. The house was an end terrace, and the road stopped just passed this house, in fact it was blocked by a brick wall that hid the houses in the road beyond it. There was no way that anyone could have walked into the road from that direction, unless they had climbed over the wall. Which was possible, but highly unlikely due to the heavy snow.

Michael’s mother placed her sewing onto the table in front of her chair, and got up to answer the door. Michael couldn’t make out what was being said in the hallway, but could hear his mother and father talking. His father had already opened the door by the time his mother had left the lounge. Michael then heard another voice. A woman’s voice.

Michael heard a few more hushed words, and then realised that an air raid siren was sounding. His mother came back into the lounge, picked up her sewing work, and took Michael by the hand. She led him to the shelter that was in their back garden.

The shelter was large enough for six people, so there was plenty of room for the four of them. Michael climbed onto his top bunk bed and watched as his mother poured four glasses of fresh orange juice. His father was still speaking quietly to the strange woman who had knocked on the door.

Michael looked at the woman, and saw that she wasn’t so strange after all. Brown hair almost hidden beneath a headscarf, and a long brown coat that went down to just beneath her knees.

The woman noticed Michael looking at her and gave him a kind smile.

“Hello, Michael”, she said, with a northern English accent, “I’m your Auntie Clancy”.

Who is Clancy Farquhar?

“Clanky Farquhar!” Shouted the receptionist as though she was in a very bad mood.Open Book

“CLANKY FARQUHAR!” She bellowed once again, seemingly staring at everyone in the waiting room. There were only three people there, two men and a woman. The two men glanced around the room, at each other, and then back at the gruff receptionist. Neither of them were ‘Clanky Farquhar’. The woman was sitting, un-moving, trance-like.

The receptionist wrote a large cross on the form that was attached to her clipboard, and then turned her attention to one of the two men. “Elliot Rawlinson!”, she scowled at one of the men, and, rather sheepishly, the other one stood up. “Room three.” The receptionist said sternly,and pointed to the stairs. Elliot walked up the stairs, and disappeared along the corridor at the top.

Another buzzer sounded, and the receptionist tutted as she had to alter her direction from returning to her chair behind the receptionist’s desk, and back into the waiting room, where she shouted “Michael Green!”

“Greenwood…” the second man corrected, but the receptionist wasn’t interested. “Room four.” She pointed to the stairs again. Michael left the waiting room the same way that Elliot had.

The receptionist looked at the woman, who was now the only person waiting. “Wake up, miss”, she said, “are you waiting to see a dentist?”

The woman blinked, and looked up at the receptionist. “Oh, sorry, I was miles away” she said, with a kind, but embarrassed smile. The receptionist scowled and narrowed her eyes. “Clanky Farquhar?”

“That’s ‘sea’” the woman corrected the receptionist, who paid as much attention to this correction as she had the previous one, but before she could say anything Clancy stood up, and continued with her correction. “Clancy Farquhar. And no, I’m not waiting to see a dentist. I’m actually here to see you.”

The receptionist looked at Clancy with a look of confusion. Clancy looked at the receptionist with a look of familiarity.

“Do I know you, Miss Farquhar?” the receptionist asked, her voice had softened slightly, but was still stern.

“No, not yet,” Clancy answered. “But you will”