Naturally, the best start to a Sunday is clearing away the empty beer and wine bottles; they were all buzzing with so much adrenalin that I left them to it – the OH has more stamina than me, so he was able to lock the door after the last of them had left, at somewhere around 2 am. A major advantage of village activities is that there’s only a walk home after such events, and it’s not a long one.
I’d not long got the kitchen straight again when the doorbell rang and Annie was waiting there with a bag of copies of the village newsletter.
“I don’t know how much Deirdre told you...” she began, when I interrupted her.
“Assume nothing. Nothing at all. I was handed a box of receipts, cheques and letters and left to work out what it all meant.” I felt a little awkward, bad-mouthing Deirdre when she had clearly been undergoing a pretty dreadful private life, but I did feel a little taken advantage of.
“Oh. Okay.” Annie paused and chewed her lip as she thought about her next step. Finally she decided. “Can I come in, then? Only there is some stuff you probably ought to be shown, and if I don’t tell you today, that’s it for another week, as the schools are back tomorrow so I shall be inundated again.”
An image of the sticky-mouthed Pippa flashed into my head and I tried to combine her with my clean house. “Yes, sure. I’ve got a little time now.”
Annie went through how we needed to keep a record of who was advertising when, and how much they owed us, and then mentioned the final step of mailing a copy of the newsletter to each advertiser who didn’t live in the village. “You’ve made a pretty good start, as far as I can see, because it looks as though it’s in date order now, and I’m pretty certain Deirdre kept most of the info in her head,” she said admiringly. “It’ll take a little time to work out who gets what, but you seem terrifically organised. And so tidy!”
The final comment was made as she glanced around the dining room and into the kitchen. In comparison with her living conditions, I should think a pig-sty would count as tidy, but I decided not to say anything. Some people work better like that, I know, because George told me as much regularly.
So, after a light lunch for the three of us – Ronnie and the OH get on surprisingly well for two people who have nothing in common – I spent the afternoon stuffing envelopes and making notes of who owed money. It’ll probably get easier and quicker as I get used to it. In no time at all it was dark – the clocks have gone back, so I shouldn’t be surprised, but I was – and there was a knock on the front door and a lot of suppressed giggling.
“Twick or tweat!” the small devil squeaked up at me when I answered, thrusting a large pink plastic bucket at my tummy. He was about 5 years old and accompanied by a similar-sized skeleton, a slightly shorter fairy princess and two embarrassed-looking scarecrows a.k.a. mums. Halloween. I had completely forgotten.
“Ah. I’m not sure that I’ve....” I stopped as the little devil’s face fell. The mums gave a pleading look and I thought quickly. “I might have some home-made cookies. Nut allergy, anyone?”
The mums looked deeply grateful so I took that as a go-ahead for nut-laced biscuits and quickly packed up some more of my peanut cookies into a box which I then placed carefully into the bucket.
The little devil was about to turn away when one of the mums nudged him in the back with her elbow.
“Well, what do you say?” she hissed at him.
“Fank you!” he replied, echoed by the skeleton and the princess half a beat later.
Ronnie was quite scathing. “Dreadful American habit,” she said. “Going door to door, begging from strangers. Just asking for trouble.”
While I sort of agree about the trouble aspect, if they’re accompanied by parents and they only go to houses where they might actually be recognised, I don’t mind so much. It’s the teenagers who add a plastic mask to their usual sloppy jeans and T-shirt look, and then expect money, that I object to. Though I wished I’d remembered to buy some bite-size chocolate bars. There were a couple more groups, both accompanied by parents who had entered into the spirit of costume to varying degrees, and all seemed happy with home-made biscuits that were not nut-free, so I got away with it this year.
I spent the last part of the evening watching Downton Abbey. Ronnie had missed a couple of episodes so I had some explaining to do for her, but then, that’s what the live-action-pause button is for, isn’t it?