Chapter 30 of Curmudgeon Avenue Book One (The Terraced House Diaries)

This sample chapter is taken from Curmudgeon Avenue book #1 The Terraced House Diaries available to buy here UK and here US

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Chapter 30: You’ll Never Sell Curmudgeon Avenue, Not in a Million Years.

 

You may be forgiven for thinking that all was rosy at number one Curmudgeon Avenue. The roof was getting fixed, Edith was warming to Harold in the same way that Edna had warmed to him all those years ago. Georgina Foote was a paying, and reliable tenant and Ricky Ricketts’ relationship continued to bumble along in the dramatic way that the young folk of Whitefield enjoy so much these days. But do not let yourself think that Edna is happy! She would be nothing without that scowl. Put yourself in Edna’s shoes though; long term partner mysteriously disappears believed to be living in France with a Lancashire accent. Ex adopted son of long term partner tries to sue for his dubious adoption and lack of birth certificate, (the legal fees of which are left to Edna). Then her parents get squashed by elephants, Edna is then forced to live with her irritating younger sister who falls in love with one of her childhood boyfriends – the most annoying Harold that ever lived! Not to mention the leaking roof. Poor Edna, this chain of events, would be enough to turn anyone potty. Not Edna though, not to the outside world, and when I say outside, I mean outside her bedroom. As soon as the roofers had finished, she locked herself away, it was her way of dealing with the Harold story.

Meanwhile, Edith was getting carried away with herself, she remembered before she married Reginald Ricketts all those years ago, someone had told her she would be spending all her life picking up socks and underpants. Now, who was that? It was Edna. Now, what was she going to do about Edna? Her older sister she lived with, but could not say when she had seen her last. She had asked Harold about it. What a mistake. This did nothing but massage his ego. Men like Harold could only dream of two sisters fighting over him. Even if he was stretching the truth.

‘Why, what has Edna said?’ Harold was looking at himself in the mirror, Edith was sat behind him on her bed.

‘Nothing! I haven’t even spoken to her about you. Well apart from ages ago, you know, years ago’ Edith dug herself further in ‘I think she might be hiding from us.’

‘Oh,’ Harold said. Edith could not tell if that was a grumpy ‘oh’ or a regular ‘oh’. Maybe Harold is just grumpy in the mornings, she thought.

Familiarity was breeding contempt. Harold and Edith were spending more and more time together.  Edna was now fully isolated, she could go for weeks, and the only person she had seen was Mrs Ali – and that was out of the window. What else could Edna do? She was guilty of perverting the course of justice. Harold had been falsely accused of trespass… And even though no charges were brought – the mystery accuser (Edna) had failed to make further contact with the police, people thought of him as a pest, a nuisance … It was only a matter of time before he traced it back to Edna. The longer she kept this a secret, the worse it got. She had talked herself out of any involvement, then talked herself back in again. She deserved it. That’s what you get for holding a grudge for so many years. Now he was dating her poor little sister! Edna thought long and hard about this. She got herself all vexed. She could see how it was going to go. Harold was already ‘throwing his weight around’ pinching food, changing the TV channel.

Edith, meanwhile could not cope without her older sister. And then there was the guilt. She was falling in love with Harold, but this seemed to have sent Edna into a deep depression, hardly venturing out of her room, all because of Edith (or so she thought). She had read somewhere that not going out can cause a lack of vitamin D, and this could cause all kinds of problems. The other thing that was getting to Edith was that if Edna did not go out, Edith would have to do everything. All the cleaning and all the shopping. And deal with the up and over garage door alone.

Edith, concerned that Edna was ‘going mad’ wanted to help her before it was too late.

Edna, concerned that Edith’s meddling would result in her secret being exposed. Needed to hide even further before it was too late. Harold suggested writing a poem.

‘She likes poems, I once wrote her a poem to help her understand why we had to break up.’

Edith thought of Harold’s poem, how she had rescued it from the bin after Edna scrunched it up into a ball and threw it in there. Edith wrote Edna a poem. The intention was, for Edna to realise she needed help.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

She made a fortress where she felt safe

Hoarding stuff right up to her face

Vermin got a warm embrace

What a mess

The neighbours complain

They don’t know her shame

The isolation of self-inflicted pain

Obsessively counting over again

I’ve looked into this graded exposure

She doesn’t want to recover, it’s all she has control over.

 

Actually, Edith had added a bit of drama to the poem. No mice had been found in Edna’s bedroom. Well apart from the dead one that Henri the third had put in the eaves later to be discovered by the roofers. No neighbours had complained. Mrs Ali had mentioned something to Edith, but only out of concern. Yes, Edith added a bit of drama to the poem, but at least she made it rhyme. Edith, being Edith, gave the poem to Edna as an early birthday present. She slotted it inside a book of poetry. Edna did not notice the piece of paper drop out of the book. She smiled at her sister.

‘I’ve meant to speak with you, Edith’ Edna had come over all motherly and patronising. ‘I’ve been worried about you… Look, if you are going to take up with Harold, just be careful he doesn’t take advantage of you’ Edna was stood on the step that led into the attic room, and Edith was stood a few steps down from her.

‘Take advantage?’ Edith said, all thoughts of poems and graded exposure now out of the window ‘I’m nearly seventy!’

‘Oh, I didn’t mean that, Edith. I meant money, that sort of thing. Harold, he has his ways. Always wants something for nothing, you know.’

‘Well, he might be different with me’ Edith started to retreat down the stairs. Edna had manipulated Edith and touched a nerve. ‘I think we should sell the house, Edith. Cut our losses and split the proceeds. Then you can do what you want with your share’ by this, Edna meant Harold and Ricky Ricketts.

‘You’ll never sell this house, not in a million years!’ Said Harold from his eaves-dropping position. Edna eventually asked for help, with her compulsions, but only because she thought this would provide a good defence if, indeed she was ever arrested for setting Harold up. Nothing came of it though. Edna was offered an appointment at the nearest mental health centre.

The letter read as follows:

 

Dear Miss Payne,

Your GP has referred you to the community mental health team to cure your fear of leaving the house.

Therefore, please leave your house, and attend the appointment on the date and time stated on the enclosed appointment card.

Yours sincerely

Georgina Foote RMN

 

There was no appointment card enclosed. Edith telephoned to confirm the appointment time for her sister. She was told that Georgina Foote had just gone ‘On the sick, long term due to stress’… Georgina Foote? She’s our lodger! Edna thought, had anyone seen her recently, though? All this concern for Edna’s well-being and no one had noticed that Georgina Foote was missing!

Join me same time next week when we find out where Georgina Foote has run away to (hint – she’s on a train!)

Happy reading, Samantha xx

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