The Shriving of Miss Esme Stamp…

Episode 85… An old Friend… Part Two

Please, tell me of Bridget, I loved those little stories that she told us. Did you keep in touch with her’, asked Esme.

Celia became solemn in that moment, then said: ‘As far as I know, Bridget developed Polio when she was Eighteen, something to do with the swimming baths that she loved to frequent. All I know is that her family took her back to Cork, I tried writing to them, but they never replied.’

‘Perhaps, just perhaps, they were too sad.’ Esme said thoughtfully, and she reflected on her dear missed friend until Celia broke into her thoughts.

‘Well, maybe things were a little better than I imagined. There was talk from some school friends, that she had married an Irishman who was keen on Golf, and that she managed her disability very well, with a walking stick no less, and a great deal of bravery. She even learned to play golf. But, perhaps, it was all just a rumour.’ she sighed.

‘Well, lets hope it’s true, and that she’s doing the best for herself.’ Charles felt that was the positive thing to say. Then asked, ‘Are you living comfortably, I image you must be, and quite resigned perhaps?’ He knew Celia to be of strong character and felt the question was not out of place.

‘Well, I have comfortable rooms in Camden Town and until now, the rent for this accommodation has been satisfactory, but lately, my very kind landlord, who’s wife has been very sick has had to increase his charges to pay for her care, and this has left me short of Robin’s allowance, so I’m not quite sure about my next move, perhaps find some rooms better suited to my disposition or find an occupation of sorts, although, my schooling never gave me much preparation for that situation, other than being a wife and a lady hostess.’

Esme spoke first. ‘Our highly rated educations did not really equip us, any of us, for the real world. My awakening was with Charles, I learnt so much with him, and since my so-called education, he has always been by my side. Celia, I want you to be close to us. I want you to stay here with us. I don’t want you looking for cheap lodgings. You are to stay with us.’

‘That’s very kind of both of you. But you don’t have the room. There are many of you here already, and besides, you don’t want an old school friend hanging around and reminding you of our younger days, now do you?’

‘Look Celia.’ Charles spoke sincerely. ‘Toby and Barney are moving on. They want to open their own small camera shop in Tooting, they have already inspected the premises and are quite satisfied, and besides, we would love to have you here. You won’t be in the way, and if you like you can take over their old room and their duties in the shop. What do you say?’

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The Shriving of Miss Esme Stamp…

Episode 84… An old friend… Part One

Charles often wondered if they would see or even feel the presence of their beloved Rebecca ever again, time took its place and life seemed to move on at a respectable if not enjoyable pace. As the business, in the little studio shop, gathered itself, Charles and Esme found more time to be together, and then one day in an early, cold December, a young lady entered their little shop in Bayswater.

Celia Tickle was a life long school friend of Esme, and they had many adventures together. This reunion was quite outstanding, she had walked into the shop quite courageously and just quite a lady. Charles of course, knew Celia, and there was much to talk about, so they took themselves into the small parlour at the rear of the shop.

There was talk of the schooldays and lots more. Esme and Charles listened with great interest.

‘I don’t suppose you know I married, yes…  Another school friend, well perhaps you did not, you both have been so busy and I have followed your adventures in our local paper.

‘That’s wonderful news Celia.’ Esme and Charles chorused together and Esme blushed with the slight embarrassment for not keeping in touch.

I also followed Herbert’s rise to his present good fortune,’ she said with delight ‘ That’s how I knew where to find you both.’

Esme spoke quietly for a moment. ‘I once had a dream, at least, I’m sure it was a dream. We were all together. ‘We were all together on some adventure, then the scene dissolved and I was standing outside Charles home, and I don’t know how or why. Tell me, did you marry a school friend from one of our adventures.?’

‘Yes, I did, his name was Robin, Robin Masters, and we had a wonderful time in the four years that we were together. He was a painter, an artist, a potter, he drew wonderful pictures of me and of many others. His success was remarkable. He was loving and caring, and thankfully, he left me a small legacy from the short years we had together and that gets me through the bad times and the memories.’

‘Can we help.’ Esme asked thoughtfully. We will help in any way we can Celia, you know that, you only have to ask.’

Celia read Esme’s thoughts carefully. Then suddenly broke into tears, I’m sorry’, she sobbed. I didn’t come here to disrupt your lives in any way, please forgive me Esme, I know you have this gift, both of you, a way of going beyond our normal lives and into the darkness beyond, I have read and heard the rumours, that you, have a way, of reaching the spirit world, that is far from our normal understanding and far from our perception of what lies in the darkness and for the destiny of all of us.’

Charles and Esme looked at each other with open faces, and thoughts crossed both their minds. “This was a friend in trouble”


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The Shriving of Miss Esme Stamp…

Episode 83… A New Beginning… Part Two

It had become a long dry summer that year, and as the months trickled by, the little corner shop became a hub-bub of thriving activity. There was plenty for everyone to do. Business was booming and whilst Toby and Barney kept busy, simply just running the appointments book and answering the many telephone calls, fitting in some studio sittings and all of the passport photo requests, they had even found time to introduce some retailing into the shop in the form of new camera sales.

Charles was quite busy with his commissions, aside from his regular work photographing many of the young hopefuls to the Theatre world, local dignitaries came his way, in ever increasing numbers.

‘If it goes on like this much longer.’ he remarked to Esme one day. ‘We shall have to take on extra staff.’

“Herby” too, had seen an upturn in his fortunes, “bigger names” were slowly adding to his books, so much so, that he was now able to leave his shabby office in Brick Lane and move to more comfortable surroundings in “The Peoples Palace” on the Mile End Road… And from where he “Lorded” as he had never “Lorded” before!

Charles often thought of the relationship they all had with Rebecca, and quietly, in his own mind, he attributed everyone’s happiness and success to her intervention within their lives.

“One day Rebecca,” he told himself. “I’m sure you’ll find a way back to us, and we will be able to thank you properly”‘ With that in mind, he lifted his head and looked toward a darkened heavenly sky and a most certain world beyond.


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The Shriving of Miss Esme Stamp…

Episode 82… A New Beginning… Part One

It was around the time of Esme’s mother’s funeral that things came to a head, just a little. Constance had been ill for some time, at first thought to be just a mild cough and chill, but that later turned to Influenza. Although, she had distanced herself from her daughter and that of Charles, the blow was never the less traumatic for Esme. Her mother had long since written her daughter from her Will, which never quite surprised Charles, for he was never forgiven for drawing Esme away from the clutches of some rich suitor. A thought, in Charles mind, that was comforted by the fact he had rescued her from an insane husband.

As with funerals, it rained that afternoon in Highgate Cemetery. The small group of mourners wore regular black with matching umbrellas, then slowly walked to the main gates and the waiting cars and taxis.

Charles was deep in thought, then spoke quietly. ‘I realise you mother had never forgiven you for being in love with me, a tradesman’, He was looking into the face of Esme. ‘Perhaps, that was her only simple misgiving, that we should just think of, in all respect, and in all other ways, she was a good Mother and only wanted the best for you. She loved you dearly, that was for certain, and that’s how we will remember her.’

A tear dropped on Esme cheek, it ran down to her neck and disappeared below her clothing. ‘Charles, that very forgiving nature has been one of the many things I love you for. Mother never quite understood our relationship in its true light and perhaps we can forgive her. She had a different perspective on life and living, you and I, both see it now.’

The rain began to ease as they entered the pillared, darkened houses, that hedge-rowed the many streets of their cosy Bayswater, leading to the warm sanctuary of the small photo shop on the corner. They had solemnly attended ‘The Wake’ fashionably exercised at ‘The Ivy’ in that late afternoon and now both were very tired.

‘This is our home’, sighed Esme as they approached a quiet front door. ‘This is where we are safe from the world, this is where we are both one.’

Lights were out, the brothers had gone to bed, and they climbed the rickety staircase to their bedroom on the top floor, wishing that day would never come again.

‘There will be no more Rebecca, I think’ Esme remarked sleepily.

They curled in bed together. ‘Perhaps, just perhaps, you’re right.’ Charles head rested on his pillar, and the darkness of night sped towards dawn…



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The Shriving of Miss Esme Stamp…

Episode 81… Rebecca’s Help… Part 6

There was a time in Charles life, when much of this would have more meaning to him, but now, he knew that his dear friend had settlement, and that he had that same settlement within himself. The business now prospered as never before. The brothers, were very capable in their ways and worthy friends to have. They introduced new business to the photographer’s shop with so much vigour and endless loyalty. Charles, became very fond of this pair, and so did Esme. It was all a very workable team. They would take care of the day to day business in the shop, whilst Esme used her sharp mind on the facts and figures of bookkeeping. Meantime, Charles photographed the steady gathering ranks of his clients.

In was one night in late July, it had been a long day for all, and they had said their weary goodnights, Esme was tired out and fell asleep at once, surprisingly, in the stuffy heat of that particular evening.

A dream began to penetrated the sleep of Charles. In his mind there was no mistake. From that darkness, he knew it was Rebecca.

“Charles,” Her warm voice soaked his soul. “Charles… I cannot help you for much longer. You know, I think, that my time in your world is limited, you gave me the window, soon the darkness will engulf me completely. I thank you for what you have given me. You took  me from that burning building, A portal in your time that I am thankful for. Before I leave you forever, I want you to promise that you will never forget me, that you will always remember me…”

His thoughts interrupted her “I will be with you forever, but must you go, is there another way, perhaps there is another way.’

“There is no other way” Her voice was crying, and then the emotion led to a sudden thought with her. “Perhaps, there is another way, a forgotten path that was once told to me. A strange and mysterious path.” Then her voice was suddenly gone. Charles lay in a motionless state for some moments and his senses raced uncontrollably and in those darkening hours, he turned to a broken sleep, and the unknown…

To be continued later in the year…

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The Shriving of Miss Esme Stamp…

Episode 80… Rebecca’s Help… Part five…

Those next few days in Charles and Esme life seem to change very many things forever. From Herbert, there was no mention of the formidable Mrs Plumb, it was if things had returned to a more stable situation. But there were questions that still seemed to remain in Charles mind. Questions that needed to be answered… He was no longer able to communicate with Rebecca it seemed, this had to be done thru a third party, in this case it was dear ‘Herby’ Had he been fooled, no that was not Rebecca’s way. He had taken her at her absolute word and she had appeared to Herby that was certain. She had given him back his life from those breath-taking waters. It was now clear in Charles mind that things had settled.

The following day had seen little change in everyone’s routine. Toby and Barney continued to run things in the shop, whilst Esme helped Charles finalise the monthly accounts for the business. Charles made a call to Herbert around lunchtime, but it seemed little had changed. There had been no sign of Mrs Plum’s presence.

“Perhaps, that’s a good thing” Charles thought to himself.

In his little bedroom, in his little office, Herbert was sound asleep. That night the darkness held a dream for him. The form of Rebecca came to him, and comforted him, saying he had nothing to fear. Her enciclement of his soul warmed him and slowly the image and the thoughts he had of Mrs Plum began to dissovel from his mind. Rebecca’s warming voice held a promise, that he would meet her within a time of her calling. That promise he would make good to her and with his devotion solely to her. ‘That is all I ask of you, and that is all.’ she added. His murmuring mind said “Yes” with warmed enthuse and the darkness closed his thoughts…


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Snap Around…

You know, this peaceful Cu-De-Sac on the River Lea just outside Welwyn Garden City is a place where you can let your thoughts run free…

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Author’s Note…

Well, it’s going to be Winter Break shopping until the New Year, I guess,  So it’s time for me to thank all you guys out there who have supported the PGC blog throughout the year in respectable numbers and enjoying hopefully, writings that come straight from the heart. The Winter Break is a time of reflected thoughts, when we think of others, giving support to people less fortunate than ourselves. It’s also a time when we support those closer to home, around our own campfires, with love and help where it’s most needed. So have a very happy Winter Break and I hope to see you all again in the New Year…

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The Shriving of Miss Esme Stamp…

Episode 79… Rebecca’s Help… Part Four

A sudden panic seemed to grab everyone. Charles raced to the waters edge. ‘Somebody find a lifebuoy.’ he screamed. Others ran to the edge determined to assist Herbert’s rescue.

The muddied edge of the bank made things difficult. Someone found a Lifebuoy that was conveniently secured by a length of rope and this was hastily thrown to the stricken Herby’ With difficulty, one of his arms thrust itself into the ring, and with some ease, he was gently pulled ashore.

‘He’s dead, I’m sure, he’s dead.’

Herbert lay motionless on the muddy bank, he seemed devoid of any form of life.

‘Call a doctor.’ Charles reacted quickly.

‘Wait, Old man, I’ve done first Aid.’ One of the group stepped forward. It was Peter. ‘ Let me try.’

He pressed heavily on Herbert’s chest, lifting his arms each time for several minutes. Grey Lake water began to sprout from Herbert’s mouth and dribble down his neck. He sputtered then coughed, and his eyes opened slowly.

Words now filled his mouth. ‘I thought I wus a gonna.’ he moaned. The group looked on intensely. ‘Then, this women appeared in my mind, a lovely vision she was, beautiful, she came in the darkness, and then, there was a shower of golden light. She spoke and her voice was so lovely, so gentle. She told me her name was Rebecca and she was here to look after me.’

Herbert looked sad. ‘Then she was gone, like a puff of wind and my mind became blank again. Next, I remember, you guy’s, looking down on me!’

‘It’s Ok Herby, it’s a warm summer’s day and you’re back with us.’ Charles framed words inside his mind.  “So, he has touched on Rebecca”  The reflection was not wasted on him.

That night Charles could not sleep. Esme lay beside, quite sound, with just a little gentle breathing. In the faint light she looked much at peace with herself.

“This is how she should always be.” thought Charles, “And not to have gone through those ordeals in her life as she did, and yet, I’m certain she is a stronger person for it”

In the half light of their curtained bedroom, Charles ran thoughts through his mind. Late night revellers could still be heard making their way homewards from The Kings Head, and somehow it settled his mind into the normality of sleep. Perhaps, Rebecca had been some wild imagine of his, perhaps, Esme laying beside him so gently was the only reality in his life. But he was wrong, and he knew it. everything that had gone of before was real enough! Of that, he was quite certain!

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Todday Revisited…

With the Winter nights slowly closing in on us, it is now time to dust off an old friend in my DVD collection of classic British films. Earning its place, rightly so, is Ealing’s wonderful comedy drama “Whisky Galore” and so with a dram in one hand and a comfortable armchair the film took me on a cosy outing with the inhabitants of a little Scottish Island by the name of “Todday”

It was in the summer of 1948 when the Ealing crew arrived on the beautiful Island of Barra in the Western Isles of Scotland. Michael Balcon, head of Ealing Studios had not been happy about the production, saying as he looked at the story board, he just did not understand it!  “It holds few laughs” he was heard to comment. Based on a Compton Mackenzie novel, shooting almost entirely on location presented huge problems, everything, including cast and crew, and a huge amount of camera equipment, had to be shipped from mainland Scotland. Actors were billited with a number of the Islanders, and in fact, many of the inhabitants appear in the production. Their view of the film people was… That they were quite mad! Prefabricated sets were constructed at Ealing Studios in London then shipped for assembly on Barra. Under the brilliant direction of Alexander Mackendrick, an American born Scot, the film gently eases you into a world of warmth, gentilityand innocent skulduggery. I think this was partly due to Mackendrick’s insistence on being present during every scene, however, this did push the budget over by 20,000, and in those days that was a lot of money…as Michael Balcon soon pointed out, and when he saw the rushes he hated it, and ordered the film to be cut and released as a B’ supporting picture! At this point, Mackendrick asked Charles Crichton, a top editor, if he would look at the negatives. He did… And Recut, and Recut… the result was a more acceptable product for the Ealing Studio boss. Being based on a true maritime sinking means that some facts had to be changed. The real sinking took place off the Isle of Eriskay, and the local Islanders did profit from their huge haul of ‘Scotch’… Unlike the movie that had to deal with the moral issue. In America the movie was given a new title and called “Tight Little Island” because a number of States, were at the time ‘Temperance’  If one looks at the stills today Alexander Mackendrick is always there beside the camera operator, and I think, that is what made it such a lasting and enduring, warm and attractive film.

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