When Sally finds an injured man in a ditch beside the road and tries to help him she little realises the danger she is in. She soon learns to Trust No One
The guns lined up in a neat row against the back wall were all I had hoped for and the dour McFarlane's suspicious grunt as I picked one of them up and balanced it in my hand was not going to discourage my joy in them. I must confess that I felt no twitch of premonition, no hint of foreboding, as I patted the stock lovingly and sighted along the barrel. Indeed how could I have guessed at the time at the consequences of my day's activities, at the nightmare and the tragedy that were to follow?
So I just said cheerfully, 'Exactly what we need. Great!' and stood the ancient musket back in its rack.
McFarlane grunted again in disgust and I thought that Aunt Fran, with whom I was living for the duration of the holiday job, had been quite right in her assessment.
'McFarlane's bound to be a pain,' she had said when I had told her about my proposed visit to Kintairlie High on the previous day. 'School caretakers always are.' Then, obviously puzzled, ‘Why rifles anyway? I thought it was Julius Caesar.'
'So it is, so it is, but you know Mr Deloitte. If it can be modernised then he'll modernise it. It must,' I held my hands as Hugo Deloitte holds them, like a Balinese dancer with arms above the head, palms out and up, '"relate".'
Aunt Fran had grinned, knowing our director as she does.
'And since his props manager is busy having a nervous breakdown, I’m being allowed to go over there tomorrow afternoon to inspect their hall and equipment and see if the guns they’ve got are suitable and if there’s anything else we can use. Their head of English has written to Mr Deloitte ...man called Matthews...'
I fished in my bag and produced a somewhat crumpled letter.
‘The school's off for the day but the caretaker, Mr McFarlane, will assist your props manager with all the details and should there be any difficulty a Mr G Sherrington will be there for extra tuition and will lend a hand. ‘ I pulled a face. ‘Probably some sweet little old fuddy-duddy from the English department, covered in Milton and tattered volumes.'
‘I wish you much joy,’ Aunt Fran had said, ‘You’d better take the scooter,’ and then, ‘McFarlane will probably be another Cassius of the 'lean and hungry look.'’
In fact he was short and stocky and looked relatively well fed although this didn't seem to have improved his temper much. He had grudgingly shown me over the hall, warned me against the curtain (it stuck halfway unless you knew how to humour it), and demonstrated the lighting system efficiently enough but gazed at me as if I meant to run off with all of Kintairlie High, hall included, when I asked him for the key to the props cupboard. I explained patiently.
'Did Mr Matthews not tell you that we'd need to check out some of your props? Mr Deloitte didn't think there was any point in our lugging things over from Kilstratten which you have here.'
McFarlane cast me a look of positive dislike. Coupled with the fact that I was a Sassenach and a foreigner here I was, wanting to rummage in his props cupboard.
I gave him my best smile and said winningly, 'It's rifles we really need, Mr McFarlane. You see, we're doing Julius Caesar here a week next Thursday.'
I thought that the smile had carried the day, but at the mention of yet another foreigner his face seized up and his accent became incomprehensible.
'Ah regrret, bit I dinna ken whaur they've pit the key. Y'll have tae arsk Mr Sherrrington.' And muttering all sorts of Gaelic imprecations he shuffled off to his broom cupboard.
I sighed. Obviously Mr Sherrington, the ancient from the English department, was the next on my list. I recalled McFarlane from his polishing machine long enough to find out where the man was - oddly enough, in the laboratory on the second floor - and set off in his pursuit. Perhaps it was the only place with heating?
After having made a couple of false entries I eventually found the lab, but as I poked my head around the door I saw that my quarry had fled. There was nobody there except a Bunsen burner, a sixth former and a young, strong-looking type, possibly head of the rugger eleven. Or even more likely McFarlane had sent me to the wrong place.
'Mr Sherrington around?'
The strong looking type looked up.
'Here. Someone looking for me?' The accent was definitely transatlantic.
It was silly to be so taken aback and it only shows the danger of preconceived notions. I suppose I stammered something and the brown eyes gazed at me reflectively. I was looking at a tall, compact young man, dressed in immaculate casual wear and with a lock of dark brown hair falling forward above some very straight, dark eyebrows. The chin seemed a little uncompromising too. Another dour chappie like McFarlane I thought to myself in disgust until enlightenment crossed his features and he smiled.
'Oh you must be here about the performance. You'll be with the assistant stage manager... one minute, Matthews told me ... '
'That's right, that's the guy.'
'I'm Richards.' I was dangerously polite. After all, I didn’t need to add ‘very very assistant.’
For a second he looked a little taken aback, which made two of us and I felt a whole lot better, and then the brown eyes laughed at me..
'Oh - er - sorry about that, Miss Richards. Failed on the PC front again, I guess.’ He did not, to my mind, look particularly contrite.
‘Anything I can do for you?' Then he grinned again. 'No, don't tell me. The janitor's being a pain in the ass.'
'Well,' I chose my words carefully, 'Mr McFarlane doesn't seem to know where the key to the props cupboard is.'
'Lies, all lies, honey. Of course, he's got the key. Let's go and sort him out. I'm about through here.'
Extinguishing the Bunsen burner and thrusting a heap of books into the arms of the sixth former he accompanied me below stairs. In the presence of the forceful Mr Sherrington, whose accent, I decided, was East side USA, probably Vermont or Boston, McFarlane became almost cooperative and the rifles, pre-World War I musket type, were all that could be desired. It is true that had they been real they’d have been collectors' pieces and there would certainly be some knowledgeable brat in the audience who would point out that they were totally useless but for our purposes they were fine. There were some decent banners as well and a couple of Corinthian columns, so all in all I felt well satisfied with the morning's work. I'd even won over the stern heart of McFarlane in the end by revealing that I could recite ‘Scots wha hae wi' Wallace bled,’ and with a passable accent to boot.
An hour later I was heading for home on Aunt Fran’s scooter, rolling gently towards Torwood and Kilstratten, feeling well disposed to the world in general. I had chosen the back road from Stirling to avoid the traffic, as now that the bypass is open hardly anyone uses Back Lane, and it was pleasant to sail past fields and hedgerows and not to have to worry about ten ton trucks behind. The Ochil Hills were green and mauve and shadowy on my left-hand side, the scents of spring washed over me and I was enjoying the heat of the sun on the back of my anorak.
Something moved in the grass verge ahead of me.
I couldn't tell what it was, some small animal perhaps, but my attention was distracted and I wobbled slightly.
Then, as I saw what was lying, half in, half out of the long grasses at the roadside's edge, the wobble became an outright swerve and I careered straight off the road and into the ditch, finishing up with my face buried in a clump of very late primroses and the bike on top of me, pinning down one leg.
The object which momentarily seemed to have filled my whole field of vision had been an outflung arm, the hand lying, palm upward, in a kind of plea.
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Paperback £8.99 (to be published 2018)
By Caroline Smith
Fighting Strokes A Carers Manual
Designed to help carers who are looking after someone who has suffered a major stroke
THE FIRST SHOCK
I was awoken by George patting my arm in the middle of the night.
‘What’ I said sleepily.
There was no answer, and the patting carried on.
‘George,’ I said, my voice rising, ‘What is it?’
I was lying away from him so I struggled over. It was quite dark.
‘George, what is it?’ I said.
He carried on patting ineffectually, using his left hand to try and reach across, and I thought he was probably having a nightmare. Perhaps he had got tangled in the sheet. I sat up and pulled on the light switch.
‘Are you all right?’
I looked into his eyes. And then I knew.
His eyes were blank. But the patting continued, his own shoulder now. I shot out of bed and ran to my mother who was visiting us, asleep in the next bedroom.
‘Wake-up, wake-up! George has had a stroke.’
The phone. Where’s the phone?
Dialling 999 I realised I had really no idea what to do.
There are always a few moments at the beginning of these calls when they ask you what for them are vital questions, firstly the service you require – ‘Ambulance. Ambulance!’ I scream - and then another voice, your name, your address, the number you’re calling from, your problem. Aware from all those adverts that every second is precious I can feel hysteria rising, but eventually I am speaking to a nurse and the voice is calm and reassuring. After having established what has happened, whether the patient is conscious and answering questions and so on, she assures me that the ambulance is only 10 minutes away.
I have managed to prop George up on the side of the bed and I am talking to him, reassuring him, even though he gives no sign of having heard me, and he topples over if I don’t keep myself wedged against him.
I ask my mother to watch for the ambulance since our house is set back off the road and they might miss us, and she opens up the front door, fortunately on the same level as the bedroom.
The nurse carries on talking to me. She says she will stay with me until the ambulance gets there which she does.
It seems an eternity but in fact it is only 10 minutes and the ambulance men arrive. It is such a relief to know that George is in professional hands.
They perform a series of tests and eventually transfer him to the ambulance. In the meantime I have informed close family and friends and I go off with George to the hospital leaving my mother behind. The ambulance men have said that’s since it’s a Saturday night A & E is no place for an old lady.
‘I’ll look after the house,’ she says.
In the ambulance they carry on performing their tests, muttering over George’s BP and other vital statistics. At the hospital he is transferred immediately to the Resuscitation Room.
Shortly after our arrival our son and George’s close friend arrive within seconds of each other and we three sit together on a hard bench outside The Resuscitation Room waiting for news. It is 2.45 in the morning.
At one stage somebody comes out and gives me George’s watch and ring, but tells me that it is too soon to tell whether he will survive.
‘Have they used the Injection to be given immediately after stroke?’ I ask.
‘There’s a bit of a problem with that,’ he says, ‘in that it depends what type of stroke you have had. If it’s a blockage in the artery the injection will help . If it is due to a burst vein then the injection will do more harm than good. I assure you that everything is being done to help your husband.’
He looks sad and dispirited.
We wait and we wait and eventually the doctor comes out and explains that not only has George had a severe stroke but also that he is having fits. However they have stabilised him and he will be able to go up to a ward for observation.
We get up onto the ward and George, dressed in one of those hospital nighties tied up in the back, is popped into bed.
Immediately he rears up and tries to climb out, unsuccessfully due to the paralysis on the right side, but allowing all his private parts to be displayed. It is a mixed ward and there is an old lady in the opposite bed watching us but George seems unaware of this. The nurses and I get him to lie down and eventually he settles and appears to go to sleep.
I am terrified because although he has looked at me he clearly does not know who I am.
Using Literature in Language Teaching Ist Edition
Currently unavailable. 2nd Edition coming soon
By Jennifer Hill
Demonstrating practical ways in which literary texts can be integrated simply and effectively into language study, using basic methods to make them accessible, lively and memorable.
Also indicates ways in which analysis of literary texts can strengthen student's command of the language and their unerstanding of the wider cultural heritage behind them