Previously in Leeford Village: The presiding judge gives each of the ‘Banfield Four’ a suspended sentence. They are free to go, but only after a nervous wait for Nigel. Bridgit Peabody and Cody are in Leeds and approach the Grendel house. John Peterson is convinced that Jack Simmons will know where the helmet is buried when the competition starts at the fete.
‘It’s the right house, Bridgit. “Chez Grendel”. Very original.’
‘Ring it then,’ Bridgit says, not hiding her irritation.
They can hear the chimes resonating through the hall into the other rooms. A figure appears at the door.
‘It’s him,’ Cody whispers. ‘Derek.’
‘Can I help you?’
‘Are you Derek Grendel?’ asks Bridgit.
‘Who wants to know?’
She shows him her business card, never intending to hide the nature of her profession.
‘Private Investigator? What are you investigating?’
Cody has had enough. He pushes past Derek and looks for a door that might lead to a sitting room. At the second attempt, after peering into the cloakroom – making a mental note to avail himself of the facilities later – he enters the sitting room and sits on the armchair facing the window.
‘Oi!’ Derek shouts, following Cody into the room. ‘Who said you could come in?’
Although the scowl that has adorned Bridgit’s face since Cody barged his way into Chez Grendel still remains, Bridgit resigns herself to admitting that her temporary assistant has successfully found a way in. Derek, muttering under his breath, sits on the huge sofa at the back of the room. Bridgit joins him, albeit at the far end of the sofa. Derek continues his protest.
‘Who the hell do you think you are?’
Cody rises in the chair and points at Derek.
‘You’ve got a nerve, Grendel. Extorting money from my wife. And it’s my money – hard-earned money.’
‘Premium Bond win, I heard,’ says Derek.
Bridgit joins in.
‘That’s irrelevant, Mr Grendel. We believe that you acquired twenty thousand pounds from Agnes under false pretences.’
‘What’s it to you?’
‘To me? Nothing,’ she says. ‘I’ll get a fee whatever happens, but if you’re not straight with us now – right here and now – the police will have a field day with you. We have a taped conversation that proves what you said to Agnes.’
Cody’s eyes snap into focus, and he stares at Bridgit but stays silent. What taped conversation? Reading his mind, Bridgit goes into an elaborate explanation of how Agnes had been wearing a listening device when Derek demanded the money from her for Jasmine’s IVF treatment. Derek looks to the floor.
‘Yes,’ says Cody. ‘Agnes has told us everything.’
‘Where is Jasmine?’ asks Bridgit.
‘They’ve gone,’ Derek replies.
‘Jasmine and her daughter, Kim.’
Bridgit takes a deep breath, sensing that Derek is on the ropes.
‘Tell us everything - now - and return the money to Cody’s account and we might consider cancelling that call to the Fraud Squad,’ snaps Bridgit.
Derek’s eyes fill with tears.
‘Do you know where they are?’ asks Bridgit.
Cody and Bridgit look at each other.
‘Jasmine and Kim. They’ve left me. For good.’
Peter Redman narrows his eyes, and for a moment has direct eye contact with Jessica.
‘Who the hell is “Long-Haired Reginald”?’
‘Surely you’ve heard of him, Peter, he’s well-known in folk circles.’
‘Yes, but where? Chile?’ he asks.
‘Admittedly, mainly in the States, but I’ve seen him play in the Midlands a couple of times,’ says Jessica.
‘What does he play?’
‘Piano, usually, but also acoustic guitar.’
‘He doesn’t wear fancy glasses and high-heeled boots, does he?’
Now it’s Jessica’s turn to stare at her Folk Festival co-chair.
‘Strangely, he used to, and he does do the odd cover of 70s rock / pop, but before you say anything, he’s sticking to traditional folk for our festival.’
‘Glad to hear it,’ says Peter.
For weeks, Steve Adams has been telling his daughter, Clare, that ‘Mom will be home soon’, without really believing it. He has forgiven Suptra, after punching him on the Weston coach, and then having that ‘reconciliation coffee’ at the motorway service station. He wants to forgive his wife, Mel, but he hasn’t seen her - apart from at a distance in the village - since throwing her out of the family home. He’s heard a lot about her, particularly from the post office gossip, Pippa, who has dutifully kept the residents of Leeford Village up to date with the latest news and developments of the ‘scandal’. Today, however, is a different day. A new day. He has left a message with Agnes Thornton, letting Mel know that he wants to see her.
Mel arrives at the door as Steve returns from taking Clare to college. Mel’s bags are in the boot of her car. Just in case. She has no idea how he feels, or if this is the end of their marriage. She has heard the same gossip, and can’t quite believe that the ‘whisperers’ - as Agnes describes them - have been talking about the same couple. Steve is the first to speak as he puts his key in the door, struggling to stop his hands from shaking.
‘Thanks for coming.’
Mel places her hand over his.
‘Don’t say it, Mel. I know, and I’m sorry too.’
He smiles, slips his arm around her waist, as they step into the hall. A loving reconciliation.
‘Right lads,’ says Ted, ‘let’s show ‘em what we’ve got, eh?’
The Leeford Village six-a-side walking football team is, if nothing else, a bunch of triers. The effort is there. They would shed blood for the village, and often do. Only last week, Ken Taylor, a new addition to the ‘squad’, lost a little toenail. The coach, Frank Reed, and club secretary, Ted Coleman (who seems to think he is the reincarnation of Bill Shankly) now have a squad of seven to choose from. Eight if you include the occasional substitution foray by Ted himself. Ken, in contrast, only has nine toenails. At the end of the last match, his little toe bled so much that even his wife, Violet, was sympathetic. In The Cross for the post-match drinks, the wives joined the triumphant players (they had only lost four-one and were celebrating the one) when Violet was heard to say ‘my brave little soldier’ to Leeford’s one and only farmer. A farmer with a reputation for toughness. Cody, and of course, Ted, made a meal of it.
‘Another pint, my brave little soldier?’ said Ted.
Cody kept offering him Burry’s vouchers for cheap plasters.
Leeford Village might have a team of triers, but skilful most of them are not. Cody can just about manage to lace his boots, and even that procedure has to be repeated every ten minutes during a match. Nick has some talent, and he can place a pass on a sixpence. The problem is that no one else in the team is standing anywhere near a sixpence when he achieves this. Their opponents don’t have to tackle our brave lads - the ball just comes to them. Having said all that, Ted, who after all, is the club secretary – not the coach (that honour goes to Frank Reed) – is nothing if not determined. Ted continues his pep talk in the hope of getting them ‘fête-ready’. He has committed his team to the ‘Football Skills Demonstration’ at the fête to be held on the vicarage lawn. The villagers have high expectations of dazzling skills from highly-tuned athletes.
‘We’ll start with keepy-uppy. Now, each of you get a ball. Start by dropping it onto your thigh, then kick it up onto your head.’
Cody isn’t yet back from Leeds, his place in the six temporarily taken by Ken, who trips over a lunge for the ball by local bank manager, Justin Wilkins. Ted is insanely jealous of Justin, who used to be administration manager at Wolverhampton Wanderers, so he is quite relieved that there is a discipline in which Justin lacks a certain level of adroitness.
The result of Justin’s lunge is to consign a winded Ken to the ground as they both lose control of the ball. Ted tries to demonstrate how it should be done and manages two touches. Nick gets up to five (at least he looks like a footballer) and the official coach achieves fifteen. ‘I could do over a hundred in my day,’ he claims. The other team members – Steve Adams and local pharmacist, Daniel Windrush, fare no better. The session continues with dribbling round the traffic cones that George Owens has ‘acquired’ from recent roadworks near his farm on the A449. Then they move on to head tennis. Lack of coordination throughout the group seems to lead to a situation where the only skills available might be demonstrated by the triage nurse in the A&E department of Banfield General.
‘Don’t worry, lads. We’ll be ready for the Football Skills Demonstration at the fête,’ says Ted.
‘They won’t believe what they are watching.’
Nick Allthorpe and John Peterson have put the finishing touches to the plan for the fete. They are happy that Jessica and Peter can now work together, and the Folk Festival, running in parallel with the fete, is almost ready. Jack Simmons assures them that the Find the Helmet competition will be a roaring success, and the local footballers are apparently hard at work honing their dribbling and juggling skills. Jack, too busy with the helmet in the vicar’s garden, won’t be doing the Pound Challenge this year, but all the other stalls – albeit scaled-down versions – will be in evidence, with the exception of Cody and Agnes’s bookstall.
The list can now be proudly displayed on the Community Centre notice board:
Cake stall: Ethel
Leeford’s Best Cucumber: TBA
Tombola: Dr Jeremy
Soft drinks and nibbles: Ted and Sally
Chuck the sponge: Nick and Jessica
Home-made cards: Meredith and Adam
Pies and pasties: Nigel and Mandy
Coconut shy: Jason