Tag Archives: mysstery

The Carol Singers…

29 Nov

Today on the GSP Christmas Promo we welcome Violetta Antcliff.

Violetta Antcliff has been a member of the Nottingham Writers’ Club for the best part of Twenty years. She is the winner of numerous short story competitions and was area short listed in Waterstone’s WOW factor story competition. She took first prize in Nottingham short story competition with a story called Irish Mouse Tales and has read her poetry and short stories on local radio.

The book we are highlighting today is The Carol Singers.

With only a cat for company, Alice sits in the gathering gloom recalling Christmases past. Outside, carol singers with hands outstretched wish Merry Christmas to one and all: but it isn’t carol singers who knock on Alice’s door this Christmas eve; it’s ghosts from her past.


Rock, rock, went the old chair, wearing away the last vestige of pile from the faded carpet. Alice had inherited the chair when her mother had passed away many years ago.

She, along with her sister Mildred and brother George had all been rocked in it as babies.
Alice loved the chair and all the memories it held; she recalled the times she’d cradled sweet lovable little Tommy, her own baby in her arms. Remembered how she had rocked him through teething troubles and sleepless nights.

“We’re getting old, Daisy,” she murmured. The old cat she now rocked in place of her baby answered with a low, rumbling belly purr and snuggled deeper into the folds of the shawl spread over her knees.

Alice often talked to the cat; one-sided conversations, she called them. She had no one else to speak to; no one else to argue with, or to exchange points of view.

In days gone by she’d been an avid television viewer, never missing an episode of the soaps; and would pit her wits against contestants on quiz programs, often answering the questions before they did. But the set was old, and when it broke down she didn’t have the funds to replace it. Now it just stood in the corner next to the fireplace, gathering dust.

Alice missed the corner shop most of all; it used to keep her up to date with everything that was going on in the street. Unable to compete with a supermarket that had opened on the outskirts of town three years ago, the owner of the little convenience store finally gave up trying, rolled down the shutter, locked the door and left.

What Alice missed most of all was the neighbourhood gossip, the scandal—who was expecting a baby? Who was in trouble with the law? Who wasn’t married, but just living in sin? This would be whispered from behind a hand, given with a nod and a wink not to be passed on, which it always was. Alice liked to think she’d never been guilty of spreading rumours, but she’d listened and nodded her head along with the rest of them.

The letter box rattled, breaking the silence in the room, and mail thudded to the mat. Alice gently removed the sleeping cat from her knee. “Sorry to disturb you, puss,” she said, getting to her feet. “I know it’ll only be junk mail and bills,” she mumbled, making her way over to the front door to pick them up. “That’s all it ever is: junk-mail and bills; nobody ever writes to me anymore.” She moaned and rubbed the small of her back with one arthritic hand before bending down to retrieve the mail from the door-mat.

“What’s this then?” she murmured, separating an official-looking envelope from the pizza delivery offers and holiday brochures. It was addressed to the occupant of Number Five Cathcart Street. Alice pulled out a chair and sat down at the kitchen table to read it. The table was still set with a cup saucer and plate she hadn’t cleared from breakfast time. She hesitated momentarily before picking up a knife and painstakingly slitting open the envelope and removing the letter. Glasses perched on the end of her nose, she gave it a quick perusal before reading it out aloud. “It’s from the Council,” she said. “This is to inform you of the decision of the local council regarding your house, Number 5 Cathcart Street. It has been condemned and is due for demolition the early part of next year. You will be offered alternative accommodation and help with relocation. Blah . . . blah . . . blah. Yours sincerely.”

Alice read the letter through again, this time to herself, and it was a good ten minutes later before she pushed back her chair and stood up. With trembling hands, she cleared the table and washed the pots. Her mind was not on the task in hand. Instead, she was remembering times past when she had first moved into the little two-up, two-down terrace house.

“I was only seventeen, when Charlie carried me over that door-step. Did I ever tell you that, Daisy? After being unemployed for over a year, my Charlie finally landed himself a job, and he rushed me down to the Registry office and made arrangements for us to get wed. That’s the type of man he was, never stood still long enough to let grass grow beneath his feet. You’d have liked him,” she added.