Every Friendship has a Beginning

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Life Changing News

Anthony was sat in the linen cupboard and was starting to write a letter to Athene, he had just written the date, July 4th 1954, when there was a huge shout from downstairs.

“Yes!” screamed a voice.

“Tony! Simon! Nick!” yelled Mark, “get down here!”

“What the hell?” muttered Anthony climbing down from his shelf, bringing his letter and pen downstairs with him.

He ran into Nick and Simon, who were running down the stairs and followed them down to the sitting room.

Mark was watching the television and was watching the news of all things.

Here was Anthony, thinking that Mark was going to be watching one of his film stars, or one of his music shows or something, but no, Mark was yelling in excitement over the news.

“What in the world is going on here?” asked Mrs Brown coming into the sitting room with her hands on her hips, coming to see what all the ruckus was.

Mark just pointed towards the television, where the broadcaster was reading off a piece of paper.

A man in a neat suit was reading in an upper-middle-class accent, typical of the BBC.

“It was announced this afternoon in a statement from the prime minister, that after nearly fifteen years of rationing, rationing is finally over. For the last few years, the government have been cutting back on the number of items being rationed.”

“As recently as last year, sugar and confectionery products were no longer rationed. As of today, I am pleased to announce, that meat and all over food products are no longer to be rationed.”

The news programming ended, and the music hour that Mark had been waiting for started.

“It can’t be,” muttered Mrs Brown still staring at the television and shaking her head in disbelief.

Anthony’s mouth was hanging open, there had been rationing on longer than he had been alive! Rationing started a few months before Mark and Anthony had been born!

“I’ve got to write to Athene about this!” exclaimed Anthony going back up to the linen cupboard.

He could still hear Mark and Nick singing in celebration as he headed back upstairs.

4th July 1954

Dear Athene,

It’s happened! It’s all over! Rationing is over!

I was just about to start writing a letter to you when I heard yelling from downstairs. It turns out that it was Mark who had been watching the news of all things!

As of today, meat and all other food are off the ration!

I think the first thing I want is a nice juicy hamburger, I’ve heard about them from Harry, but I’ve never had one. Apparently, they’re really popular in America.

Simon’s been acting really weird all week. Goodness knows why he got his A-Level results back and did better than he had expected. He’s been really quiet, and you know what Simon’s like! I’m worried he’s up to something...

It’s more than that though, he’s hardly seen Cels all Summer. We’ve only been home a week, but he saw her on the first day, and now hasn’t seen her since. Celia has been on holiday with her family for the last week but she’s coming back today and Simon’s going around for tea.

I just hope he can come back this evening more like his usual self.

Sorry if this is a bit of a short one Athene, just had to tell you about the rationing! I’ll write with an update on Simon as soon as I get one.

Miss you loads, Anthony Charles Pennington.

P.S. Fred and Ginger say hi!

Anthony wrote the address carefully and headed downstairs so he could go post his letter.

“Hi Simon,” he said cheerfully as he bumped into Simon on his way out the door.

“Oh hey Tony,” he muttered.

Simon seemed to be very distracted and clearly had his mind elsewhere. This was strange, because if any of the Pennington boys were usually acting distracted or had his mind wandering it was Anthony, not Simon.

“You going to the Bell’s for tea then?” he asked as they walked down to the village together.

“Yeah,” he sighed deeply, his hands in his jacket pocket.

“There something wrong Simon?”

“I’ll tell you later,” said Simon smiling slightly and seeming to return to his usual self.

“Now get on with you,” he chuckled ruffling his brother’s hair as they reached the Bell’s house in the village.

“Good luck!” Anthony called as he walked away, “with whatever it is!”

Anthony headed to the post office, and posted his letter to Athene, before heading back to the house.

Anthony was lying on top of his bed reading a book. He was reading his copy of The Hobbit again. Something about Tolkien’s world drew him in and made him want to read the book over and over again.

“I’m home!” called a voice up the stairs.

“Dad!” exclaimed Anthony running down the stairs.

He came rushing down the stairs, bringing his book with him.

“Hey Tony,” he chuckled giving his son a quick hug.

“Did you hear about the rationing?” asked Anthony looking up at him.

“Hmmm,” he nodded.

“Let’s put it this way, getting the roast for Sunday’s is going to become a lot less difficult.”

“You’re telling me!” muttered Mrs Brown as they came through to the kitchen.

Just before dinner, as Mrs Brown was about to start serving the beef casserole and boiled potatoes, Simon came into the kitchen a huge grin plastered over his face.

He looked younger than he had done all week, and his eyes were lit up like stars.

“What’s got you grinning like a Cheshire Cat?” asked Mark smirking as he ate his dinner.

“What are you talking about?” asked Simon innocently but still smiling like mad.

“Oh, come on Simon,” said Nick exasperated.

“You’ve been walking around like a wet week, but now you go to tea at the Bell’s just one time like you have fifty times before and you seem to be walking on air.”

Simon blushed slightly; he didn’t know he had been that obvious about how much he had missed Celia.

Mr Pennington was smiling but hadn’t said anything. He knew exactly what was going on.

“Well um, I asked Celia to marry me.”

“You what!” stammered Nick.

“What did she say?” asked Mark excitedly.

“She said yes,” he beamed.

“Congratulations Simon,” said Anthony.

“See I told you had nothing to worry about son,” said Mr Pennington shaking his head.

“Right!” called Mr Pennington after dinner, “family meeting!”

“Oh god we’re not starting wedding planning already,” muttered Nick as they all headed through to the sitting room.

“Not exactly no.”

Mr Pennington sat down in his armchair, and Nick and Simon shared one of the sofas.

Mark attended the meeting, but was sitting on the floor in a position that was the half splits, he was clearly trying to stretch his legs again.

Anthony was trying to read his book again.

“You know the rules, Tony,” said Mr Pennington taking The Hobbit from Anthony.

“If Mark can do his dance stretches, why can’t I read?” asked Anthony.

“Because I want you to pay attention,” he said simply.

“That means you too Mark!”

Mark grumbled slightly as he stopped stretching his legs and sat down properly next to Simon on the sofa.

“Right we need to talk about the future,” said Mr Pennington.

“Oh god you’re not getting married too are you Dad?” muttered Nick.

“You’re marrying Mrs Brown, aren’t you?” asked Mark grinning madly.

Mrs Brown had to be seventy if she was a day, and whilst she and Mr Pennington had a very good relationship, there had never been anything whatsoever romantic.

“Ha ha very funny,” chuckled Mr Pennington.

“No, what we actually need to talk about is the business.”

“I know that you want to join the business at the end of the Summer Simon, and I think that you also want to join in a year Nick.”

“I’ve been thinking it through about where you would be best suited in the publishing business. You Simon have always been very good at talking to people, always been a people person and had a good rapport.”

Simon shrugged slightly, he had always been an easy person to get along with it, but what did that have to do with anything?

“I think you’d be a good frontman for the company, talking to new clients, organising deals with the bookshops, dealing with the press.”

“Sounds cool,” beamed Simon.

“But it’s more than that, you and Celia would be able to live up in London. The job would be quite hands-on but very exciting.”

“London!” exclaimed Simon his eyes lighting up again.

“I’ve already got a flat sorted out for you,” he beamed.

“As for you Nick, if you still want to join Pennington’s publishers.”

“Of course, I want to join Dad,” said Nick.

“Well then, you and Simon have very different strengths. You’re more comfortable behind a desk than your older brother.”

“That’s the truth,” chuckled Simon patting Nick on the back.

“You’ve got an eye for detail. I think you’d make a good editor, going through prospective manuscripts, and helping make the changes before they’re published.”

“Sounds great Dad!” beamed Nick.

“Why are we here though?” asked Mark in a tone of utter boredom.

“Because I’ve got a funny feeling that you don’t want to go into publishing, the same for you Anthony.”

“What?” asked Anthony whipping his head around.

He had been thinking about the book he was reading, and his attention had been wandering again.

Mr Pennington merely shook his head and smiled at his two youngest sons.

“I have been very lucky, I run a very successful business, and the good Lord has provided with not just one but four sons, and I am equally proud of all of you.”

“Two of my sons have expressed an interest in joining me in the business, but another two seem to be destined for greater things.”

“I know you Mark want to be a film star, and I have no problem with that. You don’t have to join the company if you don’t want to.”

“That just leaves you, Tony,” he said beaming at his son.

“What are you talking about?” asked Anthony confused.

He had always assumed that having finished his A-Levels, he was going to join the company like Nick and Simon.

“Oh, I know that you like books, there’s no doubt about that. But editing other people’s manuscripts would be a pure waste of potential.”

“I have met a lot of young writers over the last thirty years, and you’ve got the mind for it!”

“But it’s more than that, I think that when the time comes you should go to university.”

“University!” breathed Anthony hardly believing his ear’s.

Mr Pennington nodded again.

“As I said, you’ve got a great mind, and I don’t want you to waste it.”

Anthony got off the floor from where he had been leaning against Nick’s leg.

He gave his father the biggest hug he ever had.

“Steady on Tony,” he chuckled, “nothing’s going to happen for five years yet!”

“I know Dad,” said Anthony letting go of his Dad.

“You are the best Dad in the world!” he beamed.

“I’ll second that motion!” chuckled Simon, whilst Nick and Mark nodded in agreement.

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