New Members and Old Members
20th July 1955,
How are you?
I hope you and your Uncle David are having a nice holiday.
I’ve hardly seen Mark and Julie all month. They’ve been to the cinema nearly every day watching their favourite film stars. I think they’re trying to make up for all the shows they can’t go and see over the school year.
Nick got his exam results a few days ago, unsurprisingly he's passed all his A-Levels with flying colours, as we all knew he would.
Mrs Brown has started acting a bit strange. She’s probably just tired, she’s got to be seventy if she’s a day.
Simon and Celia arrived yesterday evening and are going to be staying for a month. They’re all settled into their new flat and Simon loves his new job. Simon’s going to be commuting into work with Dad every few days, but Celia is going to stay here.
They should still be here when you come in a few weeks and Cels is looking forward to seeing you.
I’ve started reading Vergil’s Aeneid, not in the original Latin of course, but it’s still good. My favourite part of the day though is writing to you. It’s the first thing I do after getting up in the morning. And when I walk the fifteen minutes down to the village, come rain or shine, I always think of you and wonder what you’re getting up to.
Love always, your Anthony.
“Tony!” called Nick out in the corridor.
“Hmmm,” muttered Anthony looking up from writing the address.
“Breakfast,” he said poking his head around the door.
“I’m coming,” muttered Anthony hopping down from his usual shelf in the linen cupboard.
“I know I’ve asked you this fifty times,” sighed Nick as they went downstairs.
“But why the linen cupboard?”
“It’s quiet, I get left alone, and it’s surprisingly comfortable.”
“Suit yourself, little brother,” chuckled Nick ruffling his brother’s hair. This was difficult, as now Anthony and Mark were taller than Nick.
Whereas Nick and Simon had stopped growing at six-foot, Mark and Anthony were still growing!
“You can’t call him little brother anymore,” chuckled Mark, “for although he might be younger than you, he’s taller.”
“If anyone’s the little brother now it's you, Nick,” chortled Simon.
“Boys!” muttered Mr Pennington exasperatedly.
Even though his sons were grown up, Simon was nearly twenty, and Nick had just turned eighteen, this hadn’t stopped any of them from arguing.
Anthony sat down next to Celia at the breakfast table and tucked in eagerly to his breakfast.
Anthony had a fairly rigid routine, wake up, get up, write to Athene, have breakfast, walk to post office, study until lunch, lunch, piano practise, read, dinner, spend time with family, read, bed.
Anthony noticed that Celia was just pushing her own breakfast around her plate, which was strange as Celia had never been one to waste food.
Mrs Brown was also looking particularly old today, she had huge shadows under her eyes like she hadn’t slept well. She also seemed to look thoroughly miserable about something.
Anthony looked around the table and noticed that none of the others had noticed that anything was wrong with either Mrs Brown or Celia, apart from Simon that is.
“Eat up Cels,” he said gently, “you’ve got to keep your strength up.”
“I’m not hungry,” she muttered quietly, “maybe I’ll eat something later.”
“Is there something up?” asked Anthony looking at Celia and Simon nervously.
“We’re going to have to tell them at some point,” muttered Celia.
Simon nodded slightly, and Simon coughed his throat to get everyone’s attention.
“Hem hem!” he coughed.
“Cels and I have an announcement to make,” said Simon.
They both beamed at each other.
“We’re going to have a baby!” said Celia her face lighting up.
Mark spat out the orange juice he was halfway through drinking and nearly choked.
Mr Pennington had to pat Mark on his back to stop him from choking too badly.
“What was that Si?” asked Nick checking he hadn’t misheard things.
“We’re going to be having a baby,” said Simon.
“That’s why I’m not eating my breakfast Anthony,” Celia explained, “morning sickness.”
“We were going to wait to tell you all until Athene got here,” said Simon, “she’s basically part of the family after all.”
“When are you expecting?” asked Mrs Brown.
“Late December or early January.”
“Did you two do some messing around before the wedding?” asked Mark grinning mischievously.
Nick gave his brother a firm jab in the ribs, and Mark grimaced.
“Have you never heard of a honeymoon baby you idiot!” spat Nick.
“Sorry,” said Mark massaging his stomach slightly.
“It’s ok Marky,” chuckled Simon.
“Whilst we’re talking about news, I have some big news myself,” said Mrs Brown.
She looked thoroughly miserable and had the air of someone who wanted to get the worst over with.
“This is going to be my last Summer with you.”
“What?” stammered Mark.
There was a ringing clang as Anthony dropped the knife he had been using to cut his toast.
Mr Pennington nodded, he and Mrs Brown had already discussed all this.
“I’m going to be seventy next May, and I will be retiring then, I’ll still be here for next Christmas and Easter, but by next Summer Mr Pennington will have found a replacement.”
“You’re leaving!” exclaimed Nick.
“But you can’t leave!” protested Simon.
“Hell, you’ve been with this family longer than I have!”
It was true, Mrs Brown had been hired to help Mrs Pennington with the housework when she was pregnant with Simon.
It was a big house, and their mother had been worried that she would be able to do all the cooking and the cleaning and look after a baby, so they had hired a housekeeper. This had been just over twenty years ago.
Anthony’s mouth was still hanging open slightly as he listened to all this. Simon and Celia expecting a baby was big news in itself, but that on top of Mrs Brown retiring! So much had changed just during the course of breakfast.
As Anthony headed down to the village to the post office, Anthony realised that Athene’s letter for tomorrow had already written itself, and it wasn’t even nine o’clock yet!