The whole village was abuzz with excitement. Rumours had been circulating all week about when the announcement would be made, and now, finally, it seemed to have arrived. April May was there wrapped in her finest shawl, Mr and Mrs Doodleberry were stood waiting patiently, and even Old Man Winters had left the safety of his beloved garden shed to see what the commotion was about.
The mood was reaching fever pitch as the biggest names in Lower Winderton gathered outside of Miss Lavender’s Post Office. Eventually, Miss Lavender emerged from her shop and stepped out into the warm July morning. A hush fell over the crowd. The number 47 bus rolled into its stop, the driver turning off the engine and sticking his head out of the window for a better view. Across the road, Boris the daschund yapped eagerly.
Miss Lavender paid no attention to the expectant crowd. Setting down some potted plants, she continued as if they weren’t even there. Such composure, such poise. How did she remain so calm among this whirlwind of emotion?
“Is it today Miss?” came a voice from the crowd. “We heard it was today”, said another. “Please Miss Lavender”, a third voice chimed in, “I have been having trouble sleeping these last few nights. It is like Christmas. I can’t take it anymore.” Nods of approval rippled through the crowd. a murmur of agreement.
But Miss Lavender did not respond. Instead she slowly made her way back indoors, calmly flipping the sign on the entrance as she did so. The handful of voices began to grow into a chatter. Suddenly everyone wanted their feelings known. The gathered crowd began to edge forwards, determined to speak to the owner of the Post Office.
This couldn’t go on much longer, there would be a danger of a riot breaking out. Not since the infamous summer of ’03 had there been violence in the village. “Egg-custard-tart-Gate” as it was now known. They didn’t want a repeat of that anarchy. Poor Dave Wellington almost lost his glasses that day. No, we cant have that again. But emotions were rising and the crowd continued to creep forwards. Miss Lavender was playing with fire now. The whole village knew that she liked to live on the edge – this much was obvious, her complete disregard for coasters had seen her banned from many an afternoon tea session. This was something different though. This was a case of life and death. If she couldn’t pacify this angry mob of pensioners and divorcees, she would get torn limb from limb.
But wait. A shadow in the doorway. A deathly silence fell as once more Miss Lavender appeared. A roll of Sellotape lay wrapped around her left wrist and in her hand was a single sheet of paper. This was the moment they had been waiting for. The anxiety faded, the frustration dissolved, the sun seemed to beam even more strongly overhead. Eyes were now as wide as the turning curve of Miss Millers old Citroen. Everyone’s face flickered with a promise of a smile. The single sheet was held aloft for all to see and on it, in crisp golden lettering, were the words everyone had been waiting for.
Lower Winderton’s 125th Annual Talent Show. August 4th.
Jubilation swept through the crowd like one of Janet’s brooms in the Church after Sunday service. It was a wave of ecstasy unmatched by anything they had felt all year.
Nigel managed to bustle his way to the shopfront determined to get the first picture alongside this year’s poster. He faced little competition this summer as his main rival Edgar had to be moved to a care home at the end of February. A nasty fall had put a stop to his ambitions of silverware. Nevertheless, Nigel was taking no chances. He had pulled his son out of school especially for today’s festivities and armed him with a Nikon that was almost as old as he was.
By the time Miss Lavender had finished sticking the poster to the noticeboard, many in the crowd had already rushed home to practice their routines. No doubt Aunty Jules would be preparing Mittens for another round of tap-dancing and rumours swirled that the Fitzgerald twins were planning something even more ambitious than last year’s zimmer-frame acrobatics.
What a glorious occasion it was set to be. Just as the tour guides advertised, Lower Winderton was truly the greatest English village west of the M40.
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