Excitement in Agar Hall – Part I


It was now several months since Joyce had shared the news that she was expecting their first child with Rabbie.

To her great relief, he’d taken to the idea extremely well and, once the after-effects of his impromptu ‘celebration’  had worn off, he’d seemed to glow with pride and anticipation ever since.

Joyce, on the other hand, had not had an easy time of it, having frequently been laid low with morning sickness and fatigue.  And so it was not without some relief that she awoke one crisp autumn morning, shortly before her due date, with a feeling that things were about to happen.

By the time she’d summoned her sister Doris in order to ask her if she thought she might be about to go into labour, the question was somewhat redundant since Joyce’s loud and alarmingly frequent howls of pain said it all.

After uttering a few calm and reassuring words to Joyce, Doris turned and yelled to Rabbie, “Fetch a midwife – fast!’

Rabbie, however, was rooted to the spot.  His eye had been caught by a photograph of one of their nieces on Joyce’s dressing table.  The smiling face of a small baby and the distressed cries coming from the bed had suddenly overwhelmed him. This was it. He was about to become a father…

Rabbie’s moment of panic was swiftly interrupted as Doris shouted, “Rabbie, if you don’t get the midwife here sharpish you’ll be delivering this little one yourself!”  That did the trick. Rabbie was off like a shot.

With the arrival of the midwife, it seemed that Agar Hall, and indeed the whole of Grecondale, sprang into action.

In the kitchen, the Hall’s new cook Esther was busy boiling up a huge kettle of water as instructed by Nurse Nancy Harm; Grecondale’s resident nurse-cum-midwife. “Lots of hot water and towels please ladies!” she’d cried as she’d dashed through the room on her way to the attic bedroom where the stricken mother-to-be lay waiting.

“Come on, Pamela, look sharp, we’ll need that large jug on the left there,” she urged the equally new and, it had to be said, somewhat slow, maid.

News of the arrival of the midwife at Agar Hall had spread like wild fire and a gaggle of grannies quickly assembled in the members’ lounge.

With cook busy in the kitchen, and perhaps sensing an opportunity to sell a few more crucifixes, Dorcas and Kitty were making themselves useful by handing out tea and cake.

“Time was,” said Kitty, “we’d have sorted this our ourselves, wouldn’t we Dorcas?”  Dorcas nodded enthusiastically, “Indeed, ladies. Kitty and I have delivered more than a few little mites in our time I can tell you,” she said, nodding sagely.  “Yes,” said Kitty excitedly as she warmed to the subject, “Did we ever tell you about the time that young Una Murpy decided to give birth in the middle of half-nine Mass?”

Ophelia had had enough. With her niece’s anguished cries to be heard coming regularly now from the attic and with this witless wittering going on down here, she needed something stronger to drink than a cup of tea.

To be continued…

© 2017, Zoe. All rights reserved.

26 thoughts on “Excitement in Agar Hall – Part I

    1. Thanks, Valerie. The cliffhanger is largely a result of writer’s-fatigue: you wouldn’t believe how long it takes me to write these meagre offerings!

  1. Nice to see that Joyce and Rabbie have been getting their home cosier and cosier in spite of morning (or all-day) sickness. I love the “gaggle of grannies” too.

  2. Esther looks very smart and efficient (and strong, if she can lift that kettle!), but whatever has happened to the lovely Olwen Owens?

    Great story, and lovely pics!

    1. Thank you, Brooksey! Olwyn – well, in an unexpected turn of events, she upped sticks a few weeks ago and took up a position in Y Bwthyn Bach where she feels infinitely more at home, apparently…

    2. Ah, Bernard’s practice must be thriving if Rita is able to afford a housekeeper as well as Anne-Louise!

      1. It is, Brooksey and Rita, has even ventured into a bit of part-time book-keeping for him herself, which is why they decided to employ both Mrs Owens and Anne-Louise. Rita adores the children but she felt she needed to stretch herself a little and she’s never been very good in the kitchen.

    1. Thank you, Judy! Some photos take ages to set up and others, like that one, bring an extra something all by themselves!

    2. Hard to believe that he is the same Grecon who unflinchingly faced Queenie’s would-be assassin! How circumstance alters reaction!

      1. Yes, it seems to be emotional bravery that Rabbie has a problem with. Joyce is, of course, very well aware of that, given how long it took him to tell her how he felt about her in the first place. He also found it rather difficult to stand up to the arrogance and bullying of his one-time house-mate, Captain Richard Clutch. I think there’s a lot about Rabbie and where he came from that we’re not yet aware of.

  3. Grecon servants! So unreliable. I had to smile when I looked through these shots, how the lifestyle of these little dolls has progressed since the days of de Beever Hall.

  4. Lovely photos as always Zoe, so nice to have another story. And yes I’ve always wondered what they always need the water for..

  5. Everything looks beautiful and yes that kettle would scare off most maids, she has plenty of help fortunately, great photos Zoe.

    1. Thank you, Jan! Ha ha – that kettle! Yes, it’s a big one isn’t? But it does come in handy when they have social events and in emergencies such as this. The Britain’s (?) cooking pot next to it is even bigger. Luckily, the big Triang ranges can easily accommodate these larger pieces, though, as you and others have said, how on earth the staff manage is a different question…

  6. Nurse Harm? She sounds like a threat! Now I am worried. But I know what all the hot water is for. First it is used to make a big pot of tea and the remainder is left to get luke warm for washing mother and baby. Either that, or it is just a tradition that once had a reason now lost in time. Boiling kettles and jugs left around, though, could be dangerous.

    Seriously though, Zoe, lovely pictures and a very human story. It shows that most Grecons are not just woolly headed posers.

    1. Thank you, Maddy! Most (though not all) of my Grecons are fairly grounded. I suppose that might be due their HB having had limited exposure to very colourful characters…

      Nurse Harm is named after our next-door neighbour when I was a child. She was, or had been, some sort of nurse and strangely, the irony of her name never occurred to me until I first introduced her character to Grecondale. The next-door neighbour Mrs Harm was a lovely, kind lady who encouraged all of the children in the immediately adjacent streets to call around to her house twice a day. In the morning you could knock and ask “Please may I have a biscuit” and she gave you each biscuit (we were never invited into the house, we just stood on the doorstep) and then, in the afternoon you could knock and ask “Please may I have a sweetie” and we each got a boiled sweet. We always chimed “Thank you, Mrs Harm” afterwards. She and her husband didn’t have children and I think she just liked to have that little bit of interaction with them. She was also a Godsend to my mother when any of us had a minor accident in the house or while out playing. I’m not sure if children would be allowed to go and ask for biscuits and sweeties like that these days.

      Thank you for enlightening me regarding the water – I hadn’t thought of tea!

  7. Sorry, my post is late, but I’ve been in St Ives – ha ha m’dear – proper job! What a great story and photo gallery to return to – thank you, as always Zoe, lovely stories – so enjoyable – Grecondelightful!

    1. Thank you, Freda! I hope you had a nice time in St. Ives – I see you’ve been picking up the lingo down there too – proper job!

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