Jason and Keith joined Lucasta and Eleanor on the back veranda for tea. They were already talking nineteen-to-the-dozen as they sipped their tea.
When Jason and Eleanor Cumberledge had tea, she invariably used the bone china cups, and a cheap but well-loved china teapot. For his grandmother, Eleanor was still using the usual Wedgwood, but she had unearthed an exquisitely beautiful blue and white Spode teapot. Reassuringly, she had also brought out the worn Arnott's biscuit tin, and he felt a sudden prickle of tears as he realised how much Eleanor had come to mean to him. The familiar rituals of their almost daily tea times had made him feel at home, accepted, cared for, in a way he'd never felt with his parents. It felt odd and rather wonderful to have these two old ladies together.
“Keith and I have put your bags in your room, gran.”
“Thank you dear.”
“Keith, would you like some tea?” asked Eleanor. “And biscuits? There're some in the tin.”
She poured tea for Keith and passed him the milk jug and the biscuit tin.
“Jason, your usual?”
“Thank you, Eleanor, yes.”
“These biscuits are delicious, Mrs Cumberledge!” Keith was telling the truth.
“Thank you! I made them myself, from an old recipe.”
“Quite delicious, my dear. Perhaps you can give me the recipe before I leave shop-bought biscuits aren't a patch on the home-made kind.”
“W-e-l-l,” said Keith, “when I tried it once they came out of the oven blackened and hard as cement!”
Lucasta Ellesmere laughed. “My first biscuits were too,” she said. “Inedible!”
“You need lessons,” said Eleanor. “You must come round again sometime soon and I can show you how.”
“That'd be wonderful! I'd love that.” Keith meant it. He missed not having his parents in his life. Kindness from someone who could be his mother or grandmother made him feel that not having parents was endurable. In a way, Tom filled the rôle of father, but he had no one to take the place of his mother or his nan. He hadn't seen or spoken to his family since his father had thrown him out of home. He always said that they could all get fucked. But he missed those connections all the same.
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Episodes 1 to 220 (without pictures, 10 episodes per chapter)