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Chapter 25. Oh Er Vicar

The next few days simply raced by.
On Sunday afternoon, I went around to mum's so that we could have a gossip about all that had happened in the fashion show.
Mum was, of course, absolutely thrilled by the success of the auction.
Well, I said, Cancer Research will be delighted and the news is bound to make the Cornish Times and the Western Morning Gazette, if not the Plymouth Herald as well!
Then we discussed how surprised we had been on meeting Margery Lillycrap, agreeing that she hadn't been quite the dragon we had been expecting.
Mum was stunned when I told her of Matt's deceleration of undying love.
It must have been a tough call, Eva, she said. I mean, Spats is lovely, you know how fond I am of him, but Matt, well, he is rather gorgeous, isn't he?
She told me that the twins had driven around to her house for a quick visit before heading back to Exeter. Apparently, Matt was in the back of the limo getting some sleep.
The twins had persuaded Matt that his talents as a dancer really needed to be showcased and that he should travel up to London and work with them at the club.
Matt hadn't seemed all that enthusiastic at first and the twins had been curious as to what was keeping him down here in Penswithian.
I guess nothing really, Matt had realised. His dad now had Betty, he had lost his job as one of the Barnacles bouncers, and except for his scaffolding mates, who he would miss, there really wasn't anything keeping him in Penswithian.
The twins had also revealed to mum how Matt had told them that he was trying to deal with the loss of a great love, so they had advised Matt that perhaps putting some distance between himself and the object of his desire, would actually help in the healing process.
Oh dear, I felt very sad for Matt, hopefully, his father had been right in predicting that Matt was an incurable romantic who would, in time, find a new object of adoration. One thing I knew for certain, was that leaving Penswithian and heading up to dance in 'Edge London' was just the sort of experience he now needed and I didn't doubt that the twins would do their utmost to keep him busy and entertained.
We then had a good old laugh about Sacha's fall from grace, even though neither of us had been lucky enough to bear witness to the full spectacle. I also took this opportunity to compliment mum on her quick thinking at the time of the incident.
You were a total star striding out there and leading Sacha off the stage, I said, and what's more, you looked fabulous in your shimmering gold dress.
Mum admitted that she had quite enjoyed her moment in the spotlight.
Do you think she really suffered any breakages or sprains? I asked.
Mum felt fairly confident that the girl was absolutely fine and had just been playing to the gallery.
We both wanted this to be the case, only because Sacha was the sort of woman who, given the opportunity, would thoroughly enjoy suing either the Ganja, or me personally, for injuries.
Then mum suddenly remembered, with a look of glee, that the twins had imparted yet more gossip during their brief visit.
One of the other men from the fashion show, who had gone to Barnacles to perform their routine, had got entirely carried away with all the attention. To the great amusement and hilarity of the clapping and jeering crowd, he had suddenly decided to do a full Monty and strip naked. The other guys had hurriedly left the stage at this point, whilst this Dave, that's what the twins said they think he was called, just wouldn't stop and carried on the routine totally starkers, until one of the bouncers had had to get up on stage and drag him off.
Oh dear, I wondered how well Dave's flamboyant performance had gone down with Zoe.
Not that well, I later found out, and their relationship was currently undergoing a cooling off period.
Don't be too harsh Zoe, I urged, Dave was very drunk at the time.
Zoe said that she had forgiven him for getting naked, the problem was that he had then spent the next few days speculating on whether to give up his day job as a vicar and instead, see if the other guys wanted to form a male strip act. Joey was mulling the idea over, but Roy was definitely out as he couldn't think of anything more unappealing than exposing his body for the scrutiny of a crowd of baying women. Matt, of course, had already left for the great metropolis with Vinyl Booty.
Monday was spent getting 'Tres a la Mode' back in order and welcoming the flood of customers who had turned up to try on some of the outfits featured in the show. By the end of the day, I had taken more money in the shop than I had in the previous month.
Most of the women who came in told me how much they had enjoyed the evening and expressed how wonderful it had been to watch the men dancing. Some enquired after Matt and wanted to know where I had discovered him and where he could generally be found out and about in Penswithian. When I then told them that he had now left for the bright lights of the big city, they could only express what an incredible shame that was.
After I had returned from mum's on Sunday, Spats reaction had been quite the opposite, and he had remarked that at least now he wasn't going to have to hunt Matt down and insist on a duel. He was joking of course, or I think so anyway.
Although Spats occasionally enjoys getting out an old antique firearm he keeps in his safe and cleaning it every now and then, the chances that it could still be fired were highly unlikely and I hadn't seen any bullets, so that was a good thing.
A few of the customers asked after the girl who had fallen over, but I could tell that their inquiries were more out of curiosity than concern.
One of the women who came in the shop said that her friend, who was a nurse up at the hospital, had told her what a laugh they had all had in A&E on Saturday evening when this woman with a gold face, yellow lipstick, one false eyelash and mad crazy hair, had been briefly admitted. However, once the doctor had ascertained that the patient was not suffering some kind of psychotic episode and did not need to stay in overnight for observation, she was sent home. Physically, she had suffered no more than a few bruises.
Flo also came in to reveal how much she and Nelson had made in their raffle for Animal Rescue, which was a very respectable one-hundred and five pounds and fifty-seven pence.
After accounting for the cost of hiring the Ganja, make-up and hair products, I calculated that we had raised nearly five hundred pounds for the NSPCC, so, not a bad nights work!
At the end of the day, I rang Margery to find out when it would be best to come in and pay the three hundred pounds hire charge.
Just for old times sake, I once again waited until she picked up the telephone and then asked her if it was Mrs Crap with whom I was talking, to which she replied, that indeed it was, and enquired whether she was now speaking to Mrs Grownpetti.
However, despite our initially humorous exchange, Margery was feeling extremely deflated.
The powers that be from the Arts Council funding committee, were once again threatening closure of the Ganja, probably within weeks, and even though she had mentioned that they had just had a sell-out night of dramatic arts, (her own spin on what she was actually referring to, which was my fashion show), they had still seemed hell-bent on shutting the premises down.
Even the mention that on the very same night they had taken a record nine hundred pounds on the bar, had cut no mustard with them.
This was sad news indeed. With our new found borderline friendship and mutual respect, I did feel sorry that Margery was now going to have to dig out her CV and venture out into the increasingly demoralising world of job hunting.
Then suddenly it was Tuesday and we would get to see what the papers had to say.

Chapter 26. Hold The Front Page!

An article had already been pressed by the Evening Country Gazette on Monday night, featuring a front-page spread of the twins arrival outside the theatre. There was a picture of the girl's as they emerged from the limo, under the heading,
Their purpose for the visit and the impromptu gig at Barnacles gave the Gazette plenty to write about. The fashion show was covered in just two brief lines, but 'Tres a la Mode' had got a mention, so I was happy enough with that.
Tuesday, though, would be the release of the Cornish Times and we had been promised a decent sized spread fully illustrated with photographs.
Mum and I spent that lunchtime poring over the paper and exulting in the fact that the show had managed to dominate not one, but three full pages.
Again the arrival of the twins had dominated the front page with the even worse headline,
There was a lot of copy emphasising how the, now famous, girls were Penswithian's born and bred, along with a picture of them both arriving outside the Ganja and a colourful one of them behind the decks down at Barnacles. Matt was simply a swirling blur in front and luckily Dave hadn't yet taken his kit off.
Although Dave's exhibitionism did get a mention of its own, on page three, where a quarter page covered the story.
Had been the chosen headline for this story, and after reading it, I felt that maybe a career as a stripper was the only option left open to Dave. There weren't any pictures, as the Cornish Times didn't go in for that sort of thing, but it was an article heavily laced in ridicule and ending with the question, “ Was this behaviour, in any way fitting for a man of the cloth... The lack of cloth being the problem”. Which I thought, considering it was our local rag, was actually quite funny.
The auction of mums painting had stolen page two, although that didn't matter as it was still all about the show.
There was a photograph of the painting and an archive photograph of mum, which she absolutely hated.
Why, she wanted to know, do they always manage to dig up the worst photograph you have ever had taken?
There was also a photograph of Pridine Campelot which must have been downloaded from the internet to provide a visual image for what, the paper had described as, “billionaire owner of international gallery chain, the Existential”.
According to the Times, Pridine had flown in on his private jet, which had then landed in the centre of the local rugby grounds. The hammer was just about to come down on the painting, when Mr Campelot burst in through the Ganja doors waving his two thousand pounds in the air and securing the winning bid.
Then it went on to comment, that although the upside of the wealthy gallery owners intervention had raised an impressive donation for charity, a local man, who only recently received the all clear on his own cancer, had had to leave disappointed and empty-handed.
The papers speculation was that, the bigwig who had flown in from the city was, probably, going to be selling the painting on to a second buyer for a good few thousand more than his purchase price, and that it would almost certainly end up adorning the walls of some famous celebrities house, possibly David Beckham or Elton John.
Of course, Pridine was not a billionaire, hadn't arrived in a private jet, which couldn't have possibly landed in a rugby field, especially as he had not actually arrived at all. Still, never let truth get in the way of a good story, I always say.
It's certainly enhanced your profile as an artist mum, I remarked, sticking a picture up for auction was a canny move.
Her huffy reply was that there had been nothing, canny, about it, she had just wanted to help raise money for a very worthy cause.
Although Dave's strip had taken a quarter of page three from us, the remainder of the page was all about the show.
There was a photograph which had been taken just before the show commenced, with Justin standing in the centre and four models either side of him. Their hair and make-up looked beyond insane. The quality of the photo was, as it always is with the Cornish Times, extremely poor. It had been badly printed in colour and at first glance, the girls did indeed look like a line of transvestites about to enter a competition for the most outrageous contestant... With Justin, as the judge.
Under this picture was the caption, 'New man in town and owner of 'A Cut Above', Justin Barnet, shows off his crazy creations at fashion show'.
Barnet, I thought, fancy that!
I wasn't sure whether this comment would please Justin or not.
There was another very blurry picture of Matt dancing, although this was excusable under the circumstances, considering the speed at which he was probably spinning at that moment. This had the caption, 'It's our man, Matt, breaking bad in his dance for charity'.
Then horror of all horrors!
I found myself confronted by the truly appalling image of me running up to the front of the stage, arms waving in the air, looking totally deranged, with wild unruly hair, due to having rammed on the Lycra top and then forgetting to give my hair a quick brush.
I'm sure the velvet designer yoga pants made my thighs look far meatier than they are and they certainly didn't look right with the red and gold platforms.
Oh, mum! How will I ever live this down?
Even she couldn't muster up a decent lie and bring herself to pretend that the photo of me was anything other than dreadful.
Don't worry Eva, just remember the old saying, 'Today's paper is tomorrow's chip-wrapping'.
This quote did nothing to improve the situation and I felt obliged to explain to her that chips were no longer sold packed in old newspaper as it was against health and safety and altogether frowned upon, in this day and age. Worst of all, the Cornish Times was not a daily, it would be on the shelves for a week!
Well, the photographs are all a travesty, what then of the article!
Last Saturday night the owner of 'Tres a la Mode' boutique, on Church Street, Eva Pettigrown, held a sell-out fashion show at the Ganja Theatre (see page four, 'Ganja under threat of closure following fashion show').
The rather demure outfits didn't quite match the 'Rocky Horror Show' hair and make-up, and the men dancing at the back of the stage may have proved too much of a distraction for most of the audience, who seemed far more entertained by hunky local man Matt's solo routines.
Apart from a dramatic accident, when one of the models fell off stage (see page five), the show went smoothly and the bevvy of local beauties who shimmied out onto the catwalk proved that Penswithian girls have got what it takes.
We don't as yet know the final amount raised for Charity (see next week's paper), although 'Tres a la Mode' owner and organiser of the event, Ms Petigrown, told me that the sum was certainly going to be up there in the hundreds (see also article, page two,'Local artist Constance Pettigrew raises two thousand for Cancer Research).
The unexpected arrival, minutes before the show, of the famed twin duo DJing act, 'Vinyl Booty', almost caused a riot as over two hundred school girl's fought for a 'Selfie' with the twins.
These two local girls made good, and now internationally famous, certainly added to the night and everyone left feeling that they had got their money's worth.
When our intrepid reporter finally fought his way through the crowd to ask the twins why they had come all this way back down to Penwithian to see the show, they had replied that Penswithian was simply the coolest place on earth and that they just wanted to catch up with family.
I seriously doubted that the twins had called Penswithian, the coolest place on earth, unless they had meant, bloody cold, but no matter.
Their grandmother, Constance Pettigrew (see page two), and aunt Eva Pettigrew, when asked for their reaction to this star turn arriving at the last minute, they said that they had been left utterly speechless.
Neither mum, or I, recall having been approached by a reporter at any time during the evening, so I guess, saying that we had been utterly speechless was, literally, true.
One-eyed cat Nelson won the heart's of the audience when he made a brief appearance on the catwalk and later assisted in the raffle for the 'Cats Rescue Centre' where his recently widowed owner, Flora Penberthy (see obituaries archive), had saved his life, just hours before he was going to be put down.
Police attributed a fight outside the Barnacles nightclub later that night, between some scaffolders and local rugby players, to ill will that had been building up between the two factions in relation to the fashion show. We cannot at this stage verify whether this is the case, although we speculate the likelihood of the connection on page six (see... Scaffolders and Ruggers fight it out over fit models).
Page five featured a photograph of Sacha sitting in a wheelchair looking forlornly at the camera, headlined,
Apparently, Sasha's vocation as one of the countries top contemporary dancers was in ruins after the inadequate health and safety standards, and a giant black rat, running across the catwalk at the Ganja, had caused her to topple whilst in the middle of wowing the crowd with a pirouette. Sacha had suffered severe leg injuries that would now prevent her from taking the leading role she had been offered in the Broadway musical, 'Cats'.
Eva Pettigrown, who was responsible for the show, failed to take action when her model fell to the stage in agony. However, local artist, Constance Pettigrew (see page two), valiantly took to the catwalk, helped Sacha Von Twinface from the stage and immediately called the local ambulance crew, who took over two crucial minutes to turn up (See page seven, NHS cutbacks could put lives at risk as local government plan to retain only one ambulance to cover entire County).
Sacha is now making slow and steady progress as she recovers from her ordeal and an intensive course of physiotherapy has been advised if she is ever to dance again.
Mum and I agreed that it was psychotherapy, not physiotherapy, that Sacha needed most.
Well, you wanted press coverage and we certainly got it! She said.

The Ganja theatre's future still hangs in the balance but, to date, Margery and Yorik, the in-house technician, still have their jobs.
Margery also stopped being Crap and is now Mrs Stephens.
An online petition has been set up to 'Save the Ganga'.
Matt is currently lodging in East London with the twins and their friend Rocksy. He can be seen most nights performing his break-dancing in front of 'Vinyl Booty' at 'Edge London'.
Sacha became bored performing art with her boyfriend, and left Penswithian for good. No one was sad to see her go.
Dave gave up being a vicar, formed a male strip group and is now touring the South West, where and when he is hired to perform. Not with either Joey or Dave though.
Zoe ended their relationship.
The Ukulele group are still hoping for a paid booking and Zoe has already knitted several outfits for Dave and Jackie's baby, due just before Christmas.
Patrick, Kelly's dad, married Betty.
(I heard that Matt came down for the wedding with Rocksy).
Kerry is going out with Ricky, one of Matt's scaffolding mates.
'A Cut Above' didn't gain any extra clientèle from their involvement in the show and has relocated to smaller premises five doors up from Simon Snipets salon.
However, Justin Barnet and his right-hand man Levi married a few months later. Justin's mate Greg (the one who does make up for film and telly), was best man.
Oh, and in case you're wondering...
One of Dave's old congregation won the free-range eggs and another got the crabs.

For more background to some of the characters and events pertained to in this novel please read the author's debut novel, Hungary For Love.