Sedbergh Booktown Literary Trust

LOCKDOWN STORY COMPETITION

Judged by Graham Carlisle. Ex-Story Editor of Coronation Street.

And the Winner is………MARION SMITH with a story called ‘Some you Win’

The main street of Wigginthorpe was quiet, but the pavement was bright with the frosted snow glistening in the light of the general store and Post Office.  It was Christmas Eve and inside the Old Buck Inn the bar was crowded.  The subdued buzz of conversation was interspersed with bursts of laughter at shared jokes, except from the area round the dart board, where spectators’ glasses were frozen motionless in mid-lift as each player, eyes screwed in concentration, took their turn to throw.

With elbows resting on the bar counter stood two stern faced men, their heavy cleated boots and  tweed jackets topped by weatherworn hats.

“He’s late”.

Alf studied his watch for the third time since his arrival.

“Appen he’s not coming”.

Jack, the barman, glanced up at the ceiling. He was weary of waiting. “Are you here to watch other people sup or are you going to join them?”

Bert shifted his stance, but not his place at the bar, he looked resolute.

“Time costs nowt, we’ll wait”.

The door to the street opened and a draught of cold air percolated into the warm bar, making the fire sputter and spark.  The new arrival eased his way past the tables and joined Bert and Alf.

“Your turn, George, we’ve stood here long enough”. Alf was not known for his patience. “Tha’s got thee’sen well covered in snow,  was’t thou standing outside waiting for us to fill our own glasses?”

George ignored the remark as he shook several snow flakes off his coat. He inclined his head in Jack’s direction.

Jack grasped the pump handle and drew it towards him, coaxing an amber frothing stream into the waiting glasses, transforming into 2 pints of Partridges’ Light and 1 pint of Old Malted.  Three pairs of eyes watched the bubbles rise up, then merge into a creamy head.

George made no answer as he plunged his hand into his jacket pocket like a conjurer performing a trick.  He rummaged for his wallet, which inevitably took him some considerable time.

“I’ve no need to hold back, come next week I’ll be setting them up for the whole pub”.

Alf, Bert and Jack all regarded him incredulously.

“He’s mebbee slipped on’t ice and cracked hissen on the head” speculated Alf.

“Nay, lads, I’ve struck lucky, I got five numbers up on the Lottery and t’payout’s said to be £14,385.00.

“Well, well, it’s true then, much does get more”,  Bert audibly supped his beer, looking at George over the top of his glass.  “It’s news you had a flutter on’t Lottery, George, does your Missus know?”

“Aye, Lizzie puts it on for me, I’ve told her she gets enough each week from me to allow a quid for that, I just check the numbers, and this week they’ve nearly all come up”.

George put a hand deep into his pocket and produced a cigar, which he lit with a rather self conscious flourish.  Inhaling deeply, he nonchalantly directed a smoke ring in Jack’s direction.

“You can douse that now, George, £14,000 doesn’t put you above the law”.

Jack was normally inclined to turn a blind eye to the regulars lighting up, except on Wednesdays when Constable Blackledge paid his duty call to the village.  However, the aroma from George’s cigar was likely to attract attention.  Shrugging his shoulders George obediently extinguished the smouldering end, reasoning he could use it again elsewhere to demonstrate his new opulence.

The trio gazed across the bar counter into that corner of the snug where the ladies darts team were holding a practise match in preparation for the visit to the “Grouse” on New Year’s Eve for the second leg of the Ladies’ League.

George ogled appreciatively at Lottie Grimshaw’s skirt tightening over her buttocks as she leaned forward to take aim, her ample bosom wobbling beneath her silky blouse.  As the aroma of George’s now extinguished cigar began to disperse, the heavy perfume of Lottie’s Christmas present to herself floated over, mingling with the tang of the wood smoke and hop laden air.

“Aye, yon’s a grand lass, I’ve a mind to buy her a drink”.

Alf studied the comely group of ladies engrossed in honing their skills, fingernails manicured and varnished a fashionable black, a fortuitous choice for those whose hands by day were employed on farm duties.

“She’ll lose her concentration with your hot little eyes running over her”.

Bert was more forthright.

“Start tretting that lot and thee’ll have nobbut pence left out of your thousands of pounds”.

Bert, a dedicated bachelor, didn’t hold with ladies horning into men’s territory.

Each fell silent with his own thoughts, their gaze still riveted on the display of feminine charm at play in the snug.

Down the street in the Village Hall the WI were relishing their annual Christmas Supper, the laden table a testimony to the competitive culinary skills of the members.  Lizzie was revelling in a rare evening out and had indulged herself by buying three sheets of tickets for the raffle, the prize this year being a large basket of fruit.  Her friend Doris was astonished, Lizzie was noted for her parsimony, not surprising, given George’s reputation.

The draw took place after the supper.  The President, Mrs Pickles declared the result.

“The winning ticket belongs to Lizzie Thwaite.  Well done Lizzie, come and collect your prize”

“Felt lucky, did you Lizzie?” she asked.

“Well, I’ve used George’s lottery money, he never wins so I’ve stopped buying his ticket.  That basket of fruit will just make our Christmas.  I can’t wait to see George’s face”.

Marion Smith©