“Have you heard what’s happened?” Lillian squealed excitedly, as she almost fell into the church shop in Charley Dale, her ginger hair blowing wildly around her face.

“No, what?” asked Meryl, looking up from the pile of clothes that she was pricing up.

“There’s been a body found amongst the trees leading up to the reservoir.”

“Oh my God,” said Meryl. “Who is it?”

“They don’t know,” said Lillian. “Or at least if they do know, they haven’t said.”

“Is it male or female?” asked Meryl.

“Not sure,” said Lillian. “You can’t tell these days anyway!”

Anna stood there looking startled. She was new to the area and to the church shop where she had found a niche for herself helping out. The woman who had just almost fallen unto the shop seemed utterly wild, and, to boot, as mad as a hatter. Indeed, Anna was soon to discover that Lillian was known as “The Madwoman of Charley Dale.”

Having dropped this bombshell, Lillian proceeded to rifle through all the clothes, pulling them off their hangers, then discarding them. By the time she had finished, the shop looked much the worse for wear, but Meryl tolerated it, with good humour, even though it meant that she would have to put everything back into order again once Lillian had left. And she left with about as much aplomb as she had entered.

“She’s very clever you know,” said Meryl. “She’s written a book. AND she’s been something big at the University. Been doing a Ph.D. but had problems with a Professor who became fixated on her, so she’s had to do it in fits and starts. Well, that’s what she says anyway. She’s so mad that no one ever knows when she’s telling the truth and when she’s not. Seems to live in a fantasy world much of the time. But they say there’s a fine line between brilliance and madness, and she’s certainly brilliant. I bet she shows you her book next time she comes in. She wrote it in her younger days and her picture is on the cover. She was gorgeous in those days, with that wonderful ginger hair all long and curly.”

“She’s quite the local celebrity then,” said Anna.

“Oh yes,” said Meryl. “But you certainly know when you’ve got her!”

“But what about this body?” said Anna. “I walk my dogs down there most days.”

“Well we’ll have to wait and see,” said Meryl. “It might be true or it might not be.”

The shop door then suddenly burst open, and a tiny but very well dressed woman came in, looking very self important.

“Hello Rita,” said Meryl.

“I’ve just seen Lillian,” said Rita. “She says a body has been found down near the reservoir.”

“Yes, she told us that,” said Meryl.

“Well do you think it’s true?” said Rita.

“You tell me,” said Meryl. “You know what she’s like. Mad as a hatter.”

“Yes,” said Rita. “She turned up at church one night. It was meant to be Evensong. But she insisted on saying the words for Morning Prayer, on account of the fact that it was morning SOMEWHERE in the world. We just let her get on with it and carried on with Evensong. The vicar’s about as mad as she is, so they make a right pair.”

Anna stood by, ready to try and help Meryl tidy up the shop again, wondering just what she had got herself into. At that point there was the sound of police cars going past in the direction of the reservoir.

“Oh dear,” said Meryl. “It looks as if it’s true.”


Taking life
To where they will
Strong soles holding on
Along rugged pathways
Onto the highest mountains
Alongside streams in greenest fields
Never giving up keeping going
Soon will be the time to rest satisfied

Sent from my iPad