The Way We Lied

“Come on Caroline. Tell me all about it. Was it truly awful? Did you get the giggles or have you now signed up to become one of them?” Helen scraped the cream off her coffee cake and licked her spoon. “I expect you’ve converted secretly, haven’t you? Tell me. Tell me everything.”
“Why does everyone keep talking about converting,” Caroline said, frowning. “They were all absolutely lovely and very sweet to me.”
“Give you lots of jam, did they?”
“No, but they did give me a big bunch of flowers.” Caroline recalled the presentation and heard again the whispered message. “There was a very sweet little old lady. I think she must be their oldest member, and she presented me with some chrysanths. I wouldn’t say they are my favourite flowers, but it was a very kind thought.”
“That’s it then. They’ve definitely won you over. Once they roll out their oldest member to shake your hand they know they’ve got you firmly in their grasp! It will be twinsets and perms for you next!”
Caroline frowned again. She was not in the mood for Helen’s jokes today. Sometimes Helen could be just a little too flippant. And whereas she too had been inclined to joke about jam and Jerusalem previously, now she felt a fondness for the comforting rituals of fellowship and female society.
“Actually I think I know who your old lady might be,” said Helen, ignoring Caroline’s disapproving expression. “It’s Evelyn something or other. Evelyn Tinwell…. yes, I’m sure it’s Tinwell. She used to live in that little cottage near the Golden Lion.”
“Oh I know the house you mean. It’s got a lovely old-fashioned cottage garden, full of aquilegias and lavender.”
“That’s the one. I believe the garden was largely down to her. Apparently she was a great gardener in her day, but she moved to The Manor Retirement Home last year after a fall. She’d lived in that cottage for quite a long time, but I’ve also heard that she lived in some sort of artists’ commune years and years ago.”
“Wow. You are a mine of information today, Helen. How do you know all this?”
Her friend shrugged. “Through art therapy. You know how I do a class at the Manor, well I’ve got to know some of the residents there. I thought Evelyn Tinwell would be one of the ones most likely to take it up, with her arty background, but she doesn’t want to join in. One of the girls there told me she thought it was sinful! I ask you!”
Caroline laughed, although she was intrigued and really wanted to know more. “Sinful? What on earth were you suggesting they should paint? You surely weren’t doing a life class?”
“Heavens no. You know me. Strictly a still life girl me. It might have been a bowl of fruit. Maybe some plums and bananas – what’s suggestive about that?”
Then they both laughed, laughing till Caroline pulled out a tissue to wipe her eyes. “Honestly, Helen, you are the daftest person I know. You really are.”
“Only with you, Caroline. Simon doesn’t seem to appreciate my sense of humour very much these days.”


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