A Jolly Good Show – Episode 38

THE next morning Kate and Delia were enjoying a leisurely breakfast in their digs when Mrs Fiddler, their landlady, came bustling in. She held a small buff envelope in the finger and thumb of her left hand, as though she was looking for a bin to drop it in.

“It’s a telegram, Miss Desmond. For you. The lad’s just been.”

“Thank you, Mrs Fiddler.” Delia took the envelope. Mrs Fiddler hovered, gripping her apron as Delia opened it and took out the small slip of paper inside.

“Oh, lovely,” she said with a smile. She looked at Kate. “It’s from Sally.” She read, “Coming to see you stop Arrive station at midday stop. What a lovely surprise.”

Mrs Fiddler, much relieved, picked up a couple of empty plates and returned to the kitchen, muttering.

“It was the war, you see. All those awful telegrams.”

“Why don’t we meet her at the station?” Kate suggested.

“That would be nice,” Delia agreed. “We could have lunch at the Woolsack. I don’t know how long Sally will have.”

The train from Manchester pulled into platform two of Huddersfield Central station at 11.57 a.m. and as the clouds of steam whisked away on a stiff breeze, Kate and Delia saw Sally standing beside two suitcases. They looked at each other, then hurried to greet


Hugs and kisses were exchanged, then Sally said, “I’m back. I’ve left the show for good.”

“We rather guessed that,” Delia said. “Look, let’s put your cases in the left luggage office and have some lunch. There’s a nice pub nearby, and we can catch up.”

So, over soup, salmon and pudding, Sally gave a full and frank account of her experiences.

“At the end, the management and I parted on amicable terms. They thanked me. I thanked them. Then we said our goodbyes.”

“It was your bad luck to run into Clarice Dupont,” Kate said ruefully.

Sally shook her head.

“No, Kate, no. I’ve thought about it. It wasn’t Clarice, unpleasant as she was. It was me. I had my chance and I wasn’t good enough.”

As her two friends began to protest, Sally insisted.

“No, it’s true. Clarice was right I twinkled, just twinkled. Not a nice way to put it, but there isn’t a nice way, is there? But I’d decided I didn’t want to be another Clarice Dupont, always insecure, playing the grand dame and terrified of growing older.” Sally shrugged her shoulders. “And the show will be closing soon anyway, so she’ll be in a panic looking for a new starring role somewhere. And I’ll have to look for something, too.”

“The first thing we’ll do,” Delia said, “is see if our landlady, Mrs Fiddler, will take in a little waif. I’m sure she will. Then, of course, you must come to the theatre tonight and see everyone. We need cheering up and everyone will be so pleased to see you.”

“Will they?” Sally said doubtfully.

“Of course,” Delia said.

“Some especially,” Kate agreed with a knowing smile.

A little colour came to Sally’s cheeks.

“That would be nice. I’ve missed everyone so much. Even Nesbo, who always frightened me a bit.” She paused and bit her lip.

“The only person I’m not looking forward to seeing is Will Griffiths.”

Kate and Delia looked at each other in surprise.

Sally went on.

“You see, he helped me so much. He was responsible for getting me my chance. And I’ve let him down. I don’t know what to say to him.”


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