There’s Always Tomorrow – Episode 32

The main characters from the story Illustration: Sailesh Thakrar

With one problem solved, another reared its head in Lorna’s mind.

In the emergency, she had rushed for her car and left the shop unlocked. It was unlikely that Wullie would have thought to lock it.

Even if they had, the shop keys were in her bag. Throughout the trip back, she fidgeted, desperate to return to make sure everything was OK.

Wullie was a surprisingly safe and steady driver, but took twice as long to make the return trip as Lorna had taken on her emergency dash.

When he stopped outside the shop, her worst fears were realised.

The shop door was open and, even as she watched, a woman came out of it carrying a plastic bag full of tins.

“Well,” Wullie began. “It looks like they’ve been busy while ye were away.”

He didn’t sound surprised or in the least bit angry.

“She could be one of many,” Lorna said tightly.

But she controlled her sense of outrage and didn’t leap from the car to confront the woman, who had the cheek to nod pleasantly as she passed.

When Lorna hurried into the shop, it was to find it full of women.

There were two behind the counter, one more helping herself to a
much-diminished stack of tins, and a fourth coming through from the kitchen with tea and scones.

They were certainly making themselves at home, Lorna thought bitterly.

The shelves were almost empty and, as she winced, yet another woman came through with a bag full of scones from the freezer.

“Oh, you’re back,” the one with the tea said. “How’s Betty?”

Lorna swallowed.

“She seems to be doing quite well. She was talking normally when I last saw her. What’s happening here?”

“We’re helping out,” the woman said cheerfully. “I’m Linda. That’s Janet and Elsie doing their best behind the counter.

“Donna’s the one who’s just bought a bag of scones. The wifie at the shelves is Fiona, but she’s been called Wee Fifi since she was at school.”

Then, as an afterthought, she said, “Do you want a cup of tea yourself?”

“Coffee, please,” Lorna replied.

“Ach, that’s stewed black. Naebody drinks coffee here. I’ll make ye a nice cup of tea. What about a slice of cake?”

Relief flooded through Lorna.

“Yes, to the tea. No, thanks, to the cake. I’m fair scunnered wi’ cake.”

Linda looked surprised.

“We thought ye were English,” she said.

“I am.” Lorna laughed, feeling a little as if she had entered some parallel universe.

“Then how dae ye know a guid Scots word like ‘scunnered’?”

Lorna smiled.

“I’ve had a good teacher.”


“Aye,” Lorna said, suddenly feeling bilingual.

Linda looked disparagingly at the scones.

“I can give ye a better recipe,” she stated. “It was my mither’s.”

“Isa’s going to do that for the cake,” Lorna returned.

“Dinnae touch it,” Linda urged. “My mither’s a better baker than hers. But see if ye can get her recipe for stovies – she does the best stovies in Auchencairn.”

“What are stovies?” Lorna asked helplessly.

“Here’s yer car keys,” Wullie interrupted, entering the shop. “I parked it round at the back of your house. Who’s making stovies?”

“Nobody,” Linda replied. “Not yet. But if we get Isa’s recipe, we can make them here in the shop. That would bring the village in.”

She bustled through to make Lorna a cup of tea.

“They’ve been helping,” Lorna said, shrugging. “Everybody in the village.”

“No’ everybody,” Wullie corrected her. “Just the ones I put a flea in the ear of.”

“You did what?” Lorna asked, bewildered.

Wullie sighed.

“Why don’t you learn English?” he said. “Can I have a cup o’ tea, too?”

To be continued…

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