Clock Struck One
“I don’t like one o’clock,” said Clock. “It’s boring. All I can say is ‘bing’.
Two o’clock is better because I can say ‘bing bong.’ And then it gets better hour by hour.”
“Yes,” agreed Stumpy, “but isn’t it fun doing it in a new house?”
“Yeah, like it’s cool man!” trilled Skinny Vase with one long, thick leg.
“Harrumph,” muttered Poker from the fireplace, rubbing his aching back. “It’s not as good as our first place. For a start, there’s too much central heating, so I don’t get the exercise I need.”
Sofa yawned and then said, “But that place began years ago when Granny Annie was just a little girl. And we …”
At that moment, Door interrupted, saying, “Shush – there’s someone coming,” and opened to let in Granny Annie who looked around at them all, grinned, sat down in Armchair and began to read her newspaper. Every now and again she lowered the paper to peep at them all but not one so much as twitched.
After a while her eyelids drooped, and she fell asleep as she often did during the afternoon.
Stumpy scuttled across the carpet and, being a well-preserved low stool with short, stumpy legs and a blue leather top edged with brass tacks, which you could lift to put things in, eased himself gently under her feet. Granny Annie sighed softly and smiled in her sleep.
“Does he do that often?” asked Door.
“Of course, he does. It’s his job,” explained Yellow Vase. “But you are new to the group, aren’t you? Old Door stayed behind when we moved into this new house last month.”
“Well, I for one, like, preferred our old living room, like, it was really cool,” said Skinny Vase crossly. “It was bigger and more, like, well, home you know. Like my big sister used to be so important there, like before she got broken.”
There was a muffled groan from Sofa. “Why don’t you stop going on about your big sister?” it asked.
“And anyway, she didn’t have a white horse and a rose engraved on her bowl, so why do you?”
“Well, really, like, she was still, like, so important. Lord Stumble always thought she was really, like, dishy,” huffed Skinny Vase, wobbling with indignation on her thick leg. “Her leg was thinner than mine though she was bigger, like, round the bowl.”
“Yes, that’s why we called her Fat Vase,” said Stumpy. “Perhaps we should call you Horse Vase – your voice is hoarse enough!”
Just at that moment the front doorbell chimed. Granny Annie woke up with a start, as if wondering why she wasn’t still asleep. All the things in the room were still. Then the front doorbell chimed again. Granny Annie took her feet from Stumpy’s back, stood up, stretched and then looked at him in a puzzled way.
“I don’t remember putting you there. Have you been up to your old tricks again?” she asked as she went out of the room leaving Door ajar behind her.
The things heard her open the front door, followed by excited voices.
“Hello, Granny. Mummy said we should come round to see you, and we’ve brought some chocolate biscuits for you. And …”
“Alright, my loves. Come on in and tell me all about it in the living room,” said Granny Annie.
A moment later she came back into the room followed by a girl and a boy, both about nine years old. The girl was carrying a shopping bag and the boy a plastic bottle of orangeade.
“Right, now you terrible twins, sit you down on the sofa and tell me. You first, Alisdair,” commanded Granny Annie, “and then April.”
“Mummy and Daddy are ever so busy just now,” said Alisdair, “because it’s harvest time and Daddy’s still got all that paper to do for different and …”
“DEFRA,” interrupted April. “It’s DEFRA, not different, what Daddy calls a load of pen pushing fruit cakes.”
“Anyway, Mum said to ask you if it would be alright if we stayed for the afternoon,” finished Alisdair, eyeing the chocolate biscuits. “Cousin Elly’s out giving dance classes.”
April got up from the sofa, suddenly looking serious, and went over to stand next to Granny Annie.
“Mummy told me to tell you that Sir Stumble will be coming round to see you this afternoon, too,” she said, then scratched her head and added, “Why is he a sir, Granny?”
Granny Annie laughed before replying, “Sir Stumble is Lord Stumble’s youngest son. He left most of his estate to the oldest boy – the one who is not the new Lord Stumble – but left the two farms to the youngest boy, the one who is now a Member of Parliament and who was knighted last year despite quite a lot of bad publicity in the press.” Granny Annie pursed her lips and looked rather put out before adding, “I wonder why he wants to see me?” Then she looked happier and said, “Anyway, thank you for the messages, and now let’s go and play in the garden to work up an appetite for those chocolate biscuits and orange juice. By the way, leave your smart phones here on the table – I don’t want our games interrupted.”