We were all gathered around the little pot bellied stove, myself, Mrs Blacker and Mrs De la Pole, when Old Blaster comes roaring in blustering like an exploding grenade, hot air erupting from all available orifices, a sure sign of something of outstanding gossip-worthiness. I pulled up a chair for him to fall into whilst Mrs Blacker added an extra slug of brandy to his hot chocolate and Mrs De La Pole wafted an eau de cologne scented lace edge handkerchief. Once the situation had calmed a little bit and Old Blaster had got his breathing under control we all drew our rickety old chairs closer in order to hear, in intimate detail, what was causing Old Blaster to get so excited.
By now the shop was filling up with villagers, and we were all waiting.................... Old Blaster began, " Longshot manor has been sold" he blurted out, spraying spittle from the corners of his mouth. Well this was news to us, how on earth had it been kept so quiet, usually the village gossips, of which l am not one, can smell a rumour before it has actually happened. Old Blaster continued as we by now holding our breath and clasping the edge of our chairs, " It has been bought by a polo playing entrepreneur from up north somewhere. He has made millions in the fish and chip business". Silence. No one made a sound, you could hear the clock ticking slowly in the background... suddenly there was a sharp intake of breath followed by the sucking in on false teeth and then whoosh, everyone was talking at once like a flock of geese flying in formation. Who is it? He's from where? Ergh?
By now Old Blaster had risen to the occasion, a captive audience, a rare event nowadays indeed. The new owner had bought, sight unseen from the previous incumbent on meeting with her son in St Morritz a few weeks ago at an ice polo match. The new owner a Mr Oily-Clarke, apparently well known in the polo world having been featured in gossip columns escorting numerous super models and fathering many children, all of whom lived with him, and were part of, according the the Prattler, his entourage. Mr O-C, so we were informed by Old Blaster, who was settling comfortably into his role as storyteller, held himself in very high esteem, with a full PR Team churning out fabulous features about him and his family. Myself and the villagers were stunned.
What on earth was happening to our haven of piece and quiet amidst the turmoil of the outside world? As old Blaster came to the end of the 'known' facts, we sat there, Mrs Blacker brewed up a large pot of hot chocolate to which she added a good bottle of damson gin........