Violet came back from London. Her little grey car sputtered its way back into the village at about teatime. Never a good time to arrive since the thirteen households that line the single lane were probably all inside eating cake. There’s a lot of cake about in Popwell. Nothing fancy you understand, but rather the kind of slices that calm flighty bloodsugars and provide fuel to get the villagers through the next few hours. A good ginger loaf might be the thing.
So poor Violet arrived to firmly shut doors and no cheery waves. It made her feel a little sad and she emitted a small sigh as she let herself into Church Cottage. That familiar smell – a musty, stoney kind of smell and that familiar slight dampness that sat at the feet of the stone walls winter and summer alike. Everything was as it should be. The mugs hanging in rows from the kitchen dresser, the blankets neatly folded over the back of the sofa. The stuffed barn owl glaring furiously at her from its glass case. She glanced quickly at the floors and ceiling; no leaks, no evidence of squatting vermin. Good. She put the kettle on.
But in fact, Violet’s homecoming had not gone unnoticed for in the seventies barn conversion opposite (if only someone had objected!), David Viney was watching. He stood peeking from behind his curtains, craning his long reddish neck to see better as she unloaded her little car. And he was not taking tea, but sipping quickly at a large tumbler of whisky with little staccato movements. David sported an unfortunately beaky nose so that at this moment he had more than a passing resemblance to a bird jabbing at an insect. What with the whisky and his rapid, shallow breathing, he was becoming quite lightheaded. Not an unpleasant sensation he thought. And the view from his window was not unpleasant either. Not unpleasant at all.
And at that very moment, across a blisteringly cold sea, Vivienne Viney (espoused to David) was thinking much the same thing. Except that she was lounging on the top shelf of a Swedish sauna, entirely naked and enjoying the openly salacious glances of Lars, her twenty five year old lover. She was a long way from Popwell indeed.