PROMOTING DAVID WISEMAN
About DavidDJ Wiseman has lived and worked in Oxfordshire since 1973. For the last 20 years he has had a passionate interest in genealogy, discovering branches of his family scattered around the globe. During that time he has been a regular visitor to theUSAandCanadawhere he has close family connections as well as more distant cousins. His family researches have taken him as far asVancouverto find his grandfather’s ‘other’ family – and he has written about his experiences for a national magazine.
Lifelong interests include maps, reading, writing, travel and photography. In 2009 in conjunction with a close friend he produced The Further Bank, a memoir of photographic expeditions around the landscape of the upperThames.
A Habit Of Dying is DJ Wiseman's first published full length novel, but he hopes it will not be the last. A new story is being developed, also a mystery, but with a new cast of characters. Partly as a result of reader comments, a new Lydia Silverstream mystery is expected to be developed in 2012.
A Habit Of Dying has been generously reviewed in several UKmagazines and one in Australia. In addition, local (Oxford) press and broadcast media have given excellent reviews. National and international reader comment expressed in online postings and directly to the author has been extremely favourable. Review details and reader comments can be found on www.ahabitofdying.co.uk
DJ Wiseman: www.djwiseman.co.uk
A Habit Of Dying: www.ahabitofdying.co.uk
On Twitter: @HabitOfDying
InkOnDemand Blog: www.inkondemand.wordpress.com
On Twitter: @InkOnDemand
About David's Book
A Habit Of Dying is the compelling story of Lydia Silverstream and her attempts to reunite a family heirloom with its rightful owner. Amongst the box of old photo albums she discovers a sinister journal, both the key to one puzzle and an enigma in itself.
Lydia’s enquiries take her from her home inOxfordto Cockermouth and the Lake District, toCambridge, Essex and theSussexcoast. Along the way she meets Stephen, who becomes the sounding-board for her theories. As the original purpose of her quest is fulfilled, the potentially homicidal secrets of the journal emerge.Lydia’s worst suspicions appear to be confirmed when she uncovers the circumstances of the journal writer’s death.
When asked about his motivation behind the story, the author said, “I have had a special enthusiasm for researching my own family history, which is a never-ending detective story in itself. Combine that with the pleasures of reading, of travelling, and above all of writing, and you have A Habit Of Dying. Although it has an underlying theme of family history, I hope it will also be enjoyed by readers who have no particular knowledge or interest in genealogy.”
Reader reaction and press reviews have shown the story has a wide appeal, and has been strongly endorsed by readers of all backgrounds and interests.
A Habit Of Dying - Chapter OneLydiasplashed a little milk that was probably past its best over her bowl of cereal and hurried back to her bedroom, acutely aware that she was running late. Not so late as to matter but later than she intended to be. It was only a twenty-minute drive to the auction rooms but she had planned to leave earlier to give herself another chance to inspect the lots that she was interested in. Now she was in a rush, grabbing mouthfuls of her breakfast as she slipped out of her dressing gown and pulled on her familiar jeans and baggy sweater. It was her usual, one-outfit-suits-all-occasions, way of dressing. She squeezed into her jeans and pretended that it was less of a squeeze than it really was, then slipped the sweater over the frayed shirt that would be good for just one more day. Briefly, she contemplated her reflection in the mirror as she passed a brush vigorously through her hair. For a few moments she considered the satisfactorily shapeless person who stared back at her. As with a dress which when first bought seems so right, so bright, so absolutely it, then one day quite suddenly is dated and a little faded, a little tired, soLydiasaw herself. She let the thought weigh a moment or two and then took a last spoonful from her bowl before grabbing her keys, her bag and setting off.
The Saturday morning traffic was light as she steered her little Nissan out of Osney and along the Botley Road on her way to Eynsham. It was the same route as she had taken the previous night when she had been to view the two lots for which she was planning to bid. The place had been busy with the usual eclectic selection of people poking through the equally varied boxes of china, well-thumbed books and bric-a-brac. It was the staple fare of the house clearance world, mainly worthless junk to anyone but the cheap collector or the car-boot sale enthusiast. But amongst it all there were a few good looking pieces of jewellery, a few real antiques of value and her own particular targets. The first was a box containing two service medals from the First World War. If she were successful in her bidding, Lydia planned to research them and then attempt to re-unite them with a relative of their recipient. It was something that she had done before, not with medals, but first with a family bible that she found at a market stall and months later with a photograph album she had picked up from the St. Frideswide’s church jumble sale.
For many years Lydia had enjoyed researching her own family history but more recently she had grown weary of the subject, for it seemed there were so few pieces of the jigsaw left to put in place. Those that she had found lately concerned only the most distant of relatives, and the more distant the cousin, the less the discoveries enthused her. But the whole business of researching and assembling the results to form a picture, sometimes from the most obscure of places and with only the tiniest of clues, that element still gave her great satisfaction. The idea of finding a living relative of the family who had dutifully filled out their details in the Victorian family bible had come to her the instant she had seen it. And that Californian woman - where else, Lydia had thought rather uncharitably - had been more than happy to have the heavy volume air-freighted at considerable cost to her home in Sacramento. Lydia had asked no more than the cost of the bible itself and the freight cost, but Ms Tammy Mills had insisted on adding fifty dollars to the payment.
The second re-uniting had taken a good deal less effort. The photo-album had looked as if it dated to the late nineteenth century and Lydia was not surprised to see that she recognised parts of Oxford in a few of the photographs. She loved the musty smell of the paper and enjoyed staring at the images, immersing herself in the sepia world they portrayed. As her Oxford was right there on her doorstep, she once took the album out with her to compare a scene in Jericho with one of the pictures. Best of all was a photograph of an old couple standing in front of their house on Osney Island itself, just a few streets away from Lydia’s own. Most likely a family who might still have a local presence she had thought, and so it had proved. Since the great boom in family history it has been said that today there is at least one researcher for every family on the 1851 census. It had taken Lydia no more than a few weeks of careful investigation and some judicious web postings to find a great-great grandchild to whom the album was very special indeed. Of course, the task would have been almost impossible without at least one of the photographs having a name attached to it.
Today it was her intention to buy another such album, part of a job lot in a battered cardboard box, but under some of the pictures were names and places, neatly written in what Lydia had taken to be a young female Edwardian hand. The two medals were a different matter, not least because she had no idea of what price they might command or what interest there might be. She could afford whatever they might fetch for they were not special in any way, simply examples of the medals given to hundreds of thousands of servicemen for their part in the so-called Great War. From all she had read and learned there was precious little that was great about it apart from the number of savage deaths. But Lydia was not inclined to spend much of her money on a whim or what she still considered to be the luxury of her little hobby. Month on month she saw a small increase in her accounts and it had become an easy habit to fall into. If she could get the medals without endangering that monthly gain then she would, but if they went beyond her limit then she would let them go. It was all too easy to be a little carried away at an auction, each bid being just a few pounds more. If you were going to spend a hundred then why not a hundred and five, and if that then why not a hundred and ten?
It took a few minutes to find a parking space on the little industrial estate behind Eynsham where the auctioneers had their rooms. It amused Lydia that despite being no more than a scruffy little industrial unit sandwiched between a roofing contractor and an electrician, the auctioneers still liked to call it their ‘rooms’. There was a better crowd than usual, which did not bode well. The hot snacks van parked outside was doing a good trade in bacon rolls and the inevitable dripping burgers. The sickly waft of hot fat and onions made her grimace and wonder, as it always did, how it was that she could have been so attracted by it as a teenager. Distant days now.
Pushing through the knot of people at the entrance, Lydia made her way past the rows of cheap furniture, up the metal staircase to the upper floor where the sale would be held and where the crowded racks of smaller items were displayed. First, she checked that the little box with the medals was still in its glass display cabinet. A moment of anxiety as she couldn’t see it, but even as she looked closer an attendant placed it back on its shelf. She became aware of another interested party, a man, in a threadbare black coat far too long and too thick for the clement weather. Unkempt grey hair, shiny and curling, hung over his collar. In another place he might have warranted no more than a glance, dismissed as a down and out, but the glint of heavy gold on podgy fingers said otherwise. Lydia thought she might have seen him at a previous sale and marked him down as a dealer, someone with more money than she had and with profit the only motive for purchase. But the medals were there, they had not been withdrawn at the last moment. She turned away, unwilling to show any further interest, and looked to the back of the room where the crowd was beginning to thicken. A few steps back and she could just see the cardboard box with the albums, tucked away under a table where she had carefully placed it the previous night. No point in making it too easy for a casual browser to find.
Positioning herself where she might have a good view of the room and still be able to see if anyone rummaged in the box, Lydia spent a few moments observing the potential opposition. She had noticed in coming to these sales a few times that the less experienced would stand close to the item in which they were most interested, while the regulars would take a seat on the random selection of chairs set out in rows facing the podium. A lot of dealers were in, she thought, and realised that she had barely looked at the rest of the catalogue, so intent had she been on her own two prizes. She fumbled in her copious bag for the crumpled sheets. Big blue crosses marked her two lots, numbers thirty and eighty-nine. The medals were the first of these. About an hour and a half might see a result one way or the other.
Lots one to twenty-eight came and went in fewer minutes then, on twenty-nine, a hiatus as the lot could not be found. Nervous laughter all round as the item, a gold wedding ring from the glass cabinet, was located on a lower shelf. An unremarkable piece that attracted little interest. And yet, like nearly every item in the sale, it had a history and a story to tell, had once been a treasured possession, only to now be reduced to anonymous insignificance. Lydia prepared herself to follow the bidding for the medals. The auctioneer invited a start at a hundred, Lydia’s limit, but for the moment she was unperturbed. It was quite normal for no one to join on the opening offer. It started at fifty and leapt past a hundred in three bids. She watched in amazement as several bidders took the price to two-fifty. She could see one bidder sat close to her but the other was more camouflaged. The unseen buyer won the day at three hundred and twenty five. Lydia was astonished. She was sure that the medals were completely standard issue, unique only by the name engraved on them. She could not believe that such things would command so high a price without there being some other story behind them. In thinking that, she immediately resolved to research the person to whom they had been issued, regardless of the fact that their medals now belonged to someone else.
Judging there to be at least thirty minutes before she needed to be in her place, Lydia took herself back down the stairs and out of the building. She wanted a cup of tea and regretted leaving home so hurriedly, for she had planned to bring a flask. Instead she was reduced to buying a cup from the burger van. It did not meet her needs, too hot to sip at once and too unpleasant when it had cooled sufficiently. But she was in the fresh air and took the opportunity to people watch, a favourite pastime. She would imagine whole lives based on a moment’s observations. The clothes, the age, the smile or lack of it, the hands, the walk - she fancied that they told her everything and there was never anyone to tell her differently. She checked her watch. Time to go back and see how the sale was going, see if there was any life in the room.
There was not. Lot seventy-one, a pair of binoculars, well used, went for five pounds, seventy-six, a box of assorted ephemera for two. Eighty-four was a selection of Second World War books and magazines that she had looked at carefully. They were interesting but not unusual and she had a copy of one of the books that her father had collected. Eighty-nine – A Quantity of Assorted Albums. This was her. Opening offer is twenty with no takers. Lydia keeps quiet and waits. Who’ll start at ten then? No takers. Come on, a fiver. Lydia waves her catalogue. Five, we have five do I see ten? Thank you, ten. Do I see fifteen? Lydia’s catalogue flutters again. Yes, fifteen. Twenty anywhere? Thank you, twenty. He looks at Lydia. Against you madam. Twenty-five? She nods. Twenty-five. Back to you sir, I’ll take two. Twenty-seven? Somewhere behind Lydia a man shakes his head. And he is probably right, thinks the successful bidder, twenty pounds should have been the top. To her surprise Lydia’s heart is thumping and, she mocks herself, all over twenty-five pounds plus commission for a box of old photo albums.
*Placing the box on the table next to her desk, Lydia contemplated its dusty contents. It was tempting to immediately open them up and pore over them but she resisted. It was not her way. First, she preferred to savour the prospect, rehearsing the method and the rewards to be gained in the next few weeks, perhaps even months. Now the cost of her purchase seemed more than justified, a paltry sum for the hours of investigative pleasure that would ensue as she followed each hint and clue until she’d unearthed all that could be discovered of the people fixed in the sepia pictures. Four photograph albums, one postcard album with most of the postcards missing and a couple of old ledgers. Of these seven remnants of forgotten lives, she had looked at only one volume during her flying visit of the day before. That alone contained the whole basis of her purchase, a photograph of a group of people in a garden, crucially dated as 1911. Vitally, right there beneath the print were written the names of the group. This she had taken to be the key to unlocking the door of discovery.
For the rest of the afternoon Lydia held the prospect and possibilities of the photos in her head, the project enlivening her before she had even begun. Finally, when the domestic routines of her day were complete, she settled at her desk and began the first stage. Each of the volumes would be inspected in turn, no notes taken, no book marks placed at interesting points, just a slow turning of the pages, an absorption of their contents, their feel, their texture. Even then Lydia would not turn first to the album that contained her presumed key, but rather she would take each from the box in turn and let herself sink into their contents. She had called it her immersion therapy before discovering that the phrase meant the exact opposite to what she understood by it. Nonetheless, it remained as the way that she described it to herself.
The first album she took from the box was not an album at all but a ledger, completely devoid of any entries. An account book without accounts, every page still waiting for its first debit or credit to be entered in the proper boxes between the green feint denoting the columns. Its emptiness in some peculiar way saddened her. She guessed that it could have been printed at any time before around 1970. It was the spreadsheet of its day and its day had ruled for hundreds of years in one form or another. It had certainly ruled more elegantly, if rather less efficiently. Lydia put it aside, thinking that if nothing else she might one day find a use for it.
The next album that came to her hand was in a sorry state, its cheap paper-and-card covers splitting, the black pages barely held in place by the thin cord binding. But of the photographs it once contained, there was not one remaining. It had been used, it had been well used, its twenty or so pages had once held the faces of friends and family, often turned through and, in Lydia’s imagination at least, turned through with love and affection. All that remained of this gallery were the carefully written captions beneath the spaces that once contained their subjects. A woman’s hand, Lydia supposed, in white ink on the black card, reminding the viewer of the dates and the places. Ethel, Violet, Rose and Albert; Tooting, Clapham and Chelsea; first birthday, VE Day, Christmas 1938, August 52. The life of a family in snapshot captions. There was little to inspire beyond a certain sadness, a certain nostalgia for people and places unknown. The white writing on black pages brought to mind her own family and her mother’s little collection of photo albums. A parent’s own childhood, forever alien and obscure to the child, forever other-worldly, forever showing a different person than the mother or father that the child knows. Lydia allowed herself a few moments on each page, seeing the words rather than reading them, sensing the thoughts of the author rather than struggling to find perfect meaning where none would be found.
Still she deferred the album that she had quickly flicked through, the album with names and places and photographs to match, the album she supposed to be the key to the ultimate satisfaction that awaited her. Preferring to savour that prospect, she chose instead a slimmer one, one she thought might be a little more modern, a little nearer her own time. Her guess proved correct. This third selection was indeed closer to her own childhood, a family album of smiling faces, of holidays and ice creams, of round faced children in plimsolls and airtex tops. There were a handful of colour pictures scattered on the last few pages. but mainly they were of a muddy black and white that spoke of cheap processing and Box Brownie imaging under an inexpert hand. A few had captions that gave a name or a year. Lydia let herself drift into the scenes, taste the ice cream that cost three pence when a threepenny bit was a single twelve-sided coin. She looked at the man posing proudly beside the shiny car, all chrome bumpers and white-walled tyres and wondered if his wife took the same pride in it. Their first car? Certainly the finest car that they had ever owned, something to mark them out from their friends and neighbours. And where to go in their new found affluence? Why, to Hastings and to Margate to make sand-castles across the promenade from the Beach Hotel, sea-view rooms a little extra. Lydia spent maybe half an hour slowly absorbing the scenes and the family, touching their lives, sharing their moments, becoming familiar with Fred and Archie, with Susan and Paul and the enigmatic ‘self’. At length she put them all aside, knowing that they would be revisited and examined as clinically as she was able.
Choosing the second of the two ledgers next, at first glance it also appeared unused, but in fact it was neither empty nor a ledger. Whatever its original purpose, the pages had once been separated by very thin sheets of something which to Lydia seemed akin to the grease-proof paper that her mother might have used for cooking. These sheets were all that remained, since the pages that they separated had all been removed. So it was a book not only void of writing but also of pages and she was about to discard it when a final flick through took her to the last few sheets. It was not void of writing at all. In fact it had a lot writing in different styles and inks, covering perhaps twenty of the translucent pages. It was not what she expected or thought might be valuable in her original purpose, but true to her curiosity she began to read the last and most legible entry.
It has taken forever to get these first words out of my head onto this page in this old copy book. I have struggled so long and now they are written but none of the words are about what I need to write about. They are written now like this because a woman who I see once a week, an old woman, a volunteer at our local centre, has listened to me breaking into pieces over the last few weeks and the idea of writing out my demons has come up again today.
Lydia stopped, suddenly shocked and embarrassed that she found herself reading these private words. This was not for her eyes, this was nothing to do with her. It immediately and vividly reminded her of finding letters from her grandfather to her grandmother amongst her mother’s things. They had been written from Tokyo bay in the days after the end of the war in the Pacific. Eventually, she had screwed up the courage to read them and found them so personal, full of love and yearning to be home, full of disgust for the scenes of war still fresh in his mind. Even though it was several years after her mother’s death and more since her grandparents’, she still saw herself as a thief, a peeping Tom. Now these raw words gave her that same sensation. She closed the book and put it back in the box.
As if needing an antidote to the unexpected intrusion into her own sensitivities, Lydia seized the prize from her collection, lay it squarely on her desk in front of her, hesitated a second to catch the last frisson of anticipation, then opened the collection of Edwardian photographs that had first attracted her. Unseeing faces from long ago looked out at her from the pages, fixed in aspic, forever sepia. Men and women caught at an instant in lives that had long been led, with all the superiority of age, the unknowing freshness of youth. Lydia turned the first leaf and let her eye settle to the photograph that had brought her to this point. A group of fifteen, casually arranged in the time-honoured way, adults seated with younger folk standing behind them, children on the ground. A family, certainly, most likely with grandparents seated in the middle with their children around them, their grandchildren at their feet. Lydia let her gaze fall slowly on each in turn, looking into the eyes, reaching out for the warmth of the summer day, listening for the sounds of an Edwardian summer. And beneath the photo, arranged in three lines to correspond to the three rows of faces, were written the names Mr Melville, Self, Alice, James, Henry and below Beatrice, Isabella, Papa, Mama, Albert, Joseph and finally the youngest Phoebe, Albert M, Albert, Harriet. In the same hand beneath the names was written Longlands 1911. Priceless stuff, thought Lydia, already letting her mind take her to a moment at some point in the future when a great great grandchild of Papa and Mama would be joyfully united with these Alberts and Phoebes and Josephs.
For maybe half an hour or more Lydia leafed through the album, soaking up the people, studying faces, noting the change in dress, the uniforms towards the end of the album, the same names repeated, children maturing through adolescence. Just as important were the absences of some as time passed. But this was detail that would be noted and catalogued later, for now the only purpose was to get a feel for this family, slip under the skins of these people. For all her looking, for all her breathing in of the faces and lives, it came as a shock to realise suddenly that ‘self’ and Alice must surely be twins. At this stage of her process she did not trouble herself with detail, with noting each name. Lydia looked through again to see if there was a photograph of just the two of them together, but there was not. The 1911 tableau was the only one in the album where they appeared together, stood side by side behind Papa and Mama. At length Lydia put the album aside, content with her progress. She guessed that it covered perhaps the ten years to 1920.
Two volumes remained in her cardboard box. One she knew already to be a postcard album, but someone had been there before her and stripped out all but a few. Lydia looked at those that were left, carefully removing them from their mounts to check for the message they had contained. All were blank, collected presumably for the sake of the scenes they depicted. A church in Whitehaven, the High Street in Braintree Essex, Christ Church, Oxford, which Lydia recognised with surprise. Random images? Any possible connection remained elusive.
The last album was more productive. Another family album, most likely from the 1930’s she supposed, with perhaps thirty or forty crisp snapshots, all carefully mounted in the pre-cut slots of the brown card pages. Some with names like Bertie and Henry and Verity. Bertie in an RAF uniform, Verity as a bridesmaid, Henry and Kathleen, smart on town hall steps. Distant lives, distant times. Lydia searched for a key that would move her closer to these people, but found none. Perhaps she was too tired, still thinking perhaps of Papa and Mama in 1911, seeing them as her best way in. She put Bertie and Verity aside, closed her eyes and considered the way forward. She knew what she would do but still rehearsed the process. The first question to consider was whether or not this little job lot of other people’s lives were connected by anything other than the dog-eared cardboard box that they came to be in. The first pass through had shown nothing that stood out as a connection, and anyway, that would wait until Lydia had dragged every piece of information that she could from each of the photographs, noted it, tabulated it, researched it. Then, from these labours, she might possibly find the connection or find that indeed there was no connection.
*The last time that Lydia had performed this oh-so-pleasurably private task had been six months earlier and then, as now, she found herself anxious to establish the essential first piece of the jigsaw from which she might reveal the whole picture. So she started where she always knew that she would start, with the 1911 photograph. She prepared her notepad, her laptop, and the little yellow post-it notes ready to page mark the album. On her computer she made a spreadsheet to tabulate names and comments, with columns set up ready to receive the hoped-for entries from census records, birth, marriage and death entries, war service records, address notes, even columns for as yet unknown sources. If any of her colleagues from work had ever guessed at her doing such things for pleasure they would surely have not believed it, for did she not spend the greater part of her working days entering endless information into spreadsheets? And she would do this for pleasure at home in her own time? But they would also have shrugged and put it down to Lydia being Lydia, a little off beat, a little secretive when surely she had no secrets to keep. She knew that they whispered a little about her, knew that when a casual question about the weekend was posed on a Monday, the question had been decided by committee and the answer would be reported back at the next opportunity. Like most of her sex, her work-mates had a need to chat, to check whether there was any competition around, gain some knowledge and thereby some possible advantage. Sometimes she fed them a titbit or two, sometimes they were true, sometimes they were nearly true.
First, each photograph was numbered and entered into her list. This was to be her ‘A’ album and when she had finished numbering she found that there were fifty-three photographs. Then each photograph was described, and the number and sex of the people it featured were carefully recorded. All this was simple mechanical work, but what followed was more satisfying. Where there was a background other than a studio backdrop, Lydia examined it for any information that might be normally overlooked. So when she did this with the Longlands image she saw that it was taken in a garden with a large house in the background which, by its style, she took it to be fairly modern for its day. Looking under a magnifying glass she also saw another figure at one of the windows, and although it was a tiny image, it appeared to be the figure of a maid with a cap and white apron. Having servants was nothing if not the norm for such a family in 1911, and most likely there would be more than one in the household, a cook at least, and perhaps a gardener.
She progressed through each photograph in this manner and then began the process of matching any information from the captions to the people shown. From there she was able to cross-reference an individual to each photograph in which they appeared. Where there was any doubt over someone being the same person as in another photograph, Lydia also noted this. It was a long and detailed process, but she had proved and enhanced it over the course of her previous investigations. She worked with an application any employer would have been proud of. And she did so in the knowledge that it was a process which could bring results.
Working on her project in this way, on and off in the evenings through the week, Lydia had gathered and recorded enough information by the following Sunday to assemble a summary of what she had found. She identified ‘self’ as featuring in eight photographs, based on there being seven identified as Alice and eight as ‘self’ or without caption. Lydia reasoned that the album maker would more likely have left herself unnamed than her sister. And then she wondered if being an identical twin might mean that ‘self’ was not sure whether a picture might be that of her sister or herself. Or did a twin always recognise themselves? The presumed grandchildren of 1911 came top of the list with Albert M ten, Albert eleven, and twelve each for Harriet and Phoebe. Lydia put a little note against Albert and Albert M because she could not be completely sure who was who in a couple of cases. Of Mr Melville there was but the one entry in the list, and he was joined in his solitary state by Fanny, Francis, and Edith Clopper.
According to the location of the photographer’s business, this was an Essex family from the area somewhere around Colchester and Braintree. This, together with Longlands as a place name, led Lydia to believe that identifying them and finding a descendant was going to be fairly straightforward. It was this that made her pause in the project. Should she continue with her ‘A’ album and press on to achieve her purpose of finding that as yet unknown but surely grateful descendant, or should she take on the other albums and evaluate them also? Were they projects in themselves or was she dealing with a single enterprise after all?
As was her habit when any kind of problem needed consideration, she decided to put the detail aside and occupy herself with something completely different, allowing the issue to slip to the back of her mind from where an answer would present itself at some future point. The warmth of the day took her to her little courtyard garden and her pots and plants. It was not the best of places in which to grow anything, being west facing and overhung by too many of her neighbour’s trees. Such light as it might receive was further diminished by the high fence of Miss Affleck who lived next door. But it suited Lydia, it was very low maintenance, and it was her favourite place to think, tidying up a container or two, dead-heading her roses or simply brushing up the leaves. When there were no jobs that took her fancy, she would bring out a comfortable chair and a book or magazine to enjoy the fresh air and solitude. To allow the Longlands problem to find its resolution, she chose to carefully pull out the sprouting weeds around her two pots of tulips. While she did this, Papa and Mama, Isabella and the Alberts, Harriet and the twins resolved themselves into a single project alongside Susan and Paul, with Ethel and Violet, Henry and Bertie. There was no science to this process, simply a matter of finding a course that she was comfortable with.
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DJ Wiseman: www.djwiseman.co.uk
A Habit Of Dying: www.ahabitofdying.co.uk
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