The villagers gathered on the green for their annual fete. Penny Ramsbottom had been particularly presumptuous in assuming the prime spot, next to the village crest. She had enjoyed smiling – just a quick flash- at Rita Wallsingham who had long held a bug-bear regarding the positioning of pitches. Peering through her kitchen curtains that morning she had spotted Penny, proudly laying out her relishes; fleetingly she had seen Rita grimace: an indignant gargoyle, her fury completely transparent.
Most neighbours had already been to show support for this ‘most wholesome’ of traditions. The Jones family’s au pair had sauntered out in a tight pencil skirt, her voluminous buttocks stimulating more of the communities’ salivary glands than the pastries tent. When she had stopped to lean over Bill Thompson’s hydrangeas, the men’s eyes and the ladies’ malicious talk had followed:
“What is that girl’s name?” Rita had asked her long-suffering spouse, “Something dreadfully foreign I seem to remember, Arid or Astrid?” Mr Walsingham just kept watching, transfixed, while she continued, “terribly brash.”
She told herself he was simply preoccupied with events at the Oval.
Penny was pink and uncomfortable in the heat. Was this normal? Spending three solid days potting up jams and polluting the house with rich vinegary vapors, just to put Psychotic Queen Rita’s upturned nose out of joint?
She would never restore relations with them now. There had been vicious accusations levied about negligent dog ownership after Moses had dug up the Walsingham prize cabbages. And then buried their phone in the compost heap.
Penny admitted her transition into village life had not succeeded. Squinting up at the village crest she saw the truth of it. Three crossed scythes over a golden wheatfield, an apt symbol for village life: sharp tongues and back stabbing against a flora-rich scenery.