Outside their small, warm and snug little house on the town square the men from the local brigade were marching up and down, giving and taking commands. They stopped on one such command and stood to attention. Their new uniforms and wooden guns – weighted to simulate real weapons – had arrived the day before. They stood in the setting sunshine and listened to a senior officer make a rousing political speech.
The wind got up, then calmed down and the slamming of the cat-flap indicated the return of the cat. Hours passed. Hours were yet to pass. Jon turned the television on: Hitler, Hitler, Cooking, Quiz Show (Winston Churchill, Arsenal, Star Trek), afternoon soap (slap, kiss, weep, fall), a movie (Shaun of the Dead), a based on a true story movie (slap, kiss, weep, fall, brave battle with spinal injury, god, wedding, bliss), sport, sport, sport, cooking, sport, Hitler, Vietnam, gossip, news, news, news, sport, Nazis.
The dour cloisters of Rimmington Hall rang with excitement. Cleaning, dusting, painting, polishing, rejuvenating were the orders for the day; the young master was coming home. For the first time in four years the curtains were not drawn, the fires were alight, and the sound of music – in the form of off-key humming – could be heard int the anterooms and backstairs.