The Charltons Saga

Gosta Green Studio

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In Pursuit of Jack Tar

Floss continued to convey her tale of woe... how the sailor, one Jack Tar, had put her in the club and then abandoned her. "My dad was furious when he found out that I was pregnant and he threw me out on the street" she confided. "With nowhere else to go I ended up sleeping on a bench in Snow Hill Station. My daughter was born last March but was taken off me and put up for adoption. It's been really cold sleeping in the station this winter."

Meg spread her hands and, turning to the others, said "I had every sympathy for this girl. It didn't seem right that she should be alone at Christmas time and to face the elements during this bitterly cold spell. I decided to invite the poor wretch to spend Christmas with you all - my family........"

 

There was a short silence before Tony spoke up.

 

"Nice to have you here, Floss....and sorry we didn't get off to a very good start with our selfish squabbling over that present .....anyways, folks, we think we have a lead to the whereabouts of Jack Tar. We dropped into Yates' this morning for a pint and bumped into Harry's mate, Albert, who was a good buddy of Jack's in the past. Albert reckons that Jack dosses in the old BBC Radio Studios at Gosta Green. The place has been derelict for years - since they moved everything to Pebble Mill in fact. Me and Harry are going up there this afternoon to check it out. Thing is...Albert reckons the building is haunted by old radio people and said he wouldn't go near the place." 

Just then the door flew open and Harry appeared.

"Val, I thought you were supposed to be looking after the turkey ....I think you'd better take a look at it...smells like it's burning. Mom's doing the veggies while dad's getting out of it as usual - he's on the phone to a punter who want's to buy one of his old bangers....and Tony's preparing the sage & onion mix ..."

 

Turning to the guest, he quipped "Do you want stuffing, Floss?"

 

Floss, unaware of Harry's intended double entendre, beamed "Oh, yes, I love it...in fact I haven't had Christmas dinner since I left home....it's so kind of you people to take me in and treat me so good. How could I ever repay you?"

 

With a wink, Harry replied "We'll think of something!.....oh,by the way Val, don't be too long with dinner 'cos me and Tony are planning on going up to Gosta Green about one o'clock and, after a pint in the Warwick Castle, we're gonna find that scallywag Jack."

Val was already scurrying back into the kitchen to rescue the turkey. Floss and Harry followed in her tracks and everyone helped with the preparations for the Christmas feast. Eventually, they all sat round the oval dining table - wearing paper hats and creating a din with the hubbub of conversation and noisy cracker-pulling. Meg glanced around the table with pleasure at seeing the smiles on the faces of her family... and the evident happiness shown by Floss as she giggled and chatted. It made her proud and felt self-satisfaction that she had been able to help this poor girl.

 

 

With Christmas dinner over, Meg, Val and Floss disappeared into the kitchen to wash the dishes while Colin retired to the garage in order to prepare a car for viewing by the customer who'd phoned earlier.

Colin was already rubbing his hands at the thought of selling this vehicle. He'd paid 50 quid for it and expected to make 250 on it now he'd tarted it up a bit. With the money he was making on these second-hand cars, his dream of moving the family out to Texas could soon be a reality; although Meg isn't so keen as she wants to go to Canada. His day-dreaming was interrupted by the sound of the front door slamming and, a few seconds later, Tony's head popped round the garage door. "Tarra dad, me and Harry's off up town now ....seeya later."

 

Sitting at their favourite table in the Warwick Castle, Harry and Tony sipped their pints as they discussed how best to handle that scoundrel, Jack Tar.  Would he relent and do the honourable thing by Floss?  They doubted that but it was certainly worth trying to force a conclusion.  Maybe he didn’t know about the baby …maybe he’d been searching for the girl.

 

Time passed pleasantly in the comfy surroundings of the bar-room.  They’d been there for an hour before Tony suggested they should make tracks to the derelict studio across the road.  Just then, who should walk in the bar but old Albert who they'd spoken to earlier about Jack Tar. Although he was no longer a full-time seafarer, he still wore a peaked naval cap - set at a rakish angle atop a mop of greying hair. A matching beard adorned his swarthy, weather-beaten face and his 6 feet 3 inches frame dominated the doorway. His piercing blue eyes scanned the room before coming to rest on the familiar faces of our two brothers. With an impish grin he made his way over to their table.

"Hi there me hearties!" he greeted.

"I thought you pair might be around the area looking for Jack....so I came along to offer some support in your quest...besides....Jack owes me a few bob and maybe it's my last chance for a payback before he buggers off again."

Harry got up from his seat to greet the newcomer. "Hiya, Albert...what yer having to drink...usual?" Without awaiting a reply, Harry beckoned the barmaid and ordered a double rum.

“We were just going over to the studio looking for Jack… you said he dosses in there, eh?” Tony queried.

“Yeah, but he ain’t there presently ‘cos he’d be wary that one of the many folks he owes money to might come lookin’ fer ‘im …..ah! Cheers, matey!”. Albert retorted, relieving Harry of the glass offered to him.

“Blast!” cried Tony “We wuz ‘opin’ to catch ‘im t’day n’all”.

“So, when’s the best time to catch him then, Al?” asked Harry.

 

Albert explained that the best time to meet up with Jack would be at night because he knew there were murmurings around the town that the studio was haunted, so no-one would want to venture into the place after dark.  At Albert’s suggestion, the brothers agreed to meet him outside the studio at 7.30pm.

 

"Oh ...and before you go, Harry, fancy a trip on the Med?"

Harry's brow furrowed. "Erm....what's 'the med, Al?"

"Ha, ha ....Mediterranean of course. I'm off there for a month next week.... just thought you'd like a break from this weather". came the reply.

"Nah....I couldn't get the time off work, mate....thanks all the same". Harry said, reluctantly.

"Too bad. You'd have a great time.....ok, the weather ain't that good this time o' year, about 65 to 70 degrees maybe, but it's better than here for sure ....what about you, sonny Jim? You fancy a trip on a yacht?" Albert addressed Tony.

"Blimey! That'd be smashin'!.....but ... I dunno...I'm in the same boat as 'H' regarding work...can I let ya know for def later?" flustered the young man.

"Yep...sure...but don't be too long, I'm off down the 'smoke' on New Year's day".

A bell rang out signalling 'time', so the trio made their way outside, arranging to meet later before going their separate ways.