Anthony Mayer ;  alternative history ;  Sydney Webb's Thaxted - Part 1
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1. Moving South

2. Hunger

3. At War

4. By-election

5. Feel the Love

6. At Home with the Stansgates

7. White Heat

8. Crazy Asian War

9. Seizing an Early March

10. The Band

11. Sterling

12. Can't Hardly Wait

13. The Call

14. Eyes on the Prize

15. The Intersection of Carnaby Street and Madison Avenue

16. I, Robot

17. And So This Is Christmas

18. Ship of Fools

19. The Rest of the Robots

20. It's a Long, Long Journey

21. Some Day We Shall Return

22. Ono no Komachi

23. Think It's Gonna Be All Right

24. Ride of the Valkyries

25. Subversion

26. Genewalissimo

27. The Very Secret Diary

28. M3

29. Say a Little Prayer

30. Fiji, My Fiji, How Beautiful Thou Art

31. The Prisoner

32. In the Direction of Badness

33. The Memory of Barry Goldwater

34. We Can't Go On This Way

35. Don't You Love Your Country?

36. Spicks and Specks

37. November the Seventh is Too Late

38. Film at Eleven

39. Savaged by a Dead Donkey

40. Permanent Revolution

Appendix A


Part 1 - Moving South

Peggy's first memory was of a sunny day and being pushed in a pram by her mother through the bustling streets of the town and along to the park. The colour and movement and noise were not disturbing to the young girl but entrancing. What a wonderful place this big world was!

Peggy loved Grantham. The comfortable bustle of the family's first shop below their home, the ready availability of her parents and elder sister Muriel, friends at Kesteven and Grantham Girl's School, kindly Rev. Skinner from the chapel, and rambles through the hills overlooking the town.

Beatrice knew how much her younger daughter loved Grantham and how strong minded she could be. She daren't leave matters until the formal announcement at the dinner table that night and decided to have a quiet word with Peggy while Alfred was still serving customers downstairs.

"I have some very exciting news dear and I need you to be brave. A man has offered your father a good deal of money for his shops. At the same time a wonderful business opportunity has opened up down in Essex. In a beautiful town called Thaxted. Of course, it'll mean we'll have to move to Thaxted but there are some lovely houses there. Isn't that nice?"

Peggy replied in the high pitched voice of a ten year old, "Thaxted sounds like a horrid name. I'm sure I'll hate it."

Beatrice pressed on gamely, "Now Margaret. What have I said about jumping to conclusions and making up your mind before you know all the facts? There are some very good schools there. We've picked out one for you and Muriel."

"But I've already got lots of friends at KGGS."

There was an uncomfortable silence.

Beatrice forced a smile. "I'm sure you'll make lots of new...

Peggy's voice rose an octave. "If you'll just let me finish. I've got lots friends at KGGS. And I've heard about southerners. They make fun of the way you speak."

Beatrice spoke sternly. "Margaret Hilda Roberts, I've never known you not to be able to do anything you've turned your mind to. If you want to speak with an Essex accent then so you shall. Now, no more nonsense. And all smiles when Father speaks of Thaxted at the dinner table tonight!"

Alfred Roberts had gone ahead to attend to business and purchase the new family home. A number of letters and telegrams had passed backwards and forwards. Beatrice had insisted on a photograph before the purchase had been completed.

Alfred was waiting at the station when the others arrived. The porter carried the bags into the motor-car. The remaining possessions would be coming down by lorry in tea chests.

The girls oh-ed and ah-ed over the shiny new motor-car. Beatrice looked slightly dubious, the vehicle looked too expensive for something a good Methodist should drive. "Not to worry love," Alfred reassured her, "I bought it cheap from a proper gentlemen. Essex is full of them."

They drove from the station through the town. Muriel was immediately struck by what looked like a cathedral. "Father! What's that?"

"Oh that? That's the Church of St John the Baptist, Our Lady and St Lawrence, if you please." Alfred was displaying the prior knowledge he had gained by being the family vanguard into Thaxted. "Church of England," he added dismissively.

Muriel's eyes lit up. "It's huge."

"St. Wulfram's back in Grantham has the sixth highest steeple in England," Peggy piped up.

"Hush, don't be a know-it-all," her big sister chided. "St Wulfram's was ugly, this is beautiful."

"That's the first step to Rome, that is," Alfred said in final tones. "The Rev Wakeman had me over for a cold supper last Sunday at the manse after the evening service. Apparently folks at St Everybody's have incense and Saturday night confession."

Suitably scandalised the rest of the family lapsed into unaccustomed silence. But Peggy noticed Muriel sneaking a backwards glance at the edifice. She was surprised her elder sister hadn't turned into a pillar of salt.

[If you'll just let me continue.]

Last modified: Fri May 16 09:47:49 BST 2003