The putative Peppercorn

Thursday 21 May 2015

In the early-morning school-run, I don’t see Mrs Vest or her children, but I do see Grandma Vest’s black Plum depart in the direction of George Street, from where it was parked alongside the Trimots’ house and the house adjoining.
Three women ascend alongside the school: Mrs PP inboard, Mrs FW outboard, and a vaguely-familiar brunette between them. I see them continue as far as the Ports’ house. Mrs PP isn’t being garrulous, but seems to be doing most of the talking. She is wearing a knee-length black dress with a rounded neckline, and a cream or pale-fawn cardigan with only the bottom two buttons fastened. The brunette doesn’t seem to be saying anything.
Mrs PP’s car must be parked beyond the CJs’ house. It departs, in haste, up Acacia Grove.

I walk into the Banlieue, on an errand. As I pass Acacia Primary on the outward leg of my journey, the Infants are playing in the schoolyard; when I return, the Juniors are also out. There is no sign of Mrs Pavane’s car in the school car-park.
Mrs Vest is back on duty for the late-morning school-run; she walks downhill past the school precinct, accompanied by Mrs PP ahead of her, and a man outboard of her. She is wearing black trousers, a sleeveless or short-sleeve white blouse with a straight hem, and sandals. Mrs PP is wearing the same cardigan as earlier, but seems about to take it off. The man is wearing a long-sleeve pale-blue shirt, and dark trousers.
Mrs Bronstein ascends from the school with her elder girl outboard and her younger girl inboard. She is wearing an open grey cardigan, and a white blouse or top with red markings. The elder girl, especially, is talking with her mother. The Bronsteins continue on the far pavement until they pass out of sight.
Mrs Vest, Mrs PP and the man return from the school a few minutes later. Mrs Vest is in the lead, with Mrs PP behind her, and the man is outboard. I now see that Mrs Vest’s blouse has a narrow V-neck; Mrs PP is still wearing her cardigan, but it is falling off backwards just a little. There is no sign of Miss PP, but Rufus Vest and the man’s daughter are part of the group. I have seen the girl before; she somewhat resembles Blanche Pepper, but has straight dark-blonde hair of shoulder-plus length. Walking inboard of her father, she looks just a bit unimpressed. Rufus has his dark anorak on, open at the front but with the hood up. Mrs PP has her left arm diagonally across her chest, holding in place some papers(?) and (between the papers and her body) a little pink coat which must belong to Miss PP.
When the Vests cross the street towards their car which is parked alongside number 35, I see that Mrs Vest also, with her left arm, is clutching something against the left front of her torso — not papers, but a white A4 booklet (perhaps more than one). Rufus now looks a bit miffed — I didn’t notice this when he was further away.
Mrs PP and the man ascend past Vinnie’s house to Mrs PP’s car which is parked nose downhill at the kerb alongside numbers 8 and 10. They make slow progress. The man gets into the car via the fpd.
Both Mrs Vest and Mrs PP drive off towards George Street, where the former turns right and the latter (less than a minute later) turns left.

In the afternoon school-run, Belle — having steered round Mrs Wobbly’s car which is alongside the junction-box and Vinnie’s short hedge — parks her Escargot alongside number 35. She gets out, wearing sunglasses, a royal-blue long-sleeve blouse whose hem is not far above her knees, dark trousers or leggings, and sandals. Her hair descends to below her shoulder-blades. In her left hand she is holding an A4 sheet of paper or card, folded in three. Blanche is not with her.
Belle’s clothes suggest to me that she may be pregnant. (I have wondered more than once recently whether she may be.) If it turns out that she is pregnant, I shall call her unborn baby the Peppercorn.
At 15:02 the Tanbrit Ultra, which has approached from the direction of George Street, drives off past the Old Man’s house. I don’t see who is in the car.
A blond boy, about five years old, is seated atop the wall of the school, immediately downhill of the downhill pillar of the upper entrance, facing out. He is wearing a long-sleeve uniform top, and black trousers. The boy stays there for a couple of minutes. Then he gets down without assistance, and approaches a silver Rubin which is parked just this side of the upper entrance.
Alongside the school precinct, Mrs Vest and Rufus are descending; she is holding his hand. Mrs Wobbly and her two children are coming in the opposite direction. Mrs Vest is wearing probably the same black trousers as earlier, but instead of the white blouse she is wearing a pale vest with dark edging. Mrs Wobbly is wearing a country-check blouse that is mainly blue, but with some black and some white. When the two families encounter each other, there seems to be no interaction. The Vests pass outboard of the Wobblys.
Belle crosses the street from somewhere alongside the school, accompanied by Sim (the rearmost of the three), and by Blanche who is wearing a yellow uniform top and probably a dark-grey pinafore-dress. Blanche must have done a full day today, but she doesn’t look especially tired.
After some delay, the Peppers traverse the “gap”. Mrs Wobbly is now loading up her car.
At the car, Belle opens the nrd fully, and Sim gets in; then Belle lifts Blanche in after him. Belle then leans well into the car. An attractive, dark-haired woman aged 25 or so is ascending towards the car, with her daughter who is about six years old. I have seen the woman before. She touches Belle on the back, and Belle straightens up. I think she then closes the nrd.
The two women chat; the woman’s daughter is inboard of them, facing outboard, waiting patiently. “I’ve ‘ad that letter in me ‘and all the time,…” says Belle, in slightly more dulcet tones than usual. Her face displays its customary mobility when she is talking.
Mrs Wobbly departs, steering round Belle’s car — the Peppers are inside, and all the doors are closed — and heads towards George Street. Belle departs less than a minute later. The offside rear window of her car is fully open.
I mow the side lawn, then the front side lawn, and finally the back lawn. The sky becomes dull, and rain threatens but it holds off.

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