Another part of my new story – which may develop into something, or may not! Jay has moved to the small village of Oxhope, not through her own choice, but because she has had to assume a new identity – why is not clear at the moment. She hears music from the local pub and goes to investigate.
Although a busy village, there was never much traffic, and as usual the narrow High Street, curving between the terrace of brick cottages and a high stone wall with branches and ivy hanging over the top, was empty. Jay walked on the road, not that the pavement by the wall wasn’t wide enough, but just because it seemed to emphasise the villagey–ness of Oxhope to her.
The lower story of the cottages had been rendered and were painted in different colours, without exception neat and well-kept. Their front doors opened directly onto the High Street, and if she had been nosy, Jay could have looked in their windows. Someone had told her that at Christmas time, everyone along here, and in some other houses too, would decorate their rooms and leave their curtains drawn back so passers-by could see into their cheery, seasonal homes.
Who had told her that? Maybe the vicar when she came to welcome Jay to the village. I’m not a church goer, Jay had said. She’d invited the vicar in for a cup of coffee and practiced her new name, I’m Jay, Jay Allen and hinted that recent events in her life had been painful, too painful to revisit. The vicar had been happy to chat and gave Jay the story of her life until fortunately she caught sight of the time and had to dash off for some parish luncheon.
The Otter was on the corner of the High Street and Underhill Way; the River Ox reappeared at the back of the pub outdoor area and it was in this open area a low stage had been erected where a trio were singing enthusiastically.
Rather than walk between the crowded tables, Jay went along to the entrance on the corner and went into the bar there. It was packed. She had thought everybody would be outside listening to the music, but there was a crowd squashed in being entertained by a young man on a stool, singing and playing the spoons, and a young woman playing an ocarina.
There was another bar which ran along the front of the building, and in one of the window areas, four men with beards were singing folk songs. It was equally crowded so Jay moved through to the end bar where usually the TV was on and darts played, and, a couple of times a week,, poker.
There was a gap at the bar and Jay squeezed in. Despite the crowd she was soon served, decided on a beer, and took it outside to where the trio had just finished and another band were trying to organise their kit.
Jay sat on a low wall… well, this was her new life, it could be worse.