Home > Welcome to Rosie Hopkins' Sweet Shop of Dreams (Rosie Hopkins' Sweet Shop #1)(7)

Welcome to Rosie Hopkins' Sweet Shop of Dreams (Rosie Hopkins' Sweet Shop #1)(7)
Jenny Colgan

‘You’re teasing.’

‘I’m not. You’ll see. You’ll hate it up there. What do you know about the country? You were born and raised here. What are you going to do when you’re surrounded by, I don’t know. Cows.’

‘I’m not going to be a vet,’ said Rosie, cross that Gerard was so dismissive of her adaptation skills. ‘Anyway, I don’t think I have much choice.’

‘Can you ride a horse?’

Rosie shook her head. ‘No one said anything about riding a horse.’

‘Have you ever touched a horse?’

Rosie, after another pause, shook her head again.

‘Oh well, I’m sure you’ll be totally fine and fit right in.’

‘I’m not going up there to make friends,’ said Rosie. ‘I’m going up there to do a rubbish, lonely, boring family job. With maybe some money as a bit of an incentive when I’m done. Then come back in five minutes.’

‘What if you fall in love with the countryside and never want to come back again?’ said Gerard. ‘I’ll pine away without you.’

‘Ha,’ said Rosie. ‘We’ll get a wee farm with some lambs to gambol about in the fields.’

Suddenly, against all her better instincts, she had a swift vision: of little dark curly-haired children running around a farmyard, feeding chickens and chasing about with dogs. She quickly reminded herself how much poo animals produced.

‘You never know,’ she said. ‘We might be natural country lubbers.’

Gerard gave a theatrical shudder. ‘You’d never get me up there in a hundred years,’ he said. ‘I don’t think so.’

‘Oh God, I know,’ said Rosie. ‘It’s going to suck.’

‘And you’ll miss the rest of the summer! Sitting out in pubs and drinking pink wine and lovely evenings and loads of parties and fun.’ Gerard pouted. ‘Don’t go.’

‘But a little bit of money,’ she said. ‘If I got a couple of thousand from the sale of the house … I mean, we could even think about moving. Into a bigger place. Big enough for … I don’t know … It’ll be quiet.’

She found her heart beating faster even as she said it. Maybe she should go for the unselfish reasons. But a little bit of spare cash to punt them up the ladder … maybe it was the right time for the two of them. Together. When she got back from this stupid bloody thing. To bite the bullet and go for it.

‘I think they’re making ice creams smaller,’ said Gerard, once more looking unhappily at his extra cone. ‘I’m sure of it. They whack the prices up and put less in on hot sunny days. Stands to reason.’

He eyed her up. ‘You’ve said yes already, haven’t you?’

And that was the end of that conversation.

Chapter Three

Licorish

Modern language seems to think it can change things willy-nilly for no reason. Licorish is a perfectly adequate word that also manages to sum up onomatopoeically the consistency of a thick black sweet in your mouth. Liquorice is French, and we know where that ends up – in crème de marrons and macaroons and all sorts of other unpleasantnesses.

The push for modernity in the sweet industry – or, as our vulgarian cousins would term it, ‘candy’ – has been entirely unnecessary since the very first refining of sugar. Sweets do not need dragging into the twenty-first century. Unlike the bastardisation of the humble crisp into more and more repulsive flavourings, a decent bonbon is timeless, a work of art, and few more so than the licorish, an endlessly pliable substance capable of forming whorls, twists, strings, cords and the like.

For those for whom the dark, complex flavourings of the fruit of the liquorice root and aniseed flower are too overwhelming (not all sweet appreciators can be connoisseurs), it comes too in adulterated form, notably (see sub-section 41) the allsort, the bootlace and, possibly its crowning achievement for non-purists, the sherbet fountain.

Lilian Hopkins hated staying up late. It gave her more pain than she could let on, and it made the day seem so terribly, terribly long – and it didn’t help her sleep any later in the morning. Her internal clock had been stuck at 6.30am for a very long time now. And they showed such rubbish on the television, which was in any case hard to see, no matter which pair of glasses she had on, so she normally listened to the radio at full blast – it was company – and read her magazines and wrote in her notebook with her elderly Parker and tried to ignore the aching in her hip until it was a reasonable hour to retire to bed and not think about how she was going to get through another day tomorrow.

But tonight was different, of course. Tonight the girl was coming. She’d always had a soft spot for little Angie, her brother’s kid. She’d been so blonde and funny and spunky and full of life, and had ended up pregnant barely out of her teens, two babies, dad long gone, and she had rolled up her sleeves and got on with it. The two women had exchanged letters (Lilian always sent sweets) for years, and it was a sadness to both of them that Lilian hadn’t managed to get to know Angie’s children. She herself had never married, but it was hard to leave the shop, and she’d never learned to drive, and was quite frankly frightened of London, and between the kids being at school and Angie working and all of them trying to keep their heads above water, the dreams they’d had of Hopkins holidays up in the beautiful Derbyshire countryside had never quite materialised. And they grew up so fast.

So to meet Rosie again after all this time … Well, she wasn’t quite sure what to expect. A bit of a slacker, she suspected. Angie had said she was nursing-trained, so maybe she could help her out with everything. Since the operation … well, there was no getting around it, she was finding life very difficult. Anyway, she wasn’t sure this Rosie could help. She didn’t seem to be making much of a go of her own life. Perhaps she was a bit of a party brat. She hoped Rosie wasn’t expecting too much. After all the bright lights and noise of London, she was going to find Lipton very quiet indeed. She couldn’t think of a single thing to do with her, or even what you said to a young person. It had been a while. She looked at the clock. Another five minutes till the bus got in. She would say her hellos. And then perhaps this girl wouldn’t mind helping her to bed.

You would have had to torture Lilian before she would let you know she’d been sleeping every night in her chair.

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