Whitework cushion with decorated letter B in William Morris style

Cushion cover with ornamented embroidered letter B (hand embroidered by Mary Addison)

In England, lockdown eased on Monday and huge numbers of people lost no time at all in flocking to the country’s parks and gardens which immediately made the same places much less desirable destinations for the rest of us, who seem still to be quite happy to venture no further than what has become usual during the past year. On Monday I sent an SOS email to a local friend asking if she had a few strands of purple yarn to mend a jumper from the mending pile. Expecting a twist of thread posted in an envelope, I was momentarily taken aback when my friend said that she’d love to make use of  new freedom and would WALK down into Cheltenham to physically bring me a selection of yarns to choose from! Well, walk she did and we spent a wonderful few hours sitting in the garden in the sun with a pot of coffee, catching up on all sorts of things, taking conversational tangents, following  inconsequential thoughts and turning over distressing news that emails and even phone calls never quite catch the nuances of.  The thing about really good friends is that you slip back into amicable companionship, picking up threads and jollying each other along so that a whole year dissolves away and it’s just like you last saw them only yesterday. Exciting to think there should be more of this in the future.

Cushion cover with ornamented embroidered letter B (hand embroidered by Mary Addison)

This ornamented and embroidered B is to be a cushion cover for an old friend I’ve fairly recently got back in touch with. When my family and I lived in Chiswick she and her family had a house nearby and our children (my 4, her 2) were in and out of each other’s houses regularly. She was always very kind, especially during those important life occasions when you just need to leave your children somewhere safe while you are needed elsewhere. We laughed a lot and spent many happy hours sitting in our  tiny London gardens with a glass of wine in hand putting the world to right while somewhere in the house the children banged about dressing up in preparation for some dramatic show to be performed before anyone was allowed to leave the house, let alone be  put to bed. The family also adopted one of our litter of kittens which I think they came to love – she was thoughtful enough to remind me of him when we got back in touch years later. I’m not always keen on all of William Morris alphabet letters but I do find the  curvaceousness of the B lovely, so I was very happy to have re-found someone whose name begins with B for whom I could embroider it.

Detail: Cushion cover with ornamented embroidered letter B (hand embroidered by Mary Addison)

Good Friday is the most sombre day in the Christian calendar.  But Easter Sunday too is always a bit of a difficult time for my husband, as both his father (also an Anglican priest) and his first wife, died on Easter Sunday. Fine weather is inordinately helpful and happily today is a day of glorious sunshine with the promise of more of the same until Monday.

Detail: Cushion cover with ornamented embroidered letter B (hand embroidered by Mary Addison)

As any reader of this blog knows, I have a deep attachment to my daily newspaper, The Times, whose articles challenge and inform me, make me laugh out loud and sometimes even amaze me. This week it carried a piece of local news  which has made me smile. At first I thought it must be an April Fool piece – but no, it was only 31 March.

I have cut some text but the following is a direct quote.

Three men broke into the Cheltenham Tweed Company shop on the town’s promenade on January 9 this year and drilled their way through the dividing wall in the basement to get into an antiques and jewellery shop next door.

Their raid on Promenade Antiques backfired when the alarm connected to a safe went off and they were seen running away covered in dust.

Gloucester crown court was told that David Newman 42, Mark Rabjohns, 34 and Peter Fitzharris, 42, all of Cheltenham were caught nearby.

Tabby Macfarlane, for the prosecution, said that after a passer-by spotted the men, Inspector Marcus Forbes-George was quickly on the scene.

Within seconds he spotted Newman stopping in ‘mid-run’ and then acting in a nonchalant manner, which he assessed as being rather suspicious, he said. He noticed that Newman was covered in brick dust, which gave him cause to arrest him.

The officer then noticed muddy footprints leading to a nearby van parked next to a compound. He went to investigate the area and found Rabjohns lurking in the corner inside the compound and he arrested him.

Meanwhile PC Birch found Fitzharris lying in a narrow drainage channel on the roof of an adjoining shop. Fitzharris was wearing just a T-shirt, which the officer found unusual as it had been very cold at the time . He was also covered in brick dust and his arm was grazed all over. He was also arrested.

Keith Graham, owner of the Cheltenham Tweed Company discovered that they had removed most of a wall to access the antique shop safe. A bag of silverware was found in the basement.

Graham said that a member of his staff recalled three men coming into the shop in December who did not seem to be checking out the products but the layout of the shop itself.

TimBurrows, in mitigation for Newman, said “They were all flummoxed by the safe. It was while they were trying to gain entry into the safe that the alarm went off”

Judge Ian Lawrie QC interjected: “They behaved like three buffoons with utter incompetence in carrying out this burglary. I don’t think the three men visiting the clothing shop were really interested in adding tweed to their wardrobe when they went on a scouting mission in December.”

Fitzharris, Newman and Rabjohns all admitted burglary. Fitzharris and Newman asked the court to take into  consideration an antiques shop burglary in Stroud, Gloucestershire last year.

Judge Lawrie jailed Fitzharris for two years and seven months and Newman for two years and eight months. Rabjohns was sentenced to 18 months, suspended for two years, and ordered to complete 150 hours of unpaid work.

Judge Lawrie told Rabjohns” You were a complete idiot to get involved in this burglary. You need to take greater care who you mix with in future.”

Priceless – a prosecuting counsel called Tabby, a defence counsel employing the word ‘flummoxed’ to assist a plea of mitigation, a near naked fellon and a judge who condemns the criminals before him as buffoons! I was once a witness at a trial where the judge in his summing up told the defence lawyer to go away and learn the Theft Act. It’s tempting to think in this case the burglars needed to go away and learn how to burgle – except of course, we don’t want them to do that!

Cushion cover with ornamented embroidered letter B (hand embroidered by Mary Addison)


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  1. Nella
    Posted April 4, 2021 at 11:44 am | Permalink

    Oh that’s such a funny story! Thank you for sharing this Mary. It reminds me of the wonderfully funny film “Small Town Crooks”. There’s a trailer for the film on YouTube showing another group of incompetent bank robbers!

    • Nella
      Posted April 4, 2021 at 11:44 am | Permalink

      PS. The embroidered B is B…eautiful

      • Mary Addison
        Posted April 4, 2021 at 7:51 pm | Permalink

        So nice of you to add that Nella.

  2. Posted April 4, 2021 at 7:38 pm | Permalink

    Here’s hoping the burglars learn to be competent at something lawful!

    The “B” has a lovely generosity to it, doesn’t it!

    • Mary Addison
      Posted April 4, 2021 at 7:50 pm | Permalink

      Thanks, Rachel. That’s a lovely way to describe the letter.

  3. ceci
    Posted April 5, 2021 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

    I love the swirly bits especially at the top and bottom of the B! And the attempted robbery story is hilarious; here such judicial forthrightness would be the basis of an appeal immediately. One of our entertainments traveling around has been buying small town newspapers (rapidly vanishing of course) and reading the police blotter – some are clearly written by an aspiring humorist!



    • Mary Addison
      Posted April 5, 2021 at 10:15 pm | Permalink

      I still wonder if they published the trial report on the wrong day – it read like a classic April Fool!
      Do tell me, what is the police blotter?

  4. ceci
    Posted April 6, 2021 at 12:31 am | Permalink

    The police blotter is a daily record of calls to, or cases handled by the police – maybe derived from notes jotted on a blotter? Lots of small town news papers had a police blotter column, maybe so you could check to see what was happening in your neighborhood? It gives an interesting feel for a place!


    • Mary Addison
      Posted April 6, 2021 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

      Thank you, Ceci – always interesting to know these things!

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