Chapter 23 – Pimlico Huse

Penny – December 1982
Penny and Charles’s twin girls arrived on Christmas Eve by which time Penny was as she had predicted elephantine. Susan and Katy were identical and adorable. The girls were destined to be thoroughly spoilt with the devoted attention of their parents, two older siblings and two sets of grandparents to attend to their every want. All of the grandparents were staying at the Rectory for the Christmas period everyone ready and willing to support and nurture Penny and her new babies.
Penny had the luxury of a few days idle with Gwen and Jane sharing the cooking and other chores while she had time to enjoy her new born twins. Conscious of Penny’s previous bout of debilitating depression Charles spent as much time with Penny as was possible for him at this particular time of year. He also called Suzanne who in turn communicated with Rebecca and Caitlin consequently all of Penny’s friends called her over the holiday period to congratulate her on the births and to chat and be supportive.
The household was expecting a visit from Charles’s sister Jo, her husband Julius, and their two-year-old son. William was a striking combination of both his parents in looks and nothing like in temperament. He was a delicious chocolate colour with black hair and brown eyes framed by thick black lashes. Tall and already outgrowing his baby chubbiness William was a whirlwind constantly on the go and needed to be worn out with endless activity for either parent to get any sleep.
Football was William’s passion. A ball accompanied them wherever they travelled and Julius would spend hours dribbling, making passing shots and standing in goal whilst his baby son tore around the garden or park screaming and laughing with delight as he kicked the ball. Julius was more than happy to hand some of the activity over to Simon and Lucy who were delighted to play with their younger cousin.
Jo and Penny had become great friend ever since Penny had lived in their family home in Lincoln as a student. She sat with Penny on the afternoon of their arrival holding one of the babies whilst Penny fed the other. She watched the baby suckling at Penny’s breast and observed the look of contentment on Pen’s face, smiling to herself as she remembered the bonding process. Baby number two fed, Jo changed one nappy as Penny changed the other. The two women chatted together contentedly rocking a baby each.
‘How are you feeling?’ Jo asked fairly unnecessarily as Penny looked radiantly happy.
‘Wonderful! Aren’t they the most beautiful and adorable babies?’ Of course they looked much like any other babies but Jo made all the right noises. With the family genetics they certainly had a great start in life. Simon and Lucy were both gorgeous children in looks and nature. Jo was hoping that her own son would have calmed down a little before their next was born. She and Julius had just had the news of a second pregnancy confirmed. She now related this information to Penny who she knew would be pleased for her.
‘That’s great news’ Penny smiled her approval, ‘when is it due?’
‘Middle of June we think. I just hope that William needs less attention by then. He’s more than a full time job at the moment!’ Jo was not exaggerating; she had given up work to take care of her son as no childminder or nursery would have him. Not that he was naughty deliberately he was just totally hyperactive.
Jo found it difficult to admit, even to herself, that she sometimes couldn’t cope with him. She didn’t have a way out though. Jo sometimes had to grit her teeth and force herself to be patient when she was way too tired to cope. In some ways she was dreading her second. Julius’s job as Deputy Head of a large comprehensive school was very demanding meaning that he often needed to work late. They had moved away from family and friends for him to take up his post in Reading. It was difficult to make friends and Jo was rather isolated not working and with a child not in school.
It didn’t help that they were a mixed race family but Jo tried not to see this as an obstacle.

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