As part of Poppy's blog tour, here's an extract of the lovely new book!
The Bluebell Bunting Society
A familiar face gives me a big shock as I’m waiting for the class to show up. ‘Susannah! You’re here!’
‘Of course I am, dear.’ She smooths her charcoal grey pencil skirt underneath her and sits on a plastic stacking chair. ‘I’ve brought my own sewing kit, to boot.’
‘But you said hells bells to it!’
She blinks coolly at me. ‘No, Constance. You asked me what Rosemarie would have said, and I told you. But I will support whatever you do to meet new people, and try new things.’
‘For the good of the Hall.’
‘Yes, that too. Besides, I remember your GCSEs, and that apron. I thought you might need some help.’
Why hadn’t I thought of it before? Susannah was a card-carrying old lady with all the handicraft skill that went with it – she’d be a whiz on Gran’s machines and could make sure I wasn’t using bias binding instead of elastic, as I had in my first abysmal attempt.
‘Well, I’m very happy to have you here. Can I get you tea while we wait for the others? I have five definites and I hope some drop-ins. More next week if it all goes to plan and Flip can help spread the word.’
As I’m boiling the kettle for two teas, I hear our PR guru clatter in lightly on heels, put down something with a clunk (I’m guessing her sewing machine) and launch into a conversation with Susannah about how she started sewing. She’s running through the courses she’s taken, from adult evening classes to an intensive week at the WI college, as I come back in with the drinks. I had no idea such a place existed but it sounds pretty cool. ‘My mum absolutely hated anything close to a domestic science!’ she hoots. ‘But in her defence, she was a radical. It just screamed oppression and stupefaction to her. To me, it just means half an hour of headspace and clothes that actually fit my breasts!’
Neither of us can now help but look at Flip’s impressive bosoms, clad in what must be a hand-knitted pea-green cardigan.
She’s thundering on, really enjoying her subject. I just get the impression Flip enjoys everything to the maximum, and I love that about a person. Gran used to say ‘some people are drains and some people are radiators. The drains just suck up everything good that comes their way and all they do is give back a bad feeling in return. But radiators make a place more comforting, they make people feel warm and welcome. Some people can’t help being drains but it doesn’t mean you have to fill your house with them.’
I tune back into Flip’s chatter. ‘But any skills women can teach women are a joy, and an essential part of how we shore up the generational relationships, stay strong as a community, share our strengths and cover our weaknesses. That’s why I was so keen to join the WI when I moved here. And when it comes to sewing, well, my daughter Melody and I might row about the Wi-Fi code – I reset every day at 10 p.m.,’ she nods conspiratorially, ‘but we can come together over making her a prom dress from scratch. And it’s much cheaper to boot!’ Cackle cackle.
‘There is something special about being in the company of women, almost sacred.’ Susannah nods.
And that’s just when Dominic arrives.
ABOUT POPPY DOLAN
Poppy Dolan lives in Berkshire with her husband. She's a near-obsessive baker and a keen crafter, so on a typical weekend can be found moving between the haberdashery and kitchenware floors of a department store, adding to her birthday wish list. She has written three novels: The Bad Boyfriends Bootcamp, There's More to Life than Cupcakes and most recently The Bluebell Bunting Society. The Bad Boyfriends Bootcamp made it into the Amazon top 100 bestseller chart, so clearly someone other than her mum must have read it. She's currently working on her fourth novel – it's about friends, siblings and crafty things – and drinking far too much tea.