Authors: Tricia Bennett
Next I want to give a big thank-you to Len and Stacie Pedrick and their whole family. They are a ray of sunshine in our lives. Whenever we need a meal and a hug, it's to this couple we turn. Although I have to add that nearly all our visits require us to join them in lengthy karaoke sessions, as she and her young daughter Tori are mighty fine singers!
Then there are Tom and Maura, another outstanding couple who travel the country as a singing duo. Maura is Irish, need I say more! They never fail to bring tears to my eyes, for their singing is truly inspirational. This delightful couple has hearts of pure gold and a real sweetheart of a mother who makes the best cup of tea outside of England. We really love you.
Talking of Ireland, I want to say a big thank-you to two rather special ladies who originated from County Cork in Ireland. Yes, Kate O'Brien, you are the inspiration behind one of the main characters in my books. Your love and deep understanding of the downcast and downtrodden, as well as your incredible wit, have always brought a smile to my heart and face. You are a very special and gifted lady. Next I wish to say thank you to Olive Franklin for the hundreds of times she allowed me to share food at her table and the thousand or so hours she then freely counseled me until I finally learned to stand on my own two feet.
Next I move on to Billy and Shannon and family for all their help and encouragement.
Then I wish to personally thank a wonderful family who live in England and have done so much to help their community as well as support my son Reuben and my daughter Antonia. So Machelle, Jerome, Caleb, Teheillah, Micah, Koah, Sharmah, Beulah, Avodah, and Yehshaw, I cannot express how grateful I feel toward you and your family. You have shown yourself true by being there for my children when I was on the other side of the world. I hear nothing but praise when they talk about you and your family.
I also wish to thank Rosalyn and the Women of Wildwood Charity group. I have just become a member of this amazing group of feisty ladies, most of whom are educators who raise money that gives youngsters the opportunity to continue on in their education. They also raise money to give a second-chance grant to some older deserving person who wants to make it through college.
Next I would like to say a big thank-you to my special friends Dale and Carolyn, Derek and Darren. They befriended us when we knew hardly a soul over here.
I would also like to mention my lovely Spanish friend and interpreter Kenilia Perez as well as Danny and their very two very precious girls Stephanie and Grace.
Then there are Al and Vivienne Levine and their equally precious family. Vivienne is a dab hand at winning cookery competitions! We love you loads.
We must also make mention of our dear friend Watchman, who is also a regular visitor in the schools and prisons and has his own school of rap for poor but talented musicians. You're the best.
Which brings me to our closest friends that I left behind in England. As well as David and Tisha Knowles, I wish to say the biggest thank-you to Steve and Georgie Bailey and their terrific family. Polly's favorite teachers in book one are based on this exceptional couple! We had our children at the same time, and we've weathered many storms together.
Next I want to thank Doctor Vija Sodera, a talented physician, author, and musician, and his family for their support and friendship.
I also wish to say thank you to Jacinta here in Florida and her beautiful children. This single mother has most definitely been both an inspiration and help to me.
Finally I wish to make mention of my two surviving brothers Francis and Vincent. I wish to honor both of them as they were, to quote Dickens, “my companions in misery.” I know we have grown apart, and I trust there will come a day when we will hold and hug each other once more; until such time, please know that I love you both.
And last but not least I wish to thank the mayor of Wildwood, Mr. Ed Wolf, for his continued support. This kind man came up trumps when on more than one occasion we urgently needed his help and support.
Lastly I would like to thank all my faithful customers who bring friend after friend to visit our Polly's Pantry Royal Tearoom situated just outside the Villages retirement community here in Wildwood, Florida. I want to thank so many of you for sending me personal gifts such as the hand-sewn apron with Polly's Pantry on the front, and the Harrods teddy bear, just to mention a few. There have been too many gifts and letters to make mention of them all, but I assure you now that these acts of human kindness never fail to touch me deeply.
We would also like to thank Allen Quain and all the staff at Creation House who have worked so hard to produce this book.
RE WE ALL
sitting comfortably?” the aged storyteller politely inquired, his steely blue eyes content to survey the continuously growing crowd as they weaved in and out of the aisles in search of a spare seat. As he continued to wait for his audience to settle down, he allowed a quizzical, if somewhat bemused, look to slowly spread across his craggy, deeply lined face, which bore testimony to many past and personal tragedies.
Needless to say there came a point when, with his patience wearing thin, he decided that this was indeed the perfect moment to bring the noisome crowd to order. He cleared his throat and began. “It has become most apparent that there are many newcomers amongst my audience, most of whom do not have youth on their side. So pray, would someone do me a great kindness in explaining this rather peculiar phenomenon?”
A number of hands hurriedly shot into the air before a young and bright pigtailed girl, who could wait no longer, rose to her feet. Then with the wide-eyed innocence of a dewy-eyed doe, she poignantly addressed the storyteller.
“Dear sir, I tell you no lie when I say that ever since you closed your book and ordered us to go home to our families, we all have found ourselves completely overwhelmed with the story of Polly, so much so that we were instinctively filled with the most extraordinary desire to tell everything we learned to not only friend and family but absolute strangers as well. Such was the compulsion within. So forgive us, sir, if we mistakenly passed on what was intended for our ears only. For if this is the case, well then, we all stand horribly guilty of letting you down.”
The young, pigtailed girl stopped mid-sentence, for a nervous tickle had found its way into the back of her throat, causing her to cough somewhat. “Excuse me, sir,” she mumbled, going the brightest shade of pink as she politely put her hand up to her mouth to stifle any further unseemly splutters.
“Young lady, pray take your time, and continue on only when you feel ready,” encouraged the storyteller, giving her a warm and friendly wink.
The young girl responded with a sweet if not slightly nervous smile before continuing on with her story. “Well, of those grown ups who cared to listen, most then requested permission to accompany us back here, for they too wished to hear firsthand all that remained to be told of this unusual but wonderful tale. So please, I beg you, allow them to stay, for I assure you they will remain as quiet as church mice, and all present have given their personal assurance that they will be no trouble whatsoever!” she very adamantly stated before rather touchingly clasping hold of her father's strong hand for the purpose of gaining further moral support.