Titch’s Secret Society Chapter 1

CHAPTER ONE

 Titch Has an Idea

Four young boys were leaning in silence against the stone wall of the old tower on the steep hill rising up from the sea in the small South Wales coastal town of Pontyrabad. They were enjoying their half-term holiday. Their eyes were fixed on the distant figure of a strangely dressed man making his way towards them carrying an artist’s easel and a large portfolio bag.

Gogs Palfrey, the tallest of the four, glanced at his watch and was first to break the silence. “Can’t think where Titch has got to, but here’s old Louis again to do another of his paintings.”

“Wonder why he spends so much time painting the old tower?” mused  Bunny Francis.

“Dunno,” replied Miff Smith  “There’s already plenty of his paintings on sale in the art shop in town. Perhaps they’re popular with the tourists.”

“Sometimes he paints the scenery you can see from the hill. I’ve even seen him inside the tower sketching the scene through the doorway,” added  Smudgie Wright.

“He’s coming straight towards us,” said Bunny      “Perhaps he’s planning to sketch inside the tower again.”

“Don’t want him in there while we’re having our meeting!” exclaimed Gogs. “Let’s go inside so he’ll go somewhere else.”

The others appreciated the sense in this suggestion so all four slowly walked around to the side of the tower and mounted the solitary step to go inside. They sat down on some of the very large stones strewn about which had previously been part of the tower wall.

A short while later, the artist Louis, appeared framed in the doorway. Seeing the boys inside he hesitated at the door as he greeted them: “Ello lads! Having fun?”

“Hi Louis!” they chorused in return.

Bunny looked up at him from his large stone armchair, “Going to do another painting Louis?”

The artist looked slightly hesitant. “Er. . . well I was thinking . . .”

“We’re waiting for Titch,” chimed in Smudgie. “Don’t know where he’s got to or how long he’ll be”.

Louis waved his one free hand. “No trouble. No trouble. I’ll go down to the shell house and work down there. I come back here later. Bye lads!” With another wave of his hand he walked around the tower and down the side of the curving hill in the direction of the old shell house.

Gogs looked through the open doorway at the retreating figure. “Didn’t seem to want to do any painting here with us around,” he said.

“Perhaps artists like a bit of quiet when they’re working,” suggested Miff.

“Are you suggesting that we’re a noisy lot?” protested Bunny in mock indignation.

“Well, we have been known to make a slight amount of noise from time to time,” returned Miff with a smile.

The impatient Gogs hauled himself to his feet and strolled to the doorway to look down the hill. “Hey! I can see Titch. He’s on his way up. Wonder where he’s been till now.”

The other three joined Gogs outside the doorway. “P’raps he was late having dinner. You can ask him in a minute or two,” replied Bunny.

As Titch neared the crest of the hill Gogs sauntered down to meet him. “Where’ve you been?” he asked. “You said you had a good idea to talk about at our meeting. Let’s go inside the tower. There’s no one about now we’ve got rid of Louis.”

“Yes, I passed him on the way up,” replied Titch. “I think he’s going to do another painting of the shell house.”


Titch chatting to his friends by the wall of the old tower

As Titch joined the others they all chatted for a few minutes and then went inside the tower. Bunny and Miff sat down on two of the large stones, and Gogs, Titch and Smudgie hauled themselves onto a large rectangle of rough masonry just over a metre high that was built into one of the walls.

“Tell us about your idea Titch,” said the ever-eager Gogs.

Titch took a deep breath. “Well, you know we said that, as there’s not much for us to do in Ponty, we could consider forming a club of our own.”

“That’s right,” chirped in Bunny. “I think it’s a good idea. We could decide what sort of things we want to do, and we might get some other boys to join us later on.”

“Makes sense,” added Smudgie. “We do all sorts of things now but it would be good if we could have our own rules and get things organised, especially in the  holidays.”

“Yes, August holidays especially need a bit of organising,” added Gogs who was already warming to the idea.

“But there’s something else I’ve been reading about in my boys’ magazine which might be useful,” said Titch.  “It was advertising a small book which is free and tells you how to form  your own secret society.”

There were interested mutterings all round. Gogs jumped to his feet. “That’s real cool Titch,” he cried. “How do we do it? When can we start?”

“Let’s send for the book,” suggested Miff, “especially as it’s free.”

“I already have,” replied Titch. That’s why I’m a bit late arriving. I went round to the post office first to post the form asking for the book. That’s why I came up the path past the shell house.”

“Well, what are we going to do in this society?” pursued Miff.

Titch was hesitant. “Well . . . I think it might be a good idea to wait until the book arrives to see what is says, but we did say that one of our activities was going to be playing cricket.”

“Yeah, we’ve got to play cricket,” enthused Gogs, “especially as we all had some equipment last Christmas.”

At this Titch stood up and announced with an air of finality, “I suggest we have a game of cricket now.” He went to the tower doorway and looked down the hill. “There’s nobody playing on the common so we can play there,” he said.

By now they were all on their feet. “We’ll all collect our cricket gear and picnics and meet by the Abbey,” announced Titch. “First one there bats first.” This challenge resulted in a mad dash downhill towards the town.

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