Flossed: An Alex Harris Mystery

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Joining the Grown-ups

My Robert Shaw is perhaps less known; but he may be the key to all the other manifestations. I know the writer, the man who never forgot the short, crucial time he spent in my home town in Orkney. Should you really never judge a book by its cover? Had I gone along with that dictum years ago I would not have happened upon Edmund Crispin. Shameful though it is to admit it, I was attracted not by the name of the author — unknown to me — but by a Penguin Crime jacket.

Its green and cream design caught my eye at an Amnesty International book sale in the church opposite our house. Our dining-room had recently been redecorated, and I judged Frequent Hearses would, suitably displayed, tone with the colour scheme. The date is 28 September Yet despite the pivotal role he played, his name is still comparatively little known. The Last of the Light is a spellbinding exploration of that haunted moment of transition, either on some particular evening or in the history of the civilizations through which Davidson effortlessly roams.

Again and again we find ourselves confronting the familiar with fresh eyes, noticing the tiny but significant details that he brings to the fore and quickens into life. Jan Struther, the well-known and successful writer, lecturer, radio performer etc. Aged 14, I read Gaudy Night simply as a tantalizing romance masquerading as a thriller. Rereading it now I see it as a ghost story, its form demanded by its subject matter.

The ghosts float across the text as metaphors that are not merely decorative, as elements of style, but fundamental to the plot, which has to do, crucially, with language, written and spoken: language stolen, repressed, destroyed. As a beneficiary of the Welfare State and the Permissive Society — to name just two of their life-enhancing achievements — I owe an enormous debt to the liberal intelligentsia who, in the teeth of opposition from the Old Gang, brought them to pass.

But who were these irreverent shock troops and what motivated them? Florence Marian McNeill, known as Floss, understood the importance of regional dishes. Rosemary Sutcliff knew about chariots. In the first of her four Roman books, The Eagle of the Ninth , her young hero, the centurion Marcus Flavius Aquila, politely suggests to his British friend Cradoc that the British are all charioteers. It shows her buttoned into a high-collared shirt under a garment that appears to be an academic robe but could simply be a very large cardigan.

Not quite smiling, she looks gentle yet distinguished, exactly as I remember her; and, as I looked at the photograph, there she was again and so was I, back in the old public library at the top of Highgate Hill in north London. It is an irony that the dramatization of a novel may deter not spur. Instead of leading the viewer to the book, it becomes a substitute. The six volumes were published to acclaim between and In Boy , we can see where these creatures come from. I recently treated myself to a first edition with its rare silver cover so fragile it generally disintegrated within weeks but my first copy was a Puffin paperback.

Are writers born or bred? One of my grandfathers was a poet — an exact contemporary of Kipling, though rather less famous. His main contribution to literature was the invention of the poetry postcard. Slightly Foxed is now reissuing all four of the Roman novels, with their original illustrations, in a limited, numbered edition. Often dismissed as difficult, The Waves is a book that should be heard rather than read. I mean the kind of deep listening we give to a friend who needs to unburden herself. We turn self off and become an ear into which she pours her life.

The original parson-naturalist, White dedicated his life to observing and recording the natural history of his small Hampshire parish. In doing so he not only advanced our understanding of British flora and fauna quite considerably — he was the first to identify the harvest mouse and the noctule bat, and to distinguish between the chiffchaff, the willow warbler and the wood warbler, by listening to their song — but also laid the groundwork for an appreciation of local habitats that still informs our national character today.

Thirty years or so ago, we always shopped on a Friday morning at a local supermarket, and for a number of weeks we observed a strange phenomenon in the car park.

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Cars would arrive at, say, five to nine — but instead of everyone leaping out and going about their business, not a door opened until five seconds past the hour, when with one accord everyone sprang from their cars and made for the lift. I was born in and so I stepped over into vague adulthood during the s.

My parents were what you might call bohemian, which meant they used Freud as the springboard for seeing sex in every aspect of life and they believed in doing whatever they felt like doing and to hell with the consequences. This is a fictional West Yorkshire town derived from Hunslet, which stands across the River Aire from the city centre of Leeds, and is where Waterhouse grew up. But Billy Liar went on to transcend the genre. I wonder what the business was that the person from Porlock wanted to discuss when he or possibly she knocked on the door of the isolated farmhouse in Nether Stowey on that day in the summer of ?

The catalogue of the London Library currently lists 1, titles on the First World War, and there will be many more to come during the remaining centenary years.

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Between and John Lloyd Stephens made two long and arduous trips through Central America in search of lost Mayan cities. What followed were two huge books respectively and pages long , both best-sellers in their day. Even now Incidents of Travel in Central America, Chiapas and Yucatan and Incidents of Travel in Yucatan are a splendid introduction to the Mayan world, since except for a few of the most famous sites, the ruins they describe remain as remote and untouched as they were years ago.

I have never been to Chinese Turkestan or to Egypt, worse luck, but from my own experience far less extensive than his I can testify that Stephens has got Central America and its lost cities dead right, in all their complexity, discomfort and absolute fascination. He claims to have explored no less than forty-four sites, many for the first time. Last spring, I visited the hamlet of Knill, deep in the Herefordshire countryside. There was much about this world that he disliked, and many of these dissatisfactions can seem rather minor and arcane. This features a doughty old red Volkswagen camper, with its forward-pitched roof raised like a sceptical eyebrow as a bearded man climbs out through its sliding side door.

In the foreground, we see two lurid, flowery chairs. Above is only blue sky.

Flossed (The Alex Harris Mystery #3) by Elaine Macko

Inside, you can make out a cooker, a folding table and a checked curtain. It is the kind of van in which you could go a long way. Brian pronounced Bree-an Moore started his life in Belfast in and ended it in Malibu, California, in , and that journey — and all that it implies — is the central thread of his fiction. He wrote twenty novels. I have read them all. I bought most of them in hardback the moment they came out. Indeed he was my favourite living novelist.

You should never camp in a ravine. Look for higher ground, and a windbreak — a fallen tree is fine, but rocks are the best. Gather balsam wood for bedding, and use your tomahawk to cut firewood from a dead tree. Make two fires. Set the bigger one against the rocks for warmth, and spread the ashes of the smaller one over the ground you wish to sleep on — they will stop it being so cold and damp. Catch fish from the river, but keep an eye out for Indians moving silently through the forest on moccasined feet.

I have just reread it, from cover to cover and from footnote to footnote, for the second time. And, at the end, I have found myself, as I did thirty-five years before, with tears in my eyes. Published in , Real People is a subversively mocking but also poignant coming-of-middle-age comedy. Janet is thankful to see the back of un real people, particularly her boring insurance executive husband and tiresome children. There he was swept away by a huge wave, outrider of an unprecedented storm which two days later would claim the lives of eighteen crew in the Fastnet yacht race.

The body of the novelist J. Farrell was found a month later. With his death at 44, contemporary literature lost a unique voice and the prospect of even greater riches to come. In the autumn of , I started working for the Royal Society of Literature, one of the strangest and most beguiling organizations in London.

It contained the prayers of the divine offices to be said at appointed hours, as well as psalms, lists of saints and a calendar, often tailored to the particular place in which it was used. My diary, the only book I use many times a day, is a paltry thing beside these medieval books, some of which are made visually beautiful with illuminations, and all of which are conceptually beautiful in their weaving of the hours of each day with the arc of the whole year.

For me as a teenager, reading voraciously on the Natal sugar farm that was then my home, what gave Herman Charles Bosman an edge over other writers was that he was a murderer. From my adolescent perspective, lounging in a rattan chair on the veranda, with the sea of sugarcane swaying in the distance, it was his infamy that was beguiling. For anyone interested in places and their associations And So to Bath is a gem.

For occasional fellow travellers he has the scholarly and spinsterly Miss Whissett, and Rudolf, an enthusiastic young Austrian student of English literature whose companionship may have held more than a passing charm for the bachelor author. When you are happy, E. Benson or some other undemanding text is enough; when you torture yourself, you need to find ways of coping. From the darkest degradation he brings hope. He finds meaning amid the meaningless. It would be an exaggeration to say that his book saved my life — but it did help me find meaning.

The captain opened a bottle of beer. It took three days for the boat to reach Le Havre. Do you know the novels of Dan Rhodes? I ask because his books would appeal, I believe, to many readers. But he avoids journalism, does not belong to any literary groups or contemporary schools of writing and is very much an individual novelist. He neither pursues fame nor patronizes his readers.

What he believes is what you get: sensitivity, humour, sadness and devastating shock. Sometimes I have been so saddened, so shocked, that I have stopped reading and put the book aside. But before long I am compelled to pick it up again and read on. And what I have read has found a place in my imagination. Grunty Fen has long been a source of mystery. For years it lurked in the dusty lumber-room of memory, unvisited and all but forgotten, its faint miasma lingering slightly, if unpleasantly, until all that was left was the name, only the name.

Like Adelstrop, you might think, as immortalized by Edward Thomas; though until recently, all the two places had in common was that once, long ago and for a short time only, each boasted a small, branch-line railway station. The Siege of Krishnapur is a tremendous read. Amid the laconic humour and enthralling action, serious questions are asked about the wisdom of accepted ideas and the ownership of possessions both material and territorial. On the way, we learn about contemporary social mores, medical and religious schisms and even how to lay a cannon in the heat of battle. It is a book echoing with the voices of hard-rolling, rusty-trucked ranching communities, inhabited by men and women who plod and plough and geld and herd for a living on isolated dots of farmsteads and in one-street towns.

But they did so from different sides of the fence. Hoban started writing Riddley Walker in and finished it five years later. It is a masterpiece. Those who know it love it, and whole websites are devoted to it, with chapter-by-chapter annotations deciphering the language, and online chat rooms discussing its themes. In a Russell Hoban Some-Poasyum a symposium in Riddleyspeak was held in London, with readings, quizzes and a pilgrimage to Kent to visit locations in the novel. I waited until my wife was looking the other way, nipped quickly in and bought it.

The three starred in the Merchant Ivory film of the book, which I have never seen. Chic Parisian misery: just what teenage girls love. Not immediately, of course, but as soon as both had made it through the higher education which would force them to live far from each other for the next three or four years. That lad was Ted Walker, his bride-to-be Lorna Benfell. The two had met when he was 14, she one year older. Ted wanted my parents to be among the first to hear. He held them both in high regard, and they him — a mutual affection that lasted to the end.

I was in my mids, freshly released from a degree in maths and physics I had understood very little of, and then a diploma in journalism. I was working as a science journalist, but what I really wanted to write was fiction that somehow incorporated science. Someone must have recommended it.

Even a novel. My paperback bears the scars of my attention: the faded front cover is detached and veined with creases, the corners worn and blurred, the pages dog-eared and soft as cloth. The impact the book had on me in return feels almost as physical. Because history, until that point, had left me completely cold. With A Place of Greater Safety , it suddenly came to hot-blooded life and stepped right off the page. I watched a lot of television in my twenties and I doubt whether it did me much good. But it did lead, indirectly, to my discovering the fascinating novels of Nigel Balchin.

Turning a Page

In I saw a TV drama series, bought a copy of the book on which it had been based and, among the endpapers, spotted a notice for another novel that sounded intriguing: The Small Back Room by Nigel Balchin. I devoted much of the rest of the decade to finding and reading his other novels he wrote fourteen in all , and now consider Mine Own Executioner to be one of the very best of them. When he published Goodbye to All That , his startling memoir of his youth and his experiences on the Western Front in the First World War, he was Most of the book recalls events that had ended a decade earlier.

One day I found a copy of Montrose , written by my grandfather, John Buchan, and published in Despite having been taught at university to be pretty sniffy about any history that made personality, rather than socio-economic forces, the driver of great events, I nevertheless thankfully abandoned my Dutch and read the book straight through. Was anyone ever as singular as Charlotte Mew? Mannish, gruffish, diminutive, she ranged about London in her tailor-mades and cropped hair and rolled her own cigarettes, possibly with the discarded drafts of poems.

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Farrell felt sufficiently confident to paint his next exploration of the decline of the British Empire on a larger canvas. But he deserves to be better known, if only for one book. Published by Heinemann in , Over the Bridge is the first volume in an autobiographical trilogy. Some fellow English literature students took refuge in drink, drugs or promiscuity. My escape was the novels of David Lodge.

Between and he wrote Changing Places , Small World and Nice Work , which form a loose trilogy set mainly at Rummidge University, a very lightly fictionalized version of Birmingham where Lodge taught. These are the opening lines of Childhood, Youth and Exile — the first two volumes of the sequence My Past and Thoughts — which covers his early years, to The other three volumes carry on from there and end around Let me count the ways.

Of course, our love affair with lists goes back a lot further than her. Surely, when Moses came down from the mountain top with the Ten Commandments he was bringing us an important early example of a not-to-do list. Both are distinguished by complexity of plot, an array of eccentric characters and prodigious comic invention.

And both are very funny. And I will never forget the moment on p. I remember her most vividly gliding down from the first floor of her Holland Park house on a Stannah stairlift. Not with P. She reached the hall with an expression of keen anticipation and great good humour — especially if I had come to chauffeur her to an evening engagement. Being driven around London at night, she used to say, was one of the great delights of her old age. The subtitle of J. The Rules of the Game is a work of military history, a genre which I have always seen as male-dominated and which I usually avoid.

There are no women in this book. The only females are ships. Nevertheless, for the past nine months or so I have lugged around this page tome by Andrew Gordon on the Battle of Jutland. I made my first acquaintance with David Grayson in a dank corner of a bookshop basement. The bare light bulb just overhead had gone out, probably months before, leaving the corner in deep shadow. Ever the intrepid book hunter, I reached for my pocket torch and continued browsing. There, on the shelf nearest the floor, scuffed and soiled, its frayed and faded spine almost illegible, was Adventures in Contentment by David Grayson.

I reached for the volume, blew decades of dust from the top of the spine, and settled myself on the floor. But how many people today read the book on which the film was based, the literary scoop of the twentieth century, the bestseller that won the Nobel Prize for Boris Pasternak?

When I look back at the food of my s childhood, it all seems as brightly coloured as a pair of toe-socks or a brand new Space Hopper. It was a neon feast of packets and powders, stuff dehydrated, canned or frozen solid. A typical supper was Alphabetti Spaghetti and fish fingers accompanied by the happy glug of tomato ketchup; then a pudding of butterscotch Angel Delight just add milk with a squeeze from a tube of chocolate-flavoured sauce. Michael Holroyd is the most distinguished biographer of his generation, chiefly on the strength of three monumental works — Lytton Strachey, Augustus John and Bernard Shaw, published between and The first two were each published in two volumes, and Bernard Shaw in four volumes.

The first thing that strikes one about the Conway family is the noise. And, of course, behind all this hubbub there are family secrets. It is a kind of full-length portrait of a small country town — this small town — between the wars. White in the summer of Already a well-established and prolific professional writer, Moore had written Portrait of Elmbury in six weeks after leaving the Admiralty Press Division in London to return to his home town of Tewkesbury, and it was to form the first part of a trilogy based on Tewkesbury and its surrounding villages.

Portrait of Elmbury and Brensham Village were both published by Collins in , and The Blue Field followed two years later: the names of places and people had been changed, but the disguise was lightly worn. His name was Bill Drysdale and he taught me English when I was barely into my teens. He was tall and charismatic, with a dark beard and a beautiful bass voice. The thing we most loved about Bill, however, was that from time to time, instead of teaching us grammar, he would read us a story instead. But best of all, he introduced us to G.

She began life as the fictional heroine of a small newspaper column and went on, via American bestsellerdom and a celebrated wartime Hollywood movie, to have the kind of impact on world affairs that solemn, male writers can only dream of. Winston Churchill and Eleanor Roosevelt were among her fans.

The former claimed she did more for the Allied cause than a flotilla of battleships. Not long after we launched the Slightly Foxed Editions, we came across a little gem of a book, first published in and long out of print, which we decided we must reissue.

She was an only child, a singularly precocious, egocentric and thoroughly original one. She sets out for China in , when the Cultural Revolution is still going strong, and soon she is hacking a path through impenetrable jungles of revolutionary doctrine and jargon. Now she is gamely slogging across arid deserts of boredom and hours of improving lectures about the heroic deeds and shining examples of simple peasants. There are a hundred discomforts and irritations to be endured.

Like her explorer predecessors, she is indomitable, but in her case it is because of her heroic sense of humour and her eye for the absurd. Hand-Grenade Practice in Peking — her account of the year she spent as a student first at the Foreign Languages Institute in Peking and then at Peking University — is a very funny book. As a work of art the text alone, admirable as it is, would not be in the same league.

Anyone experiencing it as an audio-book would miss a great deal. Published in , it portrays a way of life which had been overturned by the First World War and was to go on changing rapidly through the century. It is more than a nostalgic lament for a vanishing world, however: it describes a way of living that is very much alive. I shall always be grateful to A Cab at the Door. The train lights dimmed and instead of the Blitz spirit a sullen, twitchy silence set in.

I was spectacularly lucky in my companion. The sheer vigour of V. But I expect you have managed to get the best of both worlds. The resulting book and the correspondence between her and Hopkins are still kept in the library at Aberdeen University. I harbour — perversely, you might think — the fondest memories of two much maligned phenomena: the s and Birmingham. I was lucky, of course. I had a relatively pleasant, carefree adolescence, and I see all this through a Proustian haze of nostalgia. What do you feel like reading, curled up in your armchair? Obviously, a whodunnit. But not just any old whodunnit.

You want the real queen of crime, the best, the darkest, the most interesting, idiosyncratic and literary novelist that the Golden Age of detective fiction produced. I refer, of course, to Margery Allingham. I was delighted that it had landed safely in a public collection. In my opinion a good map always enhances a good book, especially when the author and a skilled illustrator have worked on it together.

My imaginative life , however, was in grave peril. It hovered on the brink. I loved it, and I learned much more about upland sheep farming than I could possibly have divined from hours of watching Herdwicks on the fell. Every now and then a book is so badly published that it never quite recovers, however eloquent its admirers.

Following a diagnosis of TB as a young man, before the introduction of penicillin, he must have felt he was living on borrowed time for almost all his adult life. For those who have never read him, this small book about his native Orkney serves as a wonderful introduction. For those who have already fallen under his spell, it is something they return to and quote from, and love like an old friend. I must have been 16 when I first read it, and nothing I had come across described more perfectly my own state of mind.

It clutched at my heart; returning to it in middle age, I found certain phrases and sentences echoing across the years with haunting vividness, like a bell tolling from a submerged city. Arthur Ransome was a great admirer of Hazlitt and hankered after producing a series of essays himself. That might put off those readers who are not among the four million anglers in Britain.

Ransome was not a narrow-minded devotee of fly, float and lure but a man of wide interests and experience. When T. Eliot in , the two volumes ran to some two thousand. Where did the other 1, pages come from? The story it tells is of vast proportions too. Do not, however, be unnerved. It also deserves a great many readers. Was any novelist — or journalist come to that — writing about breast cancer in the early s?

Did anyone — apart from the medical profession and a few bold souls — even talk about it? A mastectomy was considered almost a matter of shame. But I can remember the sense of relief when I realized that, despite the icky subtitle — A New Path to Personal Knowledge and Power — it was written by a professor of psychology and had footnotes; this I understood.

For about a hundred and thirty years after his death in , William Cowper was one of those figures about whom every keen reader had something to say. He was up there with Milton and Johnson, though people felt more intimately connected with Cowper than they were ever likely to feel with Milton.

If the subjects of our early reading determine what we become, I should long since have turned into a collie. As a child in the s I read one book after another by Albert Payson Terhune about the pure-bred sable collies the Lassie type he kept on his New Jersey estate, Sunnybank. The books were published in the s but even now most of them are still in print. She is an aristocrat, a countess from St Petersburg, and she is visiting the village home of a distant relative whom she calls her uncle.

He is a jovial character who lives with a serf woman, Anisya, who has prepared a rustic banquet for the hunting party. It is one of those books that never fails to give me pleasure, even now I know it so well. There is so much about it to admire and enjoy: the precision of the dialogue, the deftly drawn characters, the accuracy of the settings, the steadily rising tension — above all, the sheer quality of the writing.

Here is a writer in complete command of his subject: able to do whatever he wants, confident it will succeed. My uncle had told me of a memoir by a woman called Angela Bolton who had nursed in India at the same time as Grandma. The Maturing Sun is not a long book or a work of great literature, but it is a compelling portrait of nursing life during the war. I found a second-hand copy and began to read. Author, scientist, ecologist, forester, conservationist and environmentalist, Leopold was truly a powerhouse of natural history. His Sand County had a profound impact on the environmental movement, introducing the idea of wilderness management and environmental ethics.

That makes it all sound rather dry, but in fact the essays sparkle with precise details. Most people do not encourage members of their family to become biographers. There is no telling what trouble they will get into. If you write fiction any member of your family who appears on the pages of your book can be hidden by a different name that prevents them being recognized.

Picture, if you will, the most appallingly pretentious person in the world: a well-dressed middle-aged lady at the piano, plonking her way through the slow first movement of the Moonlight Sonata. Her guests, enduring the entertainment in various attitudes of suicidal boredom, give dutiful little sighs as that last chord fades, and then steel themselves for. For — though she pretends otherwise and that Beethoven composed the trickier second movement largely by mistake — it is in fact the only tune she can play.

The Wild Irish Girl , by Sydney Owenson, was first published in , since when it has rarely been out of print. I knew nothing of this novel or its author until a few years ago, when I was writing about the Italian poet and philosopher Leopardi and needed to place this tormented genius against a real background. When he gave Captains Courageous to me, my father described the opening episode of the book: a teenage boy falls overboard from a transatlantic liner at night and is hauled into a dory by a deckhand from a Grand Banks fishing schooner.

A boy falls into the sea, has adventures and forms friendships, and in due course is returned to his grieving parents. Elinor M. Brent-Dyer was a teacher from South Shields who visited Pertisau in the early s. The first of her school stories set at the Alpenhof Hotel, which she transformed into the setting for her Chalet School, was published in Fifty-eight Chalet books followed, the last appearing posthumously in The books have been continuously in print ever since. These are the six emails and messages that should ring the scam No Brexit is worse than no deal says Sajid Javid: Chancellor warns failing to deliver on referendum would Robert Mugabe's widow Grace walks behind his coffin in a black veil as the former Zimbabwe president is WhatsApp and Facebook will be forced to reveal encrypted messages from terror suspects and paedophiles after Former lady-in-waiting Anne Glenconner tells how she and the royal confided in each about their cheating Sir John Major 'conspired with Margaret Thatcher's closest aides' to ensure she wouldn't stepped down and he The damning Leon Brittan files: After the former Home Secretary was hounded by police on his death bed, we Devastated mother reveals she thought her football-mad son, 9, had a cold - but he died two days later of Hundreds of police officers pretend to be 'knights in shining armour' so they can prey on children, Lewis Hamilton's Formula One team sacks four workers over 'racist bullying' after they called one employee a Pervert school cleaner, 51, is jailed for 18 months after setting up a secret camera to spy on female Yemeni athlete, 24, drowns as he tries to get into Spain on tiny refugee boat to 'start a new life and Tragedy as Irish pilgrim, 35, drowns during sunset swim in Atlantic after mile hike across northern Terminally ill former police chief, 67, calls for law change so he can end his own life after being Model friend of Boris Johnson at the centre of watchdog probe was invited to meet Prince Andrew at Boris Johnson is referred to police watchdog over friendship with model Jennifer Arcuri after she was given Meghan Markle shares photo after tying yellow ribbon at spot where student was raped and murdered in Cape Revealed: Meghan told entrepreneurs in Cape Town that she's determined to 'fulfil her heart's desires' and Meghan Markle's nephew is arrested 'for wandering around Hollywood while high on drugs, shouting gibberish Prince Harry learns about pioneering project to stop HIV transmitting from mothers to their babies as he A touching homage to Diana, not just a photo opportunity: As Harry follows in his mother's footsteps in Prince Harry meets landmine victim who famously brought Diana to tears 22 years ago during trip to Angola as Almost two thirds of women feel too embarrassed to accept a compliment and are four times more likely to Can you handle pain?

Take our quiz to reveal what levels you experience day-to-day and what you can cope Hundreds take to the streets of central London in protest against prosecution of 'Soldier F' over the Bloody Labour vows to scrap Universal Credit and replace the 'disastrous' reforms with a new system while ditching Tyler's boss, Ms Bloomfield, sends Tyler out to investigate an incident by the river.

Ryan and Dexter spot Peter Umbleby in the park, who has put a notice up about a public meeting to close the skate park and Tyler meets a man, Ralph. Chloe suggests they go to the meeting about the skate park and the young people want Chloe as their spokesperson and she agrees. Tyler meets Ralph again at his house, who is the one who phoned about the incident and Ralph explains to Tyler that developers want him to sell his house and shows him the vandalism in his garden. Tyler shows Jody what the developers want to build and Chloe decides she doesn't want to be a spokesperson when the young people are unconvinced with what she'll say.

Tyler discovers the radio station he is doing work experience is sponsored by the developers, the reason they won't look into Ralph's story and Ms Bloomfield warns Tyler to drop the matter with Ralph. The young people apologise to Chloe and Chloe admits she is scared of letting them down, but she chooses to be the spokesperson again. At the meeting, Mr Umbleby undermines the young people and the other young people start hitting pots and pans. Tyler sees Ralph and Ralph explains he can't leave his home due to the memories he has had with his late wife.

Chloe gets the young people to stop with the pots and pans and Chloe explains what the skate park means to them and Ms Bloomfield invites Tyler to be a guest on the radio the following day to talk about his work experience. Kazima prepares for a college meeting, hoping to do engineering, but Alex turns up. Kazima threatens to phone the police, but he tells her that George is in a bad way. The other young people, Mike and Sam go to a farm and both Dexter and Sam are attracted to farm employee, Anjli. Alex brings George to The Dumping Ground and lets her and Tyler know they've been thrown out of their squat and Alex blames Kazima, but he later apologises.

Candi-Rose screams when her mascara runs on the tractor ride, scaring the animals whilst some of the others have to muck out. Alex and George refuse to leave from the attic, as they have nowhere to go and promised to stay together. May-Li decides to stay with Kazima and Tyler and Candi-Rose asks Ryan on his opinion on whether the animals are happy, but he reckons they're not.

Kazima thinks George and Alex's pact to stay together is preventing George from getting well and Alex getting proper care and George reveals to Kazima he was brought up in care. May-Li is suspicious of what's going on, but Kazima refuses to tell her and May-Li decides to trust her. The animals are let out and Sam helps Anjli round them up and Dexter helps get the bull into his enclosure and Mike and Anjli find Candi-Rose with a sheep and she gives him back when they reassure her he is looked after.

Anjli invites Candi-Rose back to the farm to help out. The young people return home and are not pleased with Alex being there and that children's services have given him permission to stay, but Kazima persuades them to give him a chance. Candi-Rose decides to become vegetarian and Kazima considers a career in the caring profession.

Before May-Li arrives, Kazima, Ryan and Joseph have to move Kazima's wardrobe, which is being picked up by a friend of Mike's relative, Manny, for another wardrobe, which Mike says is cursed. Ryan refuses to help Kazima, so Kazima takes a medal belonging to Ryan's grandfather until he helps. The new wardrobe arrives and they are shocked with the size and they struggle to get it inside. Kazima and Ryan disagree with the wardrobe being cursed, but Joseph gets stuck in the wardrobe. When Kazima and Ryan find things to help get Joseph out, Manny arrives and takes the new wardrobe, so Kazima and Ryan try and find him.

Joseph tries to give them clues to where he is on the phone whilst Manny decides to sell the wardrobe instead of giving it to charity. Joseph tells Kazima and Ryan he's at the docks and his phone dies. The wardrobe is put into a storage container and Joseph uses Ryan's medal as a screwdriver. Kazima and Ryan reach the docks and find Manny and they realise Manny didn't hear Joseph shouting as he wore headphones.

Kazima and Ryan find the boat has gone and as they leave, Ryan spots his medal and Joseph appears, explaining that he escaped through the back. Kazima checks her online appeal she set up to find her father and brother and she receives a message from someone claiming to know the whereabouts of her father. Alex is upset at the realisation that Kazima would leave if she found her family whilst Floss is pleased she has nits, so May-Li applies nit shampoo. Kazima tells Alex it won't harm to open up to people and Kazima is emotional when she receives a video call from her father, who is now living in Denmark and wants Kazima to join him.

Kazima's announcement that she is leaving the following day upsets the other young people, but Tyler persuades them to be happy for Kazima and that they should throw her a party. Kazima's clothes are thrown out of the window by Alex, but Kazima reminds everyone that Alex needs care and Alex tells her that everyone he trusts always leaves him. Kazima introduces Alex to her father by video call and Kazima gives him her necklace. At her party, Kazima gives the young people a present and card and tells them that she will miss them.

The young people have to have another lot of nit shampoo on and they think Alex has nits and Candi-Rose tells them she thinks he stole Kazima's necklace, not knowing she gave it to him. On her last day, Kazima says goodbye to the young people and May-Li drives her to the airport. Alex trashes the mural with paint and Tyler tells them that he didn't steal Kazima's necklace and Tyler tells the young people that they are a family. May-Li realises she passed on headlice, catching it from her own children and Alex reads his letter from Kazima. Kazima arrives in Denmark and is reunited with her father and brother Amir.

Mike finds all the young people on their technology and forces them to hand over their electronics. Ryan tells Alex that he should run away, but refuses to give in to Alex's demand of money and his phone, but tells him he can get all sorts of gadgets. May-Li gives Floss a book from her childhood and after reading it, Floss suggests to the young people they should go an adventure.

Floss is annoyed that Mike has followed them and the young people soon decide to leave. Floss finds a tunnel in the garden and Alex is caught in the drawers, where the young people's electronics and Alex tells Mike that Ryan set him up and threatens to leave. Floss gets locked in the tunnel and uses a radio to communicate. Alex hangs up on Mike's phone call, thinking of leaving, but returns home.


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Alex gets Floss out of the tunnel. Mike gives the young people their technology back, who tell Mike that they have declared Tuesday's as technology free and Mike tells Alex that despite Ryan not admitting to setting him up, he believes Alex. Floss wants to be best friends with Alex and gives him Jeff. Some of the young people are going out to the beach whilst some are remaining behind for the new girl Taz, with Jody selected to look after her. May-Li convinces Taz to go inside. At the beach, Finn, Dexter, Archie and Joseph are taken in by a legend story.

Mike assigns the young people at the beach some different activities and Floss watches Taz unpack in her room as they are sharing. Taz knocks over some snacks when she overhears Jody complain about her to May-Li and Taz throws mud over Jody. Jody covers tape over the cold tap and Taz trashes Sasha's room. At the beach, Finn, Dexter, Archie and Joseph find a message in the bottle and want to find the missing gold.

Taz doesn't want to share with Floss, demanding Jody's room. Jody reminisces about her first day and how Tracy made it fun. Tyler tells Ryan that his behaviour is horrible towards the others and Candi-Rose questions how Sasha behaves. Sasha destroys her and Candi-Rose's sculpture when he makes remarks about how Candi-Rose makes Sasha softer and Candi-Rose runs off when Sasha insults her.

The boys discover something buried in the sand and Jody offers to give her room up for Taz until she settles in before showing her the assault course she did for her. The boys find a chest of gold coins and Taz decides to share with Floss. On Halloween, the young people are introduced to the new night manager, Mimi Blunt. Some of the young people opt out of going to a Halloween show. Mimi demands that Alex empties the vacuum after he refuses to her request and she assigns other chores to the young people.

Tyler finds an old journal behind the skirting board in the kitchen and shares the content of the journal with the others, realising it was written by a young person in care in the s that mentions a ghost and has missing pages. Mimi confiscates the journal and Tyler suggests the young people do a ghost hunt. Tyler and Joseph hunt for clues in the attic and with Alex, they find an entrance to another attic.

Mimi catches Chloe and Candi-Rose looking for the journal in the office, but they manage to talk their way out of trouble and Candi-Rose is freaked out when she thinks she hears a ghost. Chloe and Candi-Rose get the journal and Tyler and Alex are scared when a mysterious figure chases after them.

Candi-Rose opens up about her sister to Chloe and when Mimi gets the young people together, Chloe accuses Mimi of being behind everything as she tried to distract them and wanted all the young people out of the house. Tyler recognises Mimi's locket and the young people establish a connection between a picture from the secret attic and the ghost. The young people lock Mimi into a bedroom and find lamps in the attic that affects the moonlight, which leads them to finding a painting.

They are chased by the mysterious figure and unmask it, who is a woman and they tell Mimi they know she is a former young person named Kerren who tried to figure out the clues when she was a resident and found out about the painting's worth. The mysterious figure woman is revealed to be Kerren's sister and Mimi unintentionally destroys the painting. An electrician is needed to fix wires in Jody's room, so she has to share with Sasha, which doesn't impress either of them.

When Billie and Toni return, Floss plants the doubt that Toni isn't keen on the adoption and Floss tells Billie that she has to make sure that Toni doesn't change her mind. Sasha is annoyed with Jody's snoring and records it, but in the morning, pours water over her. Billie and Floss try to convince Toni that living with lots of other people is annoying. Sasha threatens to play the recording when Jody messes Sasha's things and refuses to tidy up.

Toni announces to Billie that she doesn't want to be fostered and Jody hides Sasha's jacket when Sasha refuses to delete the recording until Jody leaves her room. Billie and Floss lock Toni in the shed and Billie pretends to be herself and Toni to the social worker. Dexter and Archie let Toni out of the shed and the social worker realises what Billie has done and Billie and Toni are both annoyed with each other. Floss tells Toni that despite having a mother, she would like a family and Jody and Sasha apologise to one another.

When the Harper's visit so Billie can talk to them, Toni decides she wants to live with the Harper's and they move in with the Harper's. The young people try to fool Mike that Ashdene Ridge has been sold and bought by a property developer, with Jody filming it. When Mike finds out it is a prank, he confiscates Jody's phone and he is challenged to pull a prank.

Jody almost gets her phone back from the safe, but Mike catches her and May-Li brings new girl Charlie to The Dumping Ground, who wants to set up equipment to look at wildlife. Mike decides to upgrade the security and Gary Bradford from the security firm arrives to install a new safe. To retrieve her phone, Jody gets all the young people in to help her and Ryan decides to help them, but tells them they need Gary's help. Sasha convinces Gary to help them with the new security and after Gary helps them disable the cameras and alarms.

When they open the safe, May-Li arrives with a police officer to arrest Gary, stating he is responsible for robberies and Gary turns out to be Mike in disguise. Mike explains how he did his plan and Charlie returns Jody's phone, which was hidden in the shed by Mike. Sasha gets locked in the bathroom when the handle comes off and the young people notice that Floss smells.

Apprentice Josh gets Sasha out and Floss has a spot on her nose. Josh takes a liking to her and he invites Sasha to a gig whilst Floss uses spot cream, but asks her to a warehouse to see some art. Joseph tells Dexter and Archie that puberty and hormones are the reason Floss and Sasha are being the way they are. Dexter is hurt when Sasha cannot help with his homework, choosing Josh over him.

When Sasha returns home, Mike reprimands her for not having his permission to go out and when Mike refuses to let Sasha go out again with Josh, she argues that she has permission from her mum and social worker. Josh tells Sasha that he got turned down from an art course and Floss sprays herself with deodorant.

Mike invites Josh to stay for dinner and questions him about his education and social life and Dexter does a lie detector test on Josh.

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