Testing Times - Chapter 6 "Economical With The Truth"

Testing Times - A Tommy & Tamara Story  

Part Six


"Economical with the truth"

Saturday 18th April (Continued)

Tammy only had a couple of hours before they were expected at Elsie McPherson's home for the engagement party. That meant not having any time to help Sarah and not allowing Angela to delay her; her sister was in Sarah's storeroom.

"I'm leaving now, otherwise you'll have to make your own way home."

"I'm busy, mum will collect me later."

"Mum's got to get herself, and dad probably, ready. She does not have the time to be a taxi service. If you want a lift, I'm going to my car now."

Angela was not happy but was too proud to admit that Tammy was right. They pulled into the driveway without exchanging any words during the journey.

"Can you open the gate for me, please?"

"Do it yourself!" Angela was out of the car and in through the front door, leaving Tammy to take her Mini through the gate into the paddock behind the house, closing the gate behind her.

"What did you say to Angela?"

"Only that we needed to get back here, she seemed to want to stay in town. I don't know what I'm supposed to have interrupted."

"She reckons you were rude in front of Sarah."

"Mum, Sarah wasn't anywhere near. I really don't know what's up with her but I need to shower as we're expected at five?"

"I'll talk to your sister but right now I don't know if she'll be at the party."

Tammy shrugged and continued into her room. The first job should have been a spot of lunch but her appetite was temporarily absent. A couple of minutes later a warm shower washed away the day. There was a message waiting on her phone when she returned to her room.

"What's up with Angela? She just told me she won't be there?"
"No idea, Tanya, she didn't want to come back with me."
"What are you wearing?"
"Nothing at the moment, just out of the shower."
"Not that!"
"Oh, haven't decided."
"Don't clash with me!"
"No chance, is John in that suit again?"
"He won't say."
"Okay, I'll see what my dad's doing."
"Put something on first."

Tammy put the phone down, deciding it might need some charge if she was going to use the camera later. She started going through the racks, trying to decide on the appropriate frock. Whatever one she wore, it had to satisfy her parents, Tanya and Elsie. The hardest critic of these was Elsie McPherson.

Tammy kept looking at the dresses she'd bought a week earlier in Glasgow but decided they were not right for the event. The ideal solution here was a dress that Elsie would approve of, leaving no issues with anyone else.

Hiding in a dry-cleaning bag was a knee length white dress Tammy had worn at school on the last day of term before the Easter break, when she wasn't dressed as Lady Macbeth. The tartan sash that went with the dress was hanging with it, now where was an appropriate broche?

Now Tammy had decided on the dress she worked out her lingerie, decided she could add a bolero jacket to cover her shoulders.

There was a knock on the door. Tammy checked she was decent, wrapping a dressing gown around herself before admitting the caller.

"Miss Smart, I made you a sandwich."

"Thank you Leanne."

"Do you need anything pressed?"

"I don't think so, did you send this dress for cleaning?"

"Yes Miss."

"I don't suppose you know what everyone else is wearing, do you?"

"Mr Smart is wearing a kilt, I've also been told that Mr Hibbert is in a kilt."

"Which Mr Hibbert, junior or senior?"

"I'm sorry Miss, I don't know."

"Okay, Leanne, I suppose this dress will do."

"I don't think I could offer an opinion, Miss."

"Why ever not? Is this a good idea?"

"Anna tells me that Andrea and Alison have both chosen white."

"I never knew the twins were here."

"They arrived this lunchtime, Miss."

"Oh well, I need to choose something else."

"You have a peach dress Miss, have you considered it?"

Peach dress

Tammy hadn't spotted this dress in her haste, although in fairness it was in a garment bag.

"I don't remember this one, I certainly didn't buy it for myself."

"Oh, I think Mrs Small bought this for you when she was in London. Sorry, Miss."

"Leanne, don't be sorry. I believe I have a white shawl to wear with it."

"You do, Miss, shall I get it?"

"No need, but thank you for what you've done."

"Just doing my job, Miss."

"And doing it very well."

"Will there be anything else?"

"No, thank you. The maid left Tammy's room, so she sat to eat the sandwich that had been brought to her. Tammy's heair had unfortunately dried before she could style it so she had to dampen it and reach for the chemicals. She didn't hear her door open.


"Don't do that!"

"Sorry, but I was knocking and I didn't get an answer."

"That's because, sis, I was in here and the door closes by itself."

"Well, I'm sorry."

"Okay, Andrea, but I don't know what it was all about?"

"Yusuf asked me out."

"That's nice, when?"


"Oh, that's bad timing."

"Yeah, and he said after the theatre that if I wasn't free today, I should forget another time."

"That sounds like you were being setup to be stood up. He must know about the engagement party, so what's his problem?"

"I felt awful, choosing."

"Then you should have said something, but, and this is a big but, I really don't think he was being genuine."

"Why would he do that?"

"There's a load of possible reasons, we'll ask him on Wednesday evening. Did you give him your mobile number?"


"Angela, you need to wise up, take more care of yourself. It's a big bad world out there."

"Am I going to be left on the shelf?"

"You're eighteen with a whole lifetime ahead. You'll find a boy, or girl, in good time."

"That's easy to say."

"I know it's easy to say, but relationships are not available by mail order, regardless of the advertising. You might meet someone tonight."

"I won't know anyone there."

"You'll know almost everyone. The twins are in town."

"They're okay."

"Don't be sour, Angela. What are you wearing?"

"I don't know."

"Have you looked in your wardrobes?"


"Look, can I do my hair first? You haven't showered have you?"


"Then get your rear into the shower. I'll come along in about ten or fifteen."


Tammy finally put her hair into a workable style then started on her make-up, whilst still in her gown. She padded along the corridor to Angela's room, knocking gently. She could hear sobbing so pushed the door open.

Angela had made it through the shower but that was as far as she'd gone.

"We have an hour Angela, please don't use all of it."

"I can't go."

"Why not?"

"I just can't."

"Okay, you can't. I'll be in my room doing my nails if you change your mind."

Tammy turned and almost reached the door.


Tammy turned but said nothing.

"He sent me a message."

"I thought you didn't give him your number?"

"He sent a friend request then started messaging me." She started sobbing again, handing Tammy her phone.

"Did you speak to him?"

"No, I was going to the library when you insisted I came back here."

Tammy read some of the messages. "This looks awful Angela, but it's not Yusuf."

"He asked if I enjoyed the theatre this morning."

"You've been going there for two months, quite a few at school would know your movements by now."

""How sure are you that it's not Yusuf?"

"He doesn't have Facebook on his phone, his phone makes phone calls, that's about all it does."

"So I've been had?"


"I feel stupid."

"Don't, but you do need to get ready. Oh, who did you see in town this morning?"

"Not many, what are you thinking?"

"Just an idea. Now, turn off your phone and forget all of this. You need to do your hair and choose a frock."

"Thanks, sis."

"That's alright, do you want me to look for a dress for you?"

"No, I can do it myself."

Tammy finally started doing her nails and had recently treated herself to a ultraviolet nail drier; she was drying the base coat when Joan came into Tammy's room.

"What's going on?"

"We're getting ready, Angela included with any luck."

"Yes, I just came from there but now she won't tell me what the problem was."

"We've not long worked it out, she'll be a bit embarrassed right now and I don't want to ruin the evening."

"So the two of you have sorted out your differences?"

"It wasn't like that, how much time do we have?"

"Just over half an hour, and don't change the subject."

"I didn't, there's nothing to worry about now."

"If you say so?"

"I do. Thanks for the dress, by the way."

"I didn't buy it."

"Neither did I, Leanne said you'd bought it in London."

"We hardly brought anything back that we didn't take there. I left a change of clothes in the apartment."

"So who bought me the dress?"

"It looks lovely, worry about it later."

"But ....."

"Later, I'll check on your sister."


The party started as a reception in the lounge and the conservatory. Tammy's initial thoughts as the meet-and-greet were that Sandy Smith looked a little out of place, where as Daniel Hibbert was definitely in his element.

"Hello Richard, thank you for coming."

"Considering, Daniel, that my daughter put the happy couple together I don't think you'd have kept us away."

"So this is the lovely Tamara?"

"Tammy, Mr Hibbert."

"If you'll be formal, then so shall I, Miss Smart."

"Touché, Mr Hibbert."

"I would introduce my dear wife, Elaine, but she's busy with the Headmaster. I keep telling her it's too late to buy that boy his exam results."

Daniel laughed, Tammy had thought for a desperate moment that he was being serious, she made her escape before another awful joke was made at her school friend's expense.

Joan had made a beeline for Sandy, whilst Angela was with Josie and Debbie. Tammy took an aperitif off a tray before realising that the waitress was Leanne. Now was not the time to ask questions. Tammy was heading across to where she could see the twins when she was intercepted by the Head's wife, Anne McIntosh.

"Now, Tammy, this is Elaine Hibbert."

"We met last night, Mrs McIntosh, Elsie invited us to dinner here."

Elaine Hibbert, however, seemed confused "I'm not sure if we've met?"

"I was John's room-mate for several years."

"He roomed with a girl? How could that happen?"

Tammy didn't know what to say, fortunately Dr McIntosh realised what was going on and called John across.

"Mum, this is Tammy, who I mentioned. She put me and Tanya together."

"The match-maker?"

"That's right, she's very closely related to Tom who was my room-mate."

"I thought she said she'd been your room-mate?"

"You must have mis-heard, Mum. Can I borrow Tammy for a minute?"

John pulled her away. "John, why lie to her?"

"She has terrible memory problems at the moment, her short-term memory is awful and she mixes up older memories. What you said to her last night has already been lost. Dad and I have given her a version of your connection to me that's almost true."


"Your Dad's a diplomat, isn't he?"

"He tries."

"I would have thought that implied telling the truth?"

"No Tammy, it implies telling people the truth they expect or want to hear."


"No, just a little economical with the truth sometimes."

"So what happens when someone contradicts the official story?"

"Most of the people here didn't know Tom, and that rules out virtually all the women and all of the younger ladies. Tanya didn't ever meet Tom, did she?"


"There you go, it's manageable."

"I'll have to let mum, Mrs Small, know."

"Mrs McIntosh has her now, and is pointing in your direction."

"Oh well."

"Calm down."

"I am. Anyway, I thought you'd be in a kilt, not that awful suit?"


"It doesn't suit you, if you forgive the pun."

"That pun never gets forgiven."

A moment later Tanya had stolen John away and Tammy was on her own. When she looked to where the twins had been stood, they had moved.

For the first hour Tammy shuffled around the rooms until Thomas announced dinner. For that they walked out to the marquee on the lawn. Tammy wasn't sure about this, given that it was still April in the Highlands and a week earlier there had been snow on the ground.

She needn't have worried, the marquee was warm and inviting, dressed as a dining hall. She now tried to gauge how many guests there were, but lost count around forty. It seemed Elsie had been involved with the seating plan as Tammy was sat next to Sandy Franklin and a young man she didn't recognise.


"Hi, I'm James Hibbert."

"John doesn't have a brother."

"I'm a cousin and I got an invite, neat!"

"How old are you?"


"Then you won't be needed any alcohol." Tammy looked up and caught Thomas' eye.

"I'll just ask the waitresses."

"Good luck with that, two of them work for me."

"How did I end up next to you? Who got the seating wrong?"

"You have the mistress of the house, the head of the Clan McPherson, to thank for that."

By now there were no empty seats so James was stuck. Tammy's attention turned to Sandy on her left, as the starter was being served.

"Angela had a problem with Yusuf today."

"What's the boy done?"

"Nothing, but someone is impersonating him on Facebook and running rings around poor Angela."

"I'll warn him."

"What I want to do is to set a trap."

"Be careful, I'm sure my husband would warn you about such things."

"He would, but this is something simple, just to expose the miscreant if we can."

"Okay, but promise me you won't take any risks."

"I promise."

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