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epilogue
chapter 23
chapter 22
chapter 21
chapter 20
chapter 19
chapter 18
chapter 17
chapter 16
chapter 15
chapter 14
chapter 13
chapter 12
chapter 11
chapter 10
chapter 9
chapter 8
chapter 7
chapter 6
chapter 5
chapter 4
chapter 3
chapter 2
chapter 1

The Famous Five: The Final Adventure.
A Tribute to Enid Blyton.

Chapter 6.
The Seminar Preparation.

The next morning found Anne outside Vivien's room. She had spoken to the others the night before.

The five had gathered in the boys' room. Julian and Dick lay on their respective beds. Both Anne and George lounged in a chair, with Timmy slumped at George's feet.
   "Don't you think Vivien was very quiet today," Anne had said.
   Julian pursed his lips. "I can't say that I had noticed."
   "It could be that the four of us know each other so well," continued Anne, "that we exclude others without meaning too. Perhaps if we all make a bit of an effort to involve her in our activities, she will feel more accepted."
   "You can count on me, Anne," said Julian, with a smile, "I will pay her so much attention it is possible she will become big-headed."
   "I'll have some of that," volunteered Dick, eagerly. He was fond of the raven-haired beauty.
   George looked on in disdain. "You can jolly well count me out. Vivien is behaving like a stupid girl and you three are simply sucking up to her."
   "You only think that way because she doesn't fawn over Timmy as you do," defended Anne.
   Timmy lifted his head at the mention of his name, saw he was not required and slowly returned to a contented slumber.
   Anne continued. "Tomorrow we are helping to prepare for the seminar. I will ask Vivien if she will join us."

That is how Anne came to be knocking on Vivien's door.
   Vivien was genuinely pleased to see Anne. "Won't you come in," she said, "I have almost finished getting ready."
   Vivien's room was Anne's idea of perfection: Neat, tidy and most important of all, feminine. Vivien's personality was stamped everywhere. Perfume, make-up, jewellery and colourful enamel hair-combs liberally covered the dressing table, but in an orderly fashion.
   The open wardrobe revealed a line of elegant dresses for all occasions. A pure silk Japanese dressing gown lay across the bed and on the pillow sat the most gorgeous golden teddy bear that Anne had ever seen.
   "Oh! What a lovely teddy," exclaimed Anne, giving him a big cuddle. "His twinkling brown eyes seem to appreciate all that goes on."
   Vivien smiled at Anne's enthusiasm. "Yes they do, don't they. His name is Leo because, although he is a bear, his heart is of a lion. It was the last present given to me by my mother. I refuse to go anywhere without him."
   "Are you helping with the seminar preparation today?" asked Anne, gently broaching the subject.
   Vivien frowned. "I am not too sure," she said. "To be truthful I have a feeling that George does not like me very much."
   Anne gave a polite laugh. "George is very hard to get on with at first," she admitted. "Most people have the same problem. But deep down she has a heart of gold. When she makes friends she is very loyal. It would make us all very happy if you joined us today."
   "You are very kind," replied Vivien, smiling again. "Put like that, how can I refuse?"

The Conference Room was light and spacious. The highly polished floor was of the finest redwood parquet and the false ceiling had an abundance of sunken fluorescent lights. A bank of windows stretched along the far wall, broken only by a pair of French windows that opened out onto a courtyard. Positioned at one end of the hall was a stage hidden behind luxurious, red velvet curtains. Occasionally a strange eerie blue light emanated from the gap beneath.
   Aunt Fanny was in deep conversation with a short, stout fair-haired man, when the children arrived. He wore a pink shirt, white slacks, canvass shoes and a bright red paisley cravat.
   "Rather effeminate," thought Anne.
   "May I introduce you to Mr Pope, children," said Aunt Fanny, breaking off her conversation. "He is the seminar organiser and will be telling you what needs to be done." She looked around nervously and lowered her voice. "May I ask you to work as quiet as possible. Uncle Quentin and Professor Dandashi are preparing the laser demonstration on the stage. I believe it is not necessary to remind you that Quentin requires silence when he is busy."
   The eyes of George, Anne and the two boys widened. They had all in the past felt the brunt of one of Uncle Quentin's rages.
   "We promise to be as quiet as mice, Mother," assured George.
   After the introductions, Mr Pope produced a sheet of paper. "Here is a plan of how I would like the tables and chairs arranged. As you can see the chairs are to be placed in ten crescent shaped rows facing the stage. Behind," he continued, indicating with his finger, "are tables for the guests to sit at while eating their buffet."
   He stooped down and picked up a large folder leaning against the wall. "I have here some posters explaining the applications of lasers in industry. I would like these pinned up on the walls in numerical order." He looked up at the five eager faces. "Does anyone have any questions?"
   "Yes I have," piped up Dick. "Where do we find the tables and chairs?"
   Mr Pope looked slightly embarrassed. "Oh! Silly me. Fancy forgetting that. The storeroom is situated further along the corridor behind the stage."

The storeroom proved to be dark and dingy, with a peculiar dusty smell. Stacks of tables, chairs and other odd apparatus filled every available space.
   Dick picked up the nearest stack of chairs. "I will be able to carry five chairs at a time." He boasted.
   Vivien was attempting to prise a large green baize covered panel away from the wall. "These look like free standing exhibition displays," She announced. "They would be ideal for pinning up the posters."
   "Let's assemble these along the walls first," added Anne, "then us girls could fix the posters while you boys carry in the tables and chairs."
   Julian nodded in agreement. "A jolly good idea girls. Well done. Dick, pull out that display and I'll grab the other end."
   The two boys carried one panel and the three girls another. Working together the children quickly had the panels fitted in a zigzag fashion against the two walls leading up to the stage.
   "If you girls have got all you require," said Julian, "Dick and I will make a start on the tables and chairs."
   "Yes. Thanks Julian," replied Anne, "we have the posters and here is a box of drawing pins."

Later on Mr Pope appeared, beaming from ear to ear, just as the children had finished.
   "Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful," he praised, arms open wide, swivelling at the waist, surveying the scene in a most flamboyant fashion. "The exhibition panels are magnificent. Where did you get them? Don't tell me. Don't tell me. Suffice to say they are 'magnifique'! Gather round. Gather round. I have further tasks for you all."
   Mr Pope's bustling, infectious manner had the effect of giving those near by inspiration and confidence. "Tomorrow I would like you to greet the guests and show them to their seats. Would you do that for me?"
   The children nodded, enthusiastically.
   Mr Pope continued with almost no time for breath. "Here is a list of all those invited and a box of I.D. cards. Each card has the guest's name and seat number printed in bold type. It is imperative the correct person sits in his or her allocated seat. Do I make myself clear? Imperative. Heads could roll!"
   Mr Pope had the children's undivided attention. Anne could almost see herself kneeling before a big chopping block. A muscular man in a black tee-shirt and hood holding a large sharp axe aloft, ready to swing it down with a swish, severing her head clean off and depositing it into the waiting basket.
   "The guest of honour is Sir Pete Brooke, The Home Secretary," continued Mr Pope. "He will be sitting in the very centre of the front row. I have some stickers here for the seat numbers. Number the seats as per the diagram I have given you. And lastly this box contains plastic holders for the I.D. cards. The clip on the back is for attaching onto a lapel or whatever. Any questions?"
   This time there were none. In fact the children looked a little shell-shocked at the amount of information that had been thrown at them.
   "Look at all the important people invited." Said Vivien, scanning the guest list. "Lords and Ladies, Ministers, MPs and even the Presidents of I.C.I. and B.P."
   "Yes, it certainly is impressive," Gulped Anne. "Fancy us having to meet all these people. I am beginning to feel nervous already."
   "Don't be daft, Anne," said Dick, giving her a reassuring squeeze. "They will probably be as normal as we are. Take this name for instance. Lord Tonypandy. How can you ever be afraid of someone called Tonypandy."    "Buck up you four," interrupted Julian, "or we'll never get all our jobs done. You girls can put the I.D. cards into the holders while Dick and I write out the seat numbers with these thick felt tip pens."
   The children were so busy working away that they did not notice Louise appear holding aloft a large, oblong tray.
   She grinned mischievously. "I do hope you are not too pre-occupied for a little treat." She placed the tray on the table. "Had you forgotten? It is Good Friday?"
   "Wow! Hot cross buns and oodles of delicious butter."
   They each grabbed a plate and without ceremony proceeded to tackle the mound of steaming buns amidst loud howls of delight.
   Without warning, a loud thunderous roar froze them all in their tracks.
   "SILENCE!" bellowed Uncle Quentin. He stood erect on the stage, red faced and very angry. "How do you expect Professor Dandashi and myself to concentrate with your continuous childish babbling? If I hear one more sound you will all be banished back to school, post haste."
   After one final sweeping glare, Uncle Quentin performed a smart about turn and, after fumbling to find the gap in the curtains, disappeared from whence he came.
   The children looked at each other in a mixture of amazement and fear.
   "I think it would be wise for us to move to another room," said Julian, in an almost whisper.
   "We have a staff canteen adjoining the kitchen," suggested Louise. "You could hold a full blown wedding reception in there and nobody would complain."
   Julian nodded in agreement. "That sounds ideal. Lead the way Louise."
   In the safety of the canteen the hot-cross buns were devoured with relish and the final work completed.
   "Do you feel brave enough to help me stick the numbers onto the chairs, Julian?" grinned Dick.
   Julian looked doubtful. "Only if you go in first and check if all is quiet."
   The two boys crept off, giggling nervously.

Much later, Mr Pope burst into the canteen in his usual fashion. "So this is where you have all been hiding yourselves. I was beginning to think you had done a runner."
   "I am afraid to say we were told off for making too much noise in the Conference Room." explained Julian.
   "Never mind, never mind," returned Mr Pope, sympathetically, "I will mention in my report of your valuable assistance." He then produced two more boxes and placed them on the table. "You will be pleased to know these are the last of my surprise packages." He tapped the larger box. "In here are some information pamphlets and the other contains pieces of dark perspex. I would like you to give every guest one of each. Don't ask me what the dark perspex is for, because I haven't a clue. I am merely relaying instructions from Professor Dandashi."
   Mr Pope, constantly on the move, hurried off to make other arrangements.
   "I am going to take a final look at the Conference Room," announced Vivien, getting up.
   "Hold on a sec., Vivien," said Julian, "we'll all come."
   At the back of the hall canteen staff had set up a long table supported by trestles and were now busily covering this with ornately embroidered tablecloths. Alongside stood a cold drinks machine and a coffee percolator
   Anne was very impressed. "I do hope everything goes well tomorrow."
   I am sure they will, Anne. But beware! Events might take a sudden twist.

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