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Mr and Mrs River Oils

Large house

Image: A house similar to Mr & Mrs Rivers

One day, I was sent to assist two engineers Peter and John at a large 20+ bedroom pile set in its own grounds in Ilkley Yorkshire, this was the family residence of Mr and Mrs River of River Oils, a family business. The house had been grand in the 1920’s but was looking dated and in need of some repair now.

The installation of a new intruder alarm started with the tracing of the existing cables etc. to determine what could be re used and what needed to be replaced, it was tedious work as we had to take great care with step ladders etc. not to mark the polished wood doors or knock paintings, ornaments etc. so it took three of us to do the work of one.

Right from the start it was clear that Mr and Mrs River did not want us there, this was made obvious by their actions, 
they never spoke to us, if we walked into a room where they were present, they immediately collected their things and walked out.

The house had a dozen or more antique clocks, none of which were working and all showing different times. Time went quickly the first day and we suddenly realised it was nearly five o’clock and we had not stopped for lunch, mainly because no one had offered us a drink all day. 

The second day was much the same although we sat in the car for our sandwiches at mid-day.

That evening John, a scout leader, simply stated, right that’s enough, we will get hot drinks tomorrow, I shall ensure it. Peter and I wondered how he would ensure that we got drinks but thought, we will see soon enough.

Wednesday at ten o’clock there was a sudden unexpected occurrence, Mrs River suddenly arrived in the room we were working in and spoke to us, “what is your colleague doing” she enquired, in Queen's English, pointing out of the window towards the immaculate back lawn. 

Peter and I looked out to where she had pointed, we could see John in the middle of the lawn with a camping stove, kettle, water, and cups. Peter took the impetus and replied, “it looks like he is making himself a cup of tea”. Immediately Mrs River replied, “Oh, tell him to stop, I will ask the cook to make you some tea”. 

She left the room and Peter said, she is only bothered because of what the neighbours may think, he and I both had to stifle our laughter so as not to be heard. 

Sure enough, Tea was served, with biscuits and even on one occasion with cake three times a day on a silver tray by ‘cook’ from that day forward.