The Middlemarch Singles Ball II

It’s a year since the last singles ball and things have changed in Middlemarch. The ski field is up and running, enjoying its first dump of snow, but Jack, the ball’s committee chairman, has suffered another heart attack and died. Penelope, his wife from Auckland, and her three young children are staying on the farm and running it as best they can. Phyllis, the committee secretary, is also alone, her husband now with the publican Stacey and living in Christchurch. Pete has managed to buy the pub off his ex-wife but the wounds are raw.

Phyllis hesitantly calls the first meeting of the Middlemarch Singles Ball committee, not sure who will turn up, or even if there should be another ball. They need a new chairman, they need a quorum to vote in a new chairman. Greg arrives, and Penelope, and then, to Phyllis’ horror, Pete. To make matters worse, Greg and Pete quickly vote Penelope in as the new chair. But Phyllis hopes none of it will matter as she wants to end the ball once and for all. Why have it? All the men have wives now so what’s the point. Greg, backed by Pete, counters there are several women in the district who, for one reason or another, are now alone and maybe they could have the ball again but invite single men and single women from away. The two men take over the voting and the decision is made – the ball will be held again.

However the ball committee’s own two single women, Penelope and Phyllis, don’t want to go as singles to the ball, and the rest of the widowed, divorced and otherwise lonely women in Middlemarch don’t want to either. They’ve taken up residence in Pete’s pub in the evenings, buying one drink and, instead of talking, staring sadly off into the distance. Even the shearing gang are afraid to come in for a beer. Meanwhile, Greg is trying to stay only friends with Phyllis and Penelope is struggling to manage the farm without Jack. She’s unwillingly to send the lambs she and her daughters have cared for through the spring and summer to the freezing works to be killed.

The men finally coax, persuade and blackmail the single Middlemarch women to buy tickets to the ball. Pete even plucks up courage and asks Phyllis out but there is still a problem. The women may be coming to the ball, but that doesn’t mean they’ll be the life of the party. Pete and Greg resort to lessons on how to smile (one side of the face at a time) but it doesn’t work. On the night of the ball, the single Middlemarch women are in the marque staring sadly off into the distance as the train pulls into the station with hundreds of singles on board wanting to meet the person of their dreams.