Friday, June 16, 2006

A BURNING QUESTION

Story contd.

It had been a hectic day: off duty at 1.45pm and then took two buses to the Millers to leave my overnight stuff. The next day, Sunday, was to be Maria’s birthday. She was having a big party and I would be able to help. After an afternoon of playing with the children Hector gave me a lift back to hospital and with the help of a couple of chums I got ready for the dance

I couldn’t help giggling when Andrew and Bill arrived – not only was the car an old banger it was tiny. Mary and I squashed ourselves in the back seat and even if our transport was humble I think we all looked the bee’s knees. It was a beautiful June evening with one of the lurid sunsets that Manchester was famous for and it felt deliciously decadent to be setting off at that time of night.

When we reached the base two ratings darted forward to open the doors to find there were no handles. By now any nervousness was dissipated with gales of laughter. The d├ęcor was magical and there was a fountain and three bands. There was a tremendous buzz everywhere and after my first ever gin and tonic I was dancing on air. I remember one moment in the ladies cloakroom – fragrant with fresh roses and a girl in a white dress was talking to an older woman. Apparently it was mother and daughter and the girl was wearing her wedding dress as an evening gown and needed to be reassured that she looked great. I wondered if being a naval wife meant you were constantly being checked to see if you measured up. I wouldn’t like that at all I decided.

Mary and Bill seemed to be enjoying themselves. I hoped she wasn’t going to get squiffy (inebriated) with all the hospitality but decided as she was older then me she would have enough sense not to. The food was superb and demonstrated how brilliant the navy were at this sort of thing. At some stage Andrew introduced me to the captain who was sweet and patted my hand. I suppose it was the equivalent of me introducing someone to Matron – so naturally one would want it to go well. Andrew seemed ecstatic and as the evening flew by, I knew how Eliza Dolittle felt when she sang ‘I could have danced all night.’

At first the car wouldn’t start but the ratings – laughing their heads - off pushed us until it did. Somewhere on the East Lancs road Andrew and I were sitting in the back seat bumpily trying to kiss when the car lurched to a halt. Bill and Mary vanished into the darkness. I turned to Andrew aghast.

‘I don’t know Mary very well but I never thought she was that sort of girl.’ I felt worried and responsible

‘Its OK Pat. I asked Bill to give us some time alone.’

I looked at him in the gloom – suddenly stone cold sober.’

‘Will you marry me?’

16 comments:

Granny said...

Wow. The line I've been waiting for. Now I have to wait for the answer.

AndrewM said...

Blimey!

Manchester's famous sunsets....

must have been the pollution.

PI said...

Granny: Sorry about that:) Is that a smiley face?

andrewm : d'you know I think you're right.

R. Sherman said...

Nice cliff-hanger.

Cheers.

Kath said...

Oh wow! How can you do this to us!
Will be checking back every hour on the hour for the next post ;o) (winking face)

And I love the My Fair Lady reference, it's a wonderful feeling

Z said...

Oh wow. You're not going to leave us waiting all over the weekend, are you?

Anna Maria Esperanza said...

Ooooh looks like I tuned in at the right time. I've only recently discovered your blog, so how old where you at the time? I'm guessing around 20? I can only say a question like that would scare the living daylights out of me at this point.

PI said...

Randall, kath and z: I've spent the whole week talking in song (it happens sometime)and all I can say is 'Monday Monday!'

Anna Maria: welcome! I had just turned nineteen and felt the same way.

OldHorsetailSnake said...

Zounds!! Now that is what I would call a plot thickener...

amy said...

how romantic!
but what a huge question!

your story-telling is great, the writing would be enough on its own to keep me coming back for the next instalment, but a big part of what's fascinating to me about your stories is the insight into a set of expectations and rules of interaction that are quite alien to my own experience. it's a cultural logic of a time and place that's simultaneously familiar and exotic -- in context, it would be known that this, this, and this mean this and probably lead to this... but what are the this's? i know enough to recognise the individual this's, but not enough to know what they might be foreshadowing, what the implications are. it makes the story quite exciting.
if that makes any sense at all outside my own head?

i guess what i'm asking is... were you surprised when he proposed? surprised not by the specific moment of the question, or the setting, but by the timing?
or did the nature of your interactions with him to that point mean that it was something you suspected might be on the cards?

PI said...

Hi Hoss: whither next?

Amy: thank you for your thoughtful and perceptive comment and I welcome your question which figures largely in my next post. I hope you will forgive me for not jumping the gun. :o)

Z said...

hm. Monday. You know only too well where that leaves us on Saturday and Sunday; on the edge of our seats.
Fair enough, it's your story, a fascinating one being told by a real storyteller.
xx

PI said...

Forgive me Zoe. The only way I can cope is by having some sort of routine with the house, the family, the garden and the blog. Fortunately at present I seem to be wide awake at 5am so can get an early start before petering out. Poor old thing!

fjl said...

Patti it sounds more like a ghost story than a proposal.

Tell the truth were you disappointed?

x

Some proposals I've had have made me lift my eyes to heaven in dismay.

Milt Bogs said...

Bloody Hell - I can remember people getting arrested for that sort of thing on the East Lancs Road.

PI said...

Felicity: not disappointed more amazed. I just hadn't seen it coming. How many have you had?

Hi Milt and welcome. I take it you are familiar with that part of the world?