Monday, February 05, 2007



Story contd.

When we got home after the lunch party I asked William what he thought of Marta.

‘She seemed to know what she was talking about.’

‘But what did you think of the idea of me trying to model.’

He gave me one of his grown up looks.

‘You’ve always been very pretty dear. And remember that photograph I took?  That won in a national newspaper.  You’ve got nothing to lose.  You might as well give it a go.  You’d have to stop nursing soon when we start a family.’

Why did it always make me furious when William said I was ‘very pretty’?

The next day his mother Dodie came over to see him before he left for London.  She was soon to leave herself; Wallace and Fleur had found her an apartment in Southsea, within reach of them, but not too close.  Her house had been sold, and some of her excess furniture was being stored for us until we were settled in a house.

I had mixed feelings saying goodbye to William at the station.  Part of me was dreading being alone at night but I also felt a frisson at being able to please myself what I did in my spare time; I could eat what and when I liked, go to bed when I liked – keep the light on - reading all night if I liked.  My job would keep me occupied during the day.  I just wasn’t sure how many week-ends alone I could cope with (William’s idea to save money.)

The first week-end I phoned William at his brother’s house he seemed quite cheerful.  He had been looking round a town called New Maldon for a flat, was settling in the job and said I should probably hand in my notice now.  When I told Sister she was very sweet and said how much I’d be missed and that the ward and the children had never looked so well cared for before I came.  That was down to Pendlebury – my training school.

I did what all lonely people do – kept the radio on from dawn till dusk and had long chats with shopkeepers and the ladies in the hat shop, who found it odd that William didn’t come home at the week-end.  The second week-end I was really fed up.  Why did everybody have to be away at the same time, and then I remembered Keith Barker.  He was a bachelor we had come to know – quite studious with a dry sense of humour and we both liked him – which was something of a rarity.  On an impulse I rang him and asked if he would like to go for a walk on Sunday morning.  He immediately said yes and we arranged to meet at 10.30am.

The minute I hung up I regretted it.  What had I done?  A married woman asking a man out.  I was suffused with guilt and didn’t know what to do about it without making an utter fool of myself.  I couldn’t phone him again and say I’d made a mistake.  I went for a walk to calm myself down.  After a while I realised I was near
Carol’s antique shop and had a brainwave.  She was a level headed person and a good friend, maybe she would help me out.

When I told Carol what I’d done she roared with laughter, said I was an idiot to get my knickers in such a twist and of course she would join us.  It turned out to be quite enjoyable after the first flicker of surprise when Keith saw Carol and they both came back and had a simple lunch with me.  That night I phoned William who had been enjoying one of Fleur’s dinner parties.  I put my foot down quite firmly and said he had better be home the next week-end.  Something in my voice must have rung a bell and he got the message.

By Saturday I was in high spirits – everywhere was spick and span, there were fresh flowers, I’d made a trifle, bought a bottle of wine and there was a chicken (still a treat in the fifties) roasting in the oven.  Even the ladies in the shop were excited and beamed at us as we returned from the station.  We both had missed each other and for a while basked in a happy glow.  The bell rang from down stairs to warn us that someone was coming up.  The door opened and in walked Dodie her arms outstretched to embrace her son.


apprentice said...

Hmm all very controlling, I'm glad you rebelled a bit.

Larraine said...

Just when you thought you had him all to yourself!

PI said...

apprentice: it was time!

Larraine: thanks for sympathy. Hope my email may be of help but this comment got through OK.

Drama Queen said...

Oh no. Nice romantic weekend with hubby shot dead by the out-law!!!

I want to hear more about your true love. . .do tell. . .please!

PI said...

DQ: at this stage in the story he's out of my concious mind - goodness knows what's lurking about in the subconcious- to say nothng of dreams. Happily in the present we are together 24/7 - everything crossed:)

Drama Queen said...

I look forward to hearing more. I love your stories. . .

Zinnia Cyclamen said...


PI said...

DQ: that's nice to hear.

Zinnia: you can say that again:)

Sam, Problem-Child-Bride said...

I've had Keith Barker moments too. Times when I've invited a man on a walk or out for coffee just for friendship's sake and then gone into paroxysms of anxiety about how he might have got the wrong idea from my invitation.

I have old dear male friends with whom this would never be a problem but when I moved to Minnesota I found it very difficult to make male friends. "Going for coffee" at the university of Minnesota was apparantly code for something else. Maybe it was a hangover from highschool or something but men and women were hardly ever just friends without romance being involved. I asked the Problem Husband about it and he said "Well yeah, if a girl asked me for a coffee I'd think I'd scored."

I railed against the ridiculousness of this for a while but gradually had to accept the when in Rome view of things.

California isn't nearly as bad. It's a bit more relaxed and men and women are more free to be friends without one or the other getting the wrong idea. Maybe it's just a Minnesota thing. I love Minnesotans but couldn't get my head around some of their tittering Victorian attitudes to men and women being able to have a conversation and a laugh without falling into bed with each other. I used to think we Brits had the corner on seaside humour and putting a faintly naughty cast on everything - and I love a good double entendre - but the Minnesotans are serious about it. No fun. It's very restrictive.

Sam, Problem-Child-Bride said...

What a disappointment that Dodie showed up. That would change the entire mood of the weekend. Do you think she was aware of that or did she just not think about it?

Z said...

The mother-in-law/daughter-in-law relationship is one of the hardest to get right, isn't it. However close you have always been to your son, remembering that he isn't 'yours' any more so much as he's 'hers' is vital. Dodie doesn't come across as the most sensitive of women, however...

kenju said...

How insensitive could she be? That sounds like something my MIL would have done, had she been nearby.

Now, tell me why you didn't like it when William called you "very pretty"? You certainly were!

P.S. Thanks for the visit. I did figure out how to sin in to some blogs, but if I do it that way to all of them, I cannot get into my own dashboard when I want to post or manage comments.

PI said...

Sam: it was even more of a thing in the fifties. The irony is that if I had remotely fancied him I would never have asked him. Maybe he did think he'd got lucky but the appearanc of Carol would have put him right.
I wonder if Minnesota is like Australia where it used to be said that at cocktail parties the men were at one end of the room - women at the other.
Re Dodiie, I like to think that she was competely unaware.

Z: you are right - she wasn't very sensitive and nuances would pass right over her head. I used to think I had a skin missing. She also was quite old- she had William in her forties and wa completely 'pre-war'
Over many years I grew fond of her.

PI said...

Judy: he knew the reaction it would cause. The way he said it - you may be a dumb blonde but never mind dear - you're very pretty. All MYL's fault. I should never have told Willian how I felt about him. He never forgot it.

Re dashboard I find I mostly post from Word - less errors. BTW I kept just missing you all over the week-end.

PI said...

Oh and Judy - I love the thought of you sinning in people's blogs:)

Theblonde said...

Yes, I agree with DQ I do look forward to hearing about how MTL came into your life again...

PI said...

The blonde; a wry smile creeps over my face. Only thirty years to wait!

R. Sherman said...

Good grief.

I need to stop working so much. To many blog entries to read.

So, I'm reading this sentences, which I copy:

And remember that photograph I took? That won in a national newspaper. You’ve got nothing to lose.

And I think, "Well, yeah sure. Pat is babe and half."

Then I read further and behold:

On an impulse I rang him and asked if he would like to go for a walk on Sunday morning. He immediately said yes and we arranged to meet at 10.30am.

Jeez Louise in a basket of fried chicken, dear. You must allow us some rest before these new details.

If I only have half your life.


PI said...

Randall: what's a girl to do? I have les girls wanting me to skip 30 years and get onto MTL and your self wanting me to slow down. Heavens to Betsy you can't please all of the people all of the time but my natural tendency is to smell the daisies.

Guyana-Gyal said...

I don't know if I'm right, I have a feeling that when William said you're pretty, it felt as if he was being patronising or something like that.

And there's Keith Barker, jumping at the chance to walk with you!

Was Dodie a posessive mother-in-law? Or just not aware of what she'd done?

You're going at a fine pace with your story telling, Pat. Keep writing it the way you feel most happy :-)

p.s. that Clifton Suspension Bridge a few posts below makes me dizzy just looking at it :-o

PI said...

GG: yes I did feel patronised. Dodie was both posessive and insensitive. It wasn't done with any malice.