Saturday, August 20, 2016

Chapter 15 

Back to Reality


“Hey!  Break it up you two.  It’s great to see you Jamie!” 

Alec was grinning from ear to ear – at last he wasn’t solely responsible for two inexperienced climbers.

I realised Jamie had been travelling all night,

”I’ll go and fix an extra breakfast with the warden and Alec show Jamie where the showers are.  It’s all been paid for remember.  Ginny go and grab a table please.”

We had just one more night before the end of our magical holiday and decided to simply do the long walk to Keswick with no deviations so we could catch up on our doings and give Jamie a chance to recover from his ordeal.  He told me he had confided in one of his uncles about our falling in love and the uncle had strongly urged him to get back here before the end of the holiday.  I blessed that uncle.   Maddie had once met Jamie’s parents and said only ‘a guid Scots girl’ would be good enough for their sons but Liam, his elder brother at Yale married Ruth – an Austrian Jewess who – with her parents had fled the holocaust.

 He showed me an enormous darning needle that his grandfather used to darn his socks – he had left it to Jamie.

  Another beautiful day and although there was an air of melancholy that our happy foursome was coming to an end Jamie was coming home with me and we would have Saturday and part of Sunday together.  I decided that when I got home I would do the unheard of and phone Matron to ask if I could have an extra day – Monday - as my day off.

 We turned up by Rogue Herries – climbed lots of walls and whilst resting under a bridge were caught up by four American girls. They were very friendly and seemed mesmerised by Jamie.  To our amusement and Jamie’s discomfiture they asked if they could take a photo of him.  They did so and went on their way whilst we teased Jamie unmercifully.  It was an eye opener- I had always been fairly immune to his good looks – it was himself I loved.

  By the time we reached Keswick we were tired, hot, dirty and hungry so we went in search of food.  To our horror (Ginny and I) we saw our least favourite Ward Sister – a chilling reminder that all good things come to an end.  It didn’t stop us demolishing Fairy Floss, cherries, peaches and short bread however.

  The hostel was a bit of a disappointment but Ginny and I donned our dresses for the last time, we all had a very merry supper and set off for a local tavern.  After drinking cider all sadness disappeared.  Jamie and I had a prolonged goodnight kiss and inadvertently were locked out of the hostel.  Safely inside again we adjourned to the stairs until rudely interrupted by the assistant warden and dispatched to our separate dormitories.

Both Ginny and I woke early and at 4.45 am walked down to the lake and saw Keswick in all its early morning glory.  A mist was rising and four beautiful chestnut horses were standing under a tree.  We gazed at them in awed silence.

  After breakfast and our obligatory duties we found a café and had one of our usual feasts – a last supper before we bade a tearful farewell to Alec.  What a star he had been.  Jamie and he were meeting up in Scotland later to climb in Skye.  I wondered if

the four of us would ever come together again.  On the bus to Ambleside we admired the scenery and decided Thirlmere was our favourite lake.  Ginny and I went to collect the rucksack we had left there and Jamie went to buy sandwiches – Heaven Forefend that we should go a couple of hours without food.  At Kendal Ginny found she had the wrong rucksack.  Jamie didn’t flap - just dashed off again to sort it whilst we two girls applied Nivea cream in Kendal High Street in a last frantic effort to achieve a honey brown skin tone.  Tans were rare in the forties – nobody went abroad for holidays. We were both fair so the nearest we ever got was a pinky gold.

 As the scenery changed from green hills and mountains to industrial towns with blackened factories I felt the usual droop in spirits at leaving the Lakes.  I knew Ginny felt the same and we tried hard to keep smiling when we said goodbye. Neither of us knew where our next assignment would be.

  At last we were home and it felt really special having Jamie there.  Mum and Dad were very sympathetic about the loss of his grandfather and marvelled at all we had accomplished on our holiday. 

“Honestly Dad if you and Mum hadn’t dragged us up Hellvellyn and Skidaw when I was knee high to a grasshopper – I couldn’t have done it.”

“You would have been proud of her Mr Barnes.”  Jamie was my champion.

  When Maddie appeared I told them I was going to finish with Andrew.  After supper we walked Maddie down to the aunts and on the way back I stopped at the phone booth opposite the Globe Mill.   I told Jamie I was going to try to get hold of Andrew.

To my amazement I actually got straight through to him.  Trying to keep my voice normal I told him I was back and would get in touch as soon as I knew my off- duty and arrange to meet.  I had to tell him in person but I was dreading it.

  Back home we had a lovely chat with Mum and Dad and then – exhausted went to bed- I in the room I shared with Gran  - she was in the States visiting her other daughter – and Jamie in Evan’s room – he was on holiday.

Next morning I saw my parents off, made breakfast and took a cup of tea to Jamie.

I completely forgot it was Wakes Week when all the shops were closed and when Rossendale lived up to its nickname – The Valley of Death - and let poor Jamie go off in a fruitless search for a haircut.  I didn’t mind the longer locks but Jamie dressed for climbing was looking decidedly scruffy – especially in the trouser department, so I purloined a pair of Evan’s trousers – beautifully pressed – Mum was an excellent valet - and then he looked presentable if a little rakish.

The only time my sweet-tempered brother got angry with me was when he discovered what I had done.  So sorry Evan.

  We went to the Aunts for tea and came back with Maddie - our chaperone and her baby.  I enjoyed showing off my skill bathing and feeding the baby.  As baby nurse on the wards I was used to doing six of the little loves every four hours.

Eventually with Maddie and the baby in bed we were alone.  At last.

Mum had left us a ‘wimbry pie’ – a sort of blueberry grown wild on the moors.  We demolished it and with purple mouths talked and spooned and looked at the stars.

  During the week-end we were often alone together late at night, lights off, curtains open and the ghostly moonlight shining in.  I had never been in such a position before – alone with someone I loved and the freedom to do anything we wanted to.  I felt Jamie was the most wonderful man/boy I had ever met and trusted him completely.  I felt yearnings and wanted to stay enfolded in his arms for ever.  As we got more passionate Jamie - in a shaky voice said he respected the fact that we were in my father’s house and he would not betray that trust.  I knew he was right and this delicious, warm, oozy feeling would have to be enough until we were married.  I just wished I had been wearing a prettier petticoat instead of one of my mother’s which was too big for me and I'd had to knot the straps.

  I took Jamie to a farm in the Ribble Valley where we used to stay.  They had known me since I was a child and I was proud to show him off whilst Mrs Walker gave him the once - over; always a bit unnerving as her eyes looked in different directions, but he passed muster and we were given a splendid lunch.

“Eee's a gud ‘un Pat.  ‘Ang on to’im!" she said as I hugged her goodbye.

When we got home Maddie had been joined by Paul – her husband.  I wondered how he would behave as originally it was he who stopped me going to the Commem. Ball with Jamie.  To all intents and purposes they appeared to get on- there was a lot of bonhomie- which didn’t seem totally natural to me.  I cooked my speciality- Tomato Omelette for us all and then Jamie and I went to look at the Unitarian Church where Maddie and Paul had been married.

On our last night we stayed up till dawn.  It was time to return to hospital, get back to work and tell Andrew I couldn’t see him anymore.  Jamie was meeting up with the Climbing Club in Skye.

After a last walk over the hills we had lunch, said goodbye to Maddie and Paul and thanked them for chaperoning us.  We caught the 4.15 bus to Manchester and to take our minds off our sadness went to see ‘The Great Gatsby’ at the Odeon but Jamie had a headache so we came out.  The city was hot and oppressive, there was nowhere to eat so we took the bus back to the Hospital and sat in a field.  I told Jamie of my fears- working with desperately sick children- what if I made a mistake- it was such a huge responsibility.  He tried to reassure me and we kissed good night.

“I‘ll see you in the morning Jamie. As soon as I get in I’ll ask if I can have my off-duty in the morning.  I’ll get off at 10am and go straight to Moseley Street Bus Station so I can wave good bye.”

  I rushed up the hospital steps and went straight to the notice board to look at the rota.

My spirits dropped:  I was relief baby nurse on Wrigley.  Baby nurses can never have a morning off – with six babies to bathe and feed there is too much to do.

Although the post was excellent it was too late for a letter. Mum and Dad didn’t have a phone and mobiles were unheard of.

  Next morning the frustration was awful as I pictured Jamie waiting fruitlessly.  Determined to make some sort of progress I phoned Andrew and we made arrangements to meet outside the hospital that evening.

Jamie had been very specific about how I should tell Andrew; I should keep it brief- not go for a drink and not kiss him so I was behaving like an automaton.  Andrew said he could tell from my voice something was up.  We walked and said not very much.  He behaved perfectly; he had brought chocolates and perfume which he insisted I accept.  It was a shocking contrast to all the happy times we had had together and I hated it.  We said goodbye and as I walked up the Hospital drive I bumped into Nurse Mitchell who had passed us in the road.

“You both looked terrible – as if someone had just died.”

I was really sad to lose someone with whom I had shared such light-hearted, happy times.  I love perfume but to this day I can’t use Chanel No 5.






Granny Annie said...

Well you achieved your goal, sad as it was. Certain odors can awake memories both sad and happy.

angryparsnip said...

What a wonderful interesting post till the end. Sometimes you know what is right for the heart.
Two wonderful men and you had to make a choice.
Can't wait for the next post.

cheers, parsnip and thehamish

Pat said...

Granny Annie: it was sad -there was no way round it. Smells can be very evocative can't they?

Parsnip: it's a bit like the number eleven bus. You wait for hours and then two come along at once - if you see what I mean. Much more important of course as it can change the rest of your life.

AndrewM said...

I know that 'back to work, Monday morning feeling'.

Good work, keep it up.

Pat said...

AndrewM: just what you are feeing now I expect :-)

Ms Scarlet said...


SDC said...

The reference to perfume resonated with me. Smell and music don't just take me back, they transport me into the skin I was in years (decades even) previously. The same feelings, smells, sensations at the time. The good and the bad. I think if I was in your shoes, I wouldn't be able to use the perfume again either.

I'm enjoying your posts. They are so relatable.

helen said...

It's all getting very sad.

Exile on Pain Street said...

I'm finally all caught up. I'd been delayed because of side projects and summer but I printed out the last two chapters and gobbled them up. Fantastic work. I don't understand your feeling of shame in Chapter 14. Because you allowed them to carry your things? You are correct that they were being TRUE gentlemen. The implication is that they should also feel shame. I'm not buying it one bit. It's how I'd want my daughters treated.

This stuff is great. I only wish there were photographs to go along with the story.

Mage said...

What a wonderful trip that was. Yes, how sad to say goodbye to your friend. For the best tho. Are there any pictures of this time?

Pat said...

Scarlet: easy fir you to say :-)

SDC: Interesting that you find them relatable. I reckon there is a story lurking there.

Helen: I wouldn't be true if I left the sad parts out. Better brace yourself - but I'm still here.

Exile: well done! You are right not to understand my feeling of shame. Part of me thinks one should pull one's weight and part of me thinks - but I'm a weak and feeble woman.

Mage: Photos are quite sparse of this period. I'll see what I can do.

rashbre said...

You describe it all so well and as if it is right in the moment. I liked the practical rucksack mechanics in the last episode and know what you mean about how some scenes are stitched into one's consciousness and then just an aroma or waft of music can reawaken it all.

OldLady Of The Hills said...

It's taken me a while to get here, but I'm so happy I did. This is such a sweet and poignant period in your life, isn't it? Poor Andrew....but, such is the way of love. Looking forward to more, more, and more, my dear Pat......

Kim Ayres said...

I've not heard of wimbry pie before - sounds lovely :)

Pat said...

Rashbre: yes Jamie was quite brilliant at solving problems like the rucksacks and his demeanour was such that others accepted his solutions without question.

Naomi: I often think of Andrew and hope he had a happy life. He was very popular and attractive so I don't think he would be alone for long.

Kim: they are a sort of wild small bilberry found on wild moorland. Maggie would make gorgeous pies of them. She may be familiar with them.

neena maiya (guyana gyal) said...

It's Sunday morning, and I'm catching up. I feel like a glutton reading all at once.

I'll take the Channel No. 5, Pat :-)