In the email, he argued that I was jobless and almost broke; Helen, on the other hand did, at least, have a regular part-time job. He noted that I’d been scrupulous in making childcare payments and that it would be wrong for me to face the risk of having to sell the house if that were necessary in order to divide our assets. He justified this conclusion on the grounds that Paul would need somewhere suitable to stay with me whenever it should become necessary, preferably close to my present home. He added that the current custody arrangements did not provide for emergencies. He pointed out that if I were forced to sell my house, I’d have to rent somewhere to live, with no guarantee that I’d be able to afford accommodation nearby or suitable for Paul to stay. He cautioned that I’d, almost certainly, be unable to afford a mortgage to buy another property in my present circumstances. He further stated that there was not much equity in the house, substantial card debt from the marriage and considerable legal bills still to come. He concluded that, given the state of my finances, and that Helen, had already taken with her half of the savings account balance, the division of assets as it stands should stand unchanged so as to enable both parties to move on without undue debt.
I had no idea whether his letter would persuade Helen, but I agreed that it was worth a try and I emailed him by return to give my approval.
Time with Susie
Thursday came as a relief. I looked forward both to talking through software options with Susie and to the training session that evening. I’d done a bit of jogging locally since the weekend so as to prepare. I parked on the road in front of her house. Getting out of the car, I noticed, for the first time, the forsythia bush in her front garden. It was in full golden yellow bloom in a border and was underplanted with grape hyacinths, tulips and daffodils. Altogether, it was a beautiful display. Susie must have noticed my car at the front, because she opened her front door, came out and joined me. I congratulated her on her green fingers. She thanked me and led me into her living room.
I declined her offer of a drink: it wasn’t long since I’d had one. We sat for a while, talking again about the last group meeting. She said that she’d been really upset and had been quite depressed the whole of that day. She thanked me for remaining committed. I assured her that I’d turn jobs down rather than stop working with her on the project. I didn’t say why.
I opened my laptop and showed her the letter that my solicitor would be sending. She pulled a face, crinkling her nose and twisting her mouth to one side.
“I don’t think that your wife will be too swayed by that from what you’ve told me of her,” she said, “Nice try! Can’t do any harm, and I think he’s doing his best. I doubt though that it has any weight in law.”
I agreed. She went to switch on the gas fire. It was getting chilly.
“My God!” she said, “Your finances sound as if you’re a real basket-case.”
I sighed. I told her about my latest job application and interview. I explained that it was for a Business Development Manager post at a major supply company to the NHS. I added that I’d told the interviewer about the website project. She’d said that, were I to be offered the job, it would be with caveats about conflict of interest and data protection. She hadn’t said that it would be against the terms and conditions of employment if I carried on with our venture though.
“If I do get this job, it’ll tide me over until we start seeing some payback from what we’re doing. I’ve still got a reasonable sum in the bank to keep my head above water for a few months.”
“That all sounds promising,” she said.
“The legal bills will be the real problem,” I continued, “I bet they won’t accept a credit card: they haven’t so far.”
She got up to fetch her laptop. “Don’t worry about it,” she said, “They’ll be used to clients in your situation.”
We rose and went into her dining room. I took my laptop with me together with a sheaf of printouts.
Our conversation shifted to what I’d learned about software options. The various websites had useful information, but the reviews were even more valuable. There were diagrams, flowcharts, comparison tables and arguments about relative merits. It took us a good ninety minutes to whittle the choice down to two of each type of software house to approach for quotes. I showed her some break-even charts I’d prepared.
We both agreed that both the set-up and running costs should be manageable. She asked whether I’d been able to do any kind of market research, sales or cash flow forecasts. I admitted that it was too early for that, but I showed her an outline promotional mailshot with a list of local companies in the Greater Manchester Area that fitted the client profile we’d talked about approaching. She agreed with my proposal. We needed to see how successful it turned out to be in opening doors for us. Susie had pre-prepared a salad for our tea and some home-baked apple pie for afters. She said that she’d kept the pie portions small so that we wouldn’t be jogging on full stomachs. My mouth was watering already and the food fully lived up to my expectations. The salad was fresh, crisp and colourful. The pie pastry was light and the apple pieces had softened beautifully. Just to make it perfect, she’d made some delicious golden-yellow custard. I told her that I was well and truly impressed.
Today’s featured photo is a few years old, taken early one September morning at the Royal Albert Dock, Liverpool. In one of the walkways around the dock, I saw this waiter preparing for the day and took the shot.
The Exif data are as follows: Pentax K-50 16 MP cropped sensor camera and 18-55 mm f/3.5-5.6 kit lens @ 18 mm and f/5.6. Shutter speed was 1/40 secs and the ISO 400. The shot was taken handheld and post processed in Lightroom Classic.