The problems today were not only caused by the kitchen though. It was a hot, late April afternoon, the kitchen window was South facing and Charlotte, Charlie to close friends and relatives, was still experiencing post-menopausal flushes. Since their children had flown the nest, twenty years or so previously, she’d developed a routine, a way of life that Frank, since he’d retired, was disrupting most days of the week. She was the first to admit that she’d become set in her ways, but she’d spent years lovingly establishing those ways. She found it frustrating that, at sixty-eight years of age, she now had to tolerate her husband bulldozing his presence into her domain.
She could not understand how a grown man could create so many dirty dishes making a simple rice dish, how he could never replace pots, pans, plates or cutlery where they should be put. She’d spent years perfecting efficient ways of cooking meals yet, here he was again, thinking that he could just interrupt her flow and imagine that he was helping.
God! The rows they’d had over things like that.’
It was Gloria’s 40th birthday today, so it would be a full house for the evening meal and the family guests were expected anytime now – Gloria, her husband Peter and Davina their daughter. Gloria was the younger of Charlotte and Frank’s children. The company would be completed by Gloria’s older brother David and his two children Grace and Jake. Five adults was one thing but three teenagers with their moods and dietary fads was a completely different matter. All it needed to be a complete disaster was Frank ‘helping’ in the kitchen.
“Frank, will you listen to me for a minute – please? I have enough to do in here without you under my feet. Go and get two of the spare set of chairs down from the loft for the grandkids and set the table. You’d better extend it to sit eight – and use the white damask tablecloth. Use the silver cutlery from the canteen in the dining room. I want it to look nice for Gloria when she comes. I assume you’ve written her birthday card – put the envelope on the mantlepiece in the living room would you please. Also, set a couple of candles on the table plus some glasses for drinks. You may need to get the white wine and beers from the fridge too. There’s an unopened bottle of red on the dresser. Just make yourself useful somewhere else.”
Biting back a sharp response, Frank dried his hands and went to do as he’d been commanded.
Charlotte heaved a sigh of relief once he’d gone and looked around to see how to restore order.
The couple had been married since 1975, almost forty-two years ago. Charlotte had packed in her job when she became pregnant with David later the same year. She’d remained a wife, mother and housewife all that time, providing a solid basis for Frank during his working years. He’d never needed to juggle work and family responsibilities – or hardly ever anyway. She was the one who’d done the childbearing, child-rearing, shopping, cooking and housework – managing the household budget from her allowance and even managing to put away some savings for their future. Now she had a State Pension – a pittance – and the savings, but the future she’d dreamed of was becoming a nightmare. Why couldn’t he just leave things alone?
I took this photo a week ago today while dog walking. The 20 metres high statue is known as The Dream or simply Dream. It was constructed in 2009 and was designed by Jaume Plensa, a world famous sculptor. The design was one of four chosen nationally to be funded through UK Channel Four’s Big Art Project. It cost more than £2 million in today’s money. It’s sited, overlooking the M62 motorway, on the site of the former Sutton Manor coal mine.
The whiteness of the sculpture, which takes the form of the head of a young girl who’s eyes are closed, contrasts with the blackness of the coal that used to be mined below it.
I used my Pentax KP cropped sensor camera to take the photo using a 16-85 mm f/3.5-5.6 lens. The shutter speed was 1/125 secs @ f/8 and focal length 31 mm. The ISO was 200