Once or twice lately he’d lost his temper and shouted at her, telling her to make her bloody mind up. He’d apologised and felt guilty after – but she’d sulked and found ways of making him pay. She never apologised for her vicious tongue, her sarcasm, her castrating insults. If this was retirement, he’d rather be back at work – even with the young thugs at school.
What was he to do? He couldn’t put up with another twenty, thirty years of the constant drip- drip of her nagging voice.
“Frank, you won’t forget to remove the cork from the red wine will you?” came her voice from the kitchen.
Dinner for seven
Everyone made a fuss over Gloria, the birthday girl, of course. A major milestone for many people, she was just taking her fortieth in her stride. She loved the gifts that she opened when she arrived and, of course, had already been delighted by the ones from husband Peter, daughter Davina and from colleagues. She’d also been sent presents by her uncles and aunts. Having this family meal though, was what she’d looked forward to as much as anything, so it was disappointing that almost as soon as she arrived she could sense tension between her parents.
Her brother David and his children had given her their cards and gifts, but as soon as she had a chance to speak to him in private, she collared David to ask him what was going on between their mum and dad. He himself didn’t know what the problem was. He suggested that they tackled the pair of them after the meal when, in all probability, the kids would have found somewhere upstairs for screentime.
Charlotte shooed them all out of the kitchen and Frank herded them into the front Lounge. He knew that Charlotte would soon be loading the dining table with the prepared food and that she would get flustered if they were in her way as she did it.
The windowless dining room had been a mistake. He and Charlotte often spoke of getting quotes from builders to sort out the room layouts. The way things were, the dining room was in the middle of the house, sandwiched between the front lounge and a rear sitting room. The entrance to it was from the hall. That meant that to get food from the kitchen to the dining room, it had to be carried through the breakfast room, into the hall and from there into the dining room.
They’d considered making the rear sitting room into the dining room and having a hatch from the kitchen into the altered dining area – but that would have meant relocating the cooker and losing wall space for cupboards. They’d drawn up their own floorplan to completely restructure the layout, but there had always been reasons for delay. In the meantime, Frank entertained the family in the lounge, keeping conversation flowing and plying everyone with drinks.
During the meal itself, all seemed normal at first. Conversation flowed freely, the salad was delicious and everyone – including Charlotte and Frank – appeared to be enjoying the occasion. There was general agreement that Gloria didn’t look a day over thirty and the grandchildren were on their best behaviour. That peace was shattered in an instant when Frank, reaching to pass with both hands to Charlotte a salver of the cooked rice, knocked his wineglass over with his elbow. The glass itself remained intact, but its contents spread across the white tablecloth between them and splashed her blouse and trousers.
“Frank, you clumsy bloody oaf. Why don’t you look what you’re doing? Just look at what you’ve done to my blouse and the cloth.”
Frank, by his time had risen from his chair, pushing it back to allow him to move and get a cloth from the kitchen.
“Oh, sit down Frank. You’ll only make things worse as usual. I’ll sort it. You really are becoming absolutely hopeless.”
I took this photo last week while dog walking. I took this image while taking my daughter’s dog for a walk to the Dream statue featured earlier this week. I took the photo just after sunrise and was delighted to be able to catch the starburst effect from the rising sun filtering through the trees at the hilltop.
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 1/50secs @ f/20 and focal length 16 mm. The ISO was 400