‘What are you doing at Gloria’s?’ she asked. He’d phoned her using Gloria’s landline and she’d recognised the caller ID. He explained the situation briefly, but she bombarded him with questions – many of which related to his sanity and common-sense. When she got round to asking why he’d phoned, he told her that he was planning to rent a house, for six months maximum in the first instance, and wanted to know if she had any contacts as landlords or agents who could short circuit the bureaucracy. She asked him to leave it with her. He told her that he’d be having a meal with Charlotte that evening before putting David in the picture. She told him that he should get down on his knees if necessary and beg her to let him return. He went for a wash, got changed and, with all best wishes from Gloria and her family. he drove to the restaurant.
Ashes of a marriage – Week One – An evening together
They arrived at the restaurant within minutes of each other and managed to get a table together without a problem. At that time there weren’t many other diners and it was large modern gastropubs with a mock Tudor façade and dark ceiling beams that would have been no older than the pub. A young woman in a white blouse, with an apron over her short skirt, ,helped them to choose a table. They noted the table number and ordered the carvery and drinks at the bar, taking their drinks with them back to their table.
He complimented his wife on her appearance. She was wearing a burgundy jacket over a dark pencil skirt, black tights and black, patent-leather heeled shoes.
‘Will you trust me not to knock my glass over you?’ he asked.
Charlotte, who was sipping her wine, looked at him to judge whether he was serious or merely trying to lighten the situation. She decided that it was the latter from his smile.
‘Don’t you dare,’ she said.
He told her about his phone call to Betty. She roared with laughter.
‘Well come on then,’ she said, ‘ down on your knees.
‘I didn’t say that I agreed to do it,’ he said, ‘ but she said that she was going to get back to me.’
They walked across to the carvery, chose which meat to have and then ladled steaming vegetables onto their plates before returning together to their table. The other tables had started filling up with early evening diners and the noise level had increased – chatter and the sounds of crockery and cutlery. Someone had switched on the huge television to a sports channel that broadcast silently.
‘What did you tell Gloria and Peter?’ she asked.
He summarised what had been said on all sides – including his suggestion that she might use the opportunity of her new freedom to find a new life with a younger, more acceptable man. She curled her lips and he took this to mean ‘as if..’ He also related Gloria’s reaction to his thinking of finding a young landlady who offered extras. Charlotte was almost as shocked as Gloria had been.
During the meal, he told her about his day of internet searching and about the ins and outs of renting a house.
‘Sounds to me as if you’d be better off back with me then,’ she said.
He told her why he disagreed and that he could see why she’d obviously be happier as manager of her own life without him being in the way. After only part of a day without him she didn’t feel so sure, but she didn’t say anything.
‘Early days yet,’ she thought.
He asked her about her day – what had she been up to – and she told him about her phone talks with Jim and Marjorie and about the lady in the park.
They sat for a while talking after the meal. She suggested that they could phone David from the pub and go round together. Frank wasn’t sure and, after they’d talked through the pros and cons, they agreed that he should return home with her to phone from there. It would also allow him an opportunity to collect some of the paper evidence that he’d need to provide the letting agents.
Sharp as always where money was concerned, she asked whether he was expecting to take the money for deposits out of the joint account before they divided it. He assured her that he recognised that it would be unfair of him to expect her to fund half of the deposit costs.
He’d paid the restaurant bill at the time they’d ordered so, when they were ready, they returned home.
I took this photo yesterday morning (11/02/2021) at Sutton Mill Dam, St Helens, Merseyside. It was one of five shots that I took because of the reflections in the frozen surface of the lake.
I used my Pentax KP 24 MP cropped sensor camera with a 35 mm f/2full-frame prime lens attached. The shutter speed was 1/400 at f/9 and the ISO was 800. The shot was handheld and I post-processed my shot in Lightroom Classic.