The Phoenix Time #21


Charlotte was walking back to her table with her drink and biscuits when Penny approached her.

‘Frank gone anywhere special?’ she asked, ‘Only I noticed that his car wasn’t on your drive.’

“Oh God!” Charlotte thought, “Who needs Neighbourhood Watch with neighbours like Penny?”

‘Nowhere special,’ she replied. ‘how’s your Susan doing these days?’

Susan, Penny’s daughter, had left home after her parents had refused to let her bring her teenage boyfriend into the house. The lad was a drug addict. Penny mumbled an answer and Charlotte congratulated herself on her quick thinking. When Brian Hitchmough came across to her though, to ask how Frank was, she had no easy way out. She just limited her reply to telling him that they’d agreed to give each other space for a while. It shut him up.


Tuesday April 23 Week One – At Gloria’s – Frank

Frank didn’t get much sleep either on his first night away from home. Unlike Charlotte, he wasn’t sleeping in his own bed or in his own house. It wasn’t that the bed was uncomfortable, but the mattress was different, the bedding was different and it smelled different – not unpleasant, just different. The noises, both of the house and from outside were equally unfamiliar. The road that Gloria lived in was busier than at home, and the room he was in now faced onto it. He did, eventually, get to sleep but it was of a fitful kind: he seemed to be waking up almost every hour to look at the clock on his phone.

After breakfast with the family – and a promise to Gloria that he wouldn’t go looking for loose landladies – Frank had a second cup of tea, waiting for them all to leave before he set about washing and drying the breakfast dishes. It was the least he could do. He’d have a word with Gloria in private later to agree a reasonable contribution to household expenses.

He decided that the first thing he ought to do was to phone the bank. He’d agreed with Charlotte before he left that, if he could arrange a Saturday interview, he’d book it. It took a while to bypass the automated answering system, but once he was put through to a human being, it was straightforward to fix-up a joint appointment for the following Saturday morning.

Gloria had told him to make himself at home and help himself from the fridge. He wondered how long it would take to find somewhere to rent, so he decided to catch a bus into town and to have a walk around the various estate agents who did lettings work.

After making enquiries at a couple of them he went into a café for a cup of tea while he read through some of the information he’d been given. It appeared that, on the surface, there was no shortage of places to rent but there seemed to be a hell of a lot of paperwork, checks and upfront costs involved. He’d already suspected much of what he was told, having searched online the previous day. He had no references as a previous tenant to offer, so the agents would need to make additional checks. He looked at the documentation he’d need to present and then at the photos and details of some of the houses available at the moment. From what he’d heard, although there were lots of houses on the agents’ books, the turnover rate was quite high – current houses being snapped up but new ones replacing them almost all the time. He’d need to get the information compiled as soon as possible.

After his drink, he visited a few more agencies then did a bit of shopping to buy something to add to Gloria’s fridge for meals. It looked as if he’d be staying longer than he’d expected.

When he got back to Gloria’s, he put away the groceries he’d bought and made himself some lunch and a drink. He brought his laptop down and started doing some calculations about how much he’d need to pay for a holding deposit, advance rent and a tenancy deposit. Okay, some of it was refundable but it was still quite a lot of money. He’d also need to pay some recurring charges for things like Council Tax insurance and utilities bills. He was beginning to think that he shouldn’t commit himself initially to a rental of more than six months – he could use that as a learning period. That would raise another problem though for getting a broadband deal – he wouldn’t have to bother with a landline.

Featured Photo

I took this photo earlier this week (12/02/2021) at Sherdley Park, St Helens, Merseyside. It was one of several shots that I took of the bare-branched trees. The branches of most of them already bear buds, and soon these lovely structures will be hidden by summer foliage.

I used my Pentax KP 24 MP cropped sensor camera with a 35 mm f/2 full-frame prime lens attached. The shutter speed was 1/400 at f/9 and the ISO was 1000. The shot was handheld and I post-processed my shot in Lightroom Classic.

Author: writingandphotography0531

I am a retired local government officer. At that time, I was an IT manager and had associated responsibilities for training. I have previously been involved, in various organisations, with aspects of industrial training and management development. My hobby is photography and, until recently, hillwalking in Snowdonia. I have just written my first novel, Persephone and the Photographer, published as a Kindle eBook.

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