He told her that he wasn’t expecting to be joined by anyone. He explained that his wife would probably be coming but that they were recently separated and he didn’t expect that she’d want to dance with him.
They sat down on adjoining chairs. She asked why he’d come in that case. He told her that it was his wife who’d mentioned that she’d joined but that she’d had no shortage of widowers wanting to dance with her. It had occurred to him that he too might need to find a way to make new friends after forty years of marriage.
‘Oooh!’ she said, ‘Are you jealous then? Will you be punching someone’s lights out later?’
He laughed and explained that he had no problem with her dancing with other men. They were separated now and it was up to her if she came here to enjoy herself. He asked about her reason for coming. She told him that her late husband had died a while back and that she’d come for company and to cheer herself up.
It transpired that neither had any prior experience of ballroom dancing.
Charlotte walked into the Community Room at the Library while this conversation was taking place, and, greeting the group leader at the table, paid her subscription for the evening. It wasn’t until she turned to look who else had arrived that she noticed Frank on the other side of the room.
He was on one of the chairs at the far end, sat talking to an attractive woman whom she’d not seen before, who seemed to be hanging on to Frank’s every word.
Charlotte decided that it might be embarrassing to him or to herself if she went across to him. She was angry with him for coming – she could not, for the world, imagine why he was there. At the same time, she wanted to know who the woman was – had he brought her; had she brought him; or was it, for him at least, a happy coincidence.
The evening began with a solo warm-up dance and, after a brief pause for recovery, the leader asked the dancers to form a circle – as far as possible a woman on either side of each man. She told them that, since there were new members present, the next dance would serve the purpose of letting everyone meet everyone else. When the music started, each man took the hand of the dancer on his right and danced a do-si-do around, each introducing himself and herself to the other.
There were fewer men than women present and this nicely avoided the embarrassment of a man having to dance with another man. Such appeared to be the assumption. Charlotte, who’d been watching him closely, noticed that Frank and the younger woman seemed to laugh more when they danced together than when partnered with someone else.
Soon it was Frank’s turn to introduce himself to Charlotte.
‘Hi,’ he said, ‘I’m Frank. Nice to meet you.’
‘I know damn well who you are you bloody fool,’ she hissed, ‘Why are you here?’
‘Well, it was you who said that it was a good way to make new friends.’
There was no more time for conversation because it was time to move on to the next introduction. There were few enough members and the music was long enough to allow another round of the dance.
Charlotte was even more annoyed with him the second time around. Later, at the interval, she noticed that he went and brought the younger woman a drink back for them both. The leader stood in the centre of the room with her microphone and reminded members of the outing to Llandudno that was planned for two weeks from then. Tickets were still available, but this was the final time of asking and deposits were also required for the coach and hotel. Frank and his partner went together to book.
They also spent the whole evening dancing together, even though there were several women who were only able to dance with other women.
At one point in the evening, as Charlotte was dancing, she noticed that Frank was looking in her direction. He winked at her, before turning back to his partner. Just to top off a perfect evening, as Charlotte was changing her shoes, she looked up and saw him walking out towards the exit with the same woman. She was furious.
Another photograph today from when I was walking back from Happy Valley at Carr Mill along the woodland path – returning the way that I’d come. This image shows a large stone in the stream. When I was a child, my dad used to tell me that the stone was called the Beecham’s stone, and that, when the clock of local Beecham’s pharmaceutical factory struck twelve each day, the stone turned over. As a child, I was daft enough to believe him and wished that he would take me to watch it happen.
I used my Pentax KP 24 MP crop sensor camera with a 35mm f/2 full-frame prime lens lens attached. The shutter speed was 1/100 seconds at f/13. The ISO was 3200. The shot was handheld and I post-processed my shot in Lightroom Classic.