The Phoenix Time #55, #56, #57 (Corrected)

APOLOGIES

Looking back over the past two days’ posts, I see that, in posts #55 and #56, I managed to screw things up royally. From the ‘Previously’ onwards in post #55, I duplicated some sections and omitted others. In my defence, the process by which I have previously been able to copy and paste text from my original Word file and between my post pages has been changed for reasons beyond my control and understanding. I think that I now have a workaround. However, to help you to try to make sense of what you should have been able to read, I have checked and daisy-chained three days posts into this replacement post. Please forgive me.

Previously……….

‘That’s quite some speech for you Dad. Are you interested in this Janice then – or are you hedging your bets?’

‘Neither my love. She’s fun to be with but she’d never be interested in an old man like me. I’m not daft. She just needed cheering up. Both me and her have two left feet and we’ll neither of us ever be the next Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers pairing. But it was fun and we could laugh at our feeble attempts.’

‘I’m not convinced that you’ve answered my question Dad – either question in fact.’

‘Well, that’s all I’m saying for tonight. I’m quite worn out and ready for bed. I bet Peter’s wondering what you’re doing down here. You go and I’ll check the doors and turn off the lights.’

Continued………

CHAPTER EIGHT

Sunday – first day of Week Four

Dinner for seven

There was no place at the table for Frank at David’s house. Charlotte would have  refused to go if he’d been invited. She still hadn’t forgiven him. Gloria hadn’t told her brother about the goings-on of Thursday at and after the dance class. Charlotte made good that deficit in spades. She held forth over the dinner table and continued afterwards when they all retired to his living room.

Both Gloria and David tried to persuade her to calm down and to moderate her views but she would have none of it. The  couple of days between Thursday evening and Sunday had only fuelled her anger. Frank hadn’t tried to contact her and she had no intention of phoning or texting him.

Gloria did try to get her mum to see things from Frank’s angle but that seemed to make things worse.

‘You’re just siding with your perfect dad. Why was he stalking me to the dance class? That had been somewhere for me to go to forget him.’

Gloria put her head in her hands. ‘Mum, maybe he went to see who you were dancing with. Maybe he was a bit jealous.’

‘Then explain, if you can, why he didn’t ask me to dance with him, and why was he been flaunting this woman in front of me? Was he trying to make me jealous?’

They argued back and forth. Charlotte was anxious to know what Frank would  have told the woman about her; whether he would have told her he was already married; whether he would have pointed her out among the other dancers; whether the woman was married.

Gloria was at least able to confirm that Janice was a widow, but this merely made Charlotte think that, as a widow, she was probably more of a temptation to Frank.

When David tried to argue that she, herself, had discouraged his contacting her on the grounds of their being separated, he was accused of siding with Frank because he was a man.

The grandchildren took no part, seeing the discussion was something in which their contribution would be even more unwelcome, so they’d taken themselves off upstairs.

The evening ended without a resolution.

Monday – Week Four

Charlotte

Charlotte hadn’t slept well. She woke up with a headache which paracetamol did little to aid. She knocked the nearly full, four-pint plastic container of milk over when she was making a drink. She’d put some of the milk in the cup to colour the brewed tea it contained, but as she turned to bring her cereal bowl nearer, her wrist caught against the bottle. Fortunately there hadn’t been much in it but it seemed to spread everywhere. She couldn’t blame Frank for that.

That was just the start. When the landline phone in the living room rang, she ran to pick up the receiver, and tripped over the edge of the rug in the breakfast room – landing on her forearms and hurting her wrist. The call had been one of those scam calls from someone claiming to be her internet provider.

She then left her drink going cold, forgotten, as she sat with her face in her hands, sobbing. The eye makeup she’d so carefully applied streaked, and when she rubbed her eyes with her knuckles, the streak spread even further.

When she pulled herself together, she decided that she had to get out of the house. She thought for a moment, deliberating where to go to cheer herself up and decided to visit Chester, to browse the shops in the Rows. It was still only mid-morning and she realised that she’d be able to be there by lunchtime and treat herself to a nice meal somewhere. She remembered an Italian restaurant that she’d been to previously with Frank. The food had been nice there.

She looked around, saw that dust had been accumulating since she’d left for Dorset. “Bugger it!” she thought. She put her phone and purse in the handbag she’d chosen and walked out to the car.

Frank

Frank had slept like a log, untroubled in his ignorance of the maelstrom that had caused havoc in his former home the previous day. He’d been watching television in the living room when they’d arrived back. When he asked if they’d had a nice visit their response had been less than fulsome. He didn’t enquire further – he could guess what had been said.

Over breakfast he said that he had an announcement:

‘I may have found somewhere to stay so that I can be off your hands,’ he said. ‘When I told Janice that I’d been trying to find somewhere to rent, she said that she might know someone who could help. One of her neighbours takes in lodgers sometimes.’

‘Oh yes!’ Gloria said, ‘Is this possibly your loose landlady fantasy Dad?’

‘Well,’ he said, ‘Janice never mentioned anything about that. She just said that she’d have a word and get back to me.’

‘When do you expect to hear?’

‘That’s my announcement,’ he said, ‘Janice phoned yesterday while you were out. She’d spoken to the neighbour, and one of her regulars will be leaving to move into a house that he and his girlfriend have bought. They’ll be completing on the purchase within three weeks.’

‘How did Janice know your number Dad?’ Gloria asked, as she was clearing the table.

‘Leave those things love. You just get ready for work,’ he said. ‘When she told me about this neighbour, I gave her my number so she could let me know how she’d got on.’

Frank rose from his chair and lifted some of the dishes to take to the sink.

‘I phoned the neighbour after Janice rang off,’ he continued, ‘and I’ll be going to look at the place tomorrow to meet her and have a look at the place while the present lodger’s at work.’

Gloria was satisfied that there was nothing for her mum to be concerned about but she’d enjoyed having her dad stay with her where she could keep an eye on him.

When the family left, Frank washed and dried the dishes, put everything away and had a general tidy around the house. He hadn’t anything urgent to do, so he decided to visit Port Sunlight to look at the Lady Lever Art Gallery at Port Sunlight. It had been a while since he’d been. It would be nice to see the collection of Pre-Raphaelite paintings again.

Tuesday – Week Four

Local History Group

Charlotte had her own contribution to make to the proceedings. Following last week’s notice about the proposed tour of old local gravestones, she’d taken her camera and accompanied Renee and Hazel. Using the skills that she’d learned from Carrie, and the free software she’d downloaded, she’d photographed, processed and emailed copies of her images to Hazel.

After the break, Renee and Hazel made a presentation of what they’d learned on their visit, thanking Charlotte for turning up for the tour, and for her photos which they projected onto a large pull-down screen at the front of the room.

The talk and the images were well received and Charlotte’s work was praised.

She left the meeting feeling proud of herself. She was a lot more cheerful than she had been on Sunday. Her trip to Chester yesterday had also been a tonic. She’d treated herself to some new underwear and a new dress to wear to the dance next Thursday

She was also much more prepared now to put her misgivings about the events at the dance class into proportion. In her mind she recollected the points that David and Gloria had made. Maybe they were right. Maybe she had to see things from the alternative perspective they’d suggested. Nevertheless, she wasn’t looking forward to the coming class. She hoped that Frank would stay away.

Frank

Frank left the house soon after breakfast. He was keen to meet his prospective landlady. From memory the house wouldn’t be far away, on the outskirts of the town. He keyed the postcode into his satnav and set off. He’d dressed to impress in his grey tweed sports jacket and charcoal trousers with black shoes.

As he drove he thought about his visit to the art gallery on the Wirral yesterday. One painting in particular came to mind of a group of women grouped around a table in a workhouse. The nineteenth century work was by Hubert von Herkomer. His main reason for recalling the painting was that, on a previous visit to the gallery with Charlotte, she’d been moved to tears.

Both he and Charlotte enjoyed liked visiting such places. They were lucky to have galleries like the Lady Lever and Liverpool’s Walker Art Gallery so close to hand.  Not all of his recent memories of his wife were tainted by the traits that had led to their parting company. She used to be more sensitive- he recalled another previous occasion – a Valentine’s Day concert at Liverpool Philharmonic that had included a performance of Ralph Vaughan Williams’ ‘Lark Ascending’ at; and there was another time in Manchester where they’d gone for a performance with surtitles of La Traviata by the Welsh National Opera. He was going to miss moments like those.

He drove along the road, looking for the door number. The houses were all 1960s or, perhaps early 1970s three bedroomed semi-detached and the one he stopped outside seemed to have been well maintained with a pleasant front garden behind a low brick wall. Baskets of brightly coloured summer annuals hung either side of the glazed porch.  This was much better than he’d expected.

The woman who opened the door greeted him and checked his driving licence photo-ID as they’d arranged. She identified herself as Mrs Edwards, though she asked him to call her Edna. He followed her into her front living room – she wanted to talk to him about why he wanted to stay there and his expectations. From what she said, it sounded as if Janice had already told her quite a bit about him.

 She explained that most of the people she’d provided accommodation for had stayed for fairly short periods – people moving into the area on temporary assignments with large companies or others who’d pre-emptively sold a house to have more bargaining power when buying their next home. Having satisfied herself that Frank seemed to be a suitable candidate, she showed him around the house. All the  décor  appeared to be quite recent and tasteful. He would have his own bedroom and free use of the bathroom, kitchen and living room. He’d be able to do his own laundry and cooking, although he’d be welcome to join her for cooked evening meals given notice.

When he’d seen all that he needed to, they returned to the living room and arranged terms. From what she said the wi-fi signal would be okay for him. She told him that, nearer the time of her current tenant leaving, she’d phone him with a moving in date. At that time she’d require the rent for the first month in advance.

Returning to Gloria’s, his only reservation was about having to share wi-fi, because he was used to doing online all his banking, shopping and other sensitive matters.

Featured Photo

A while back I featured a couple of photos of the Widnes to Runcorn Silver Jubilee Bridge across the River Mersey on its re-opening after refurbishment. Today, the image shows the view of the bridge looking up into its structure.

I used my Pentax KP 24 MP crop sensor camera with a 35mm f/2 prime lens lens attached. The shutter speed was 1/640 seconds at f/8. The ISO was 200. The shot was handheld and I post-processed my shot in Lightroom Classic.

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