Regarding Melissa #19

…..Previously

‘We do sell some film cameras, Mel,’ Lucy said,’ you must have seen them for sale as secondhand in the window. There are still some customers trading them in because of that very convenience you mentioned of lower running costs. And the difference in image quality isn’t that great.’

Mel conceded Lucy’s argument.

‘I know,’ she replied, ‘but it’ll take me quite some time to save up for one of those.’ She pointed to some top of their class full-frame cameras.

‘What type of camera do you use, Jamie?’ she asked.

‘Oh, I just use a smartphone,’ he confessed. ‘I’m not a photographer. None of the family are. There’s only my great-grandad, Duncan, who knows how to take photographs as good as yours.

Continued…..

Mel looked stunned.

‘I’m a marketing man – like my dad,’ he said, ‘That’s what I did at uni. We promote our stock like any other product. We do try to keep up to date with the technology and we know the jargon. Most of the time we know which button to press to do things – but it pretty well ends there.’

Mel looked puzzled.

‘The camera companies have good salespeople,’ he explained, ‘and we do go on product-awareness seminars with them – and we take some customers with us usually. We couldn’t believe it when you appeared out of the blue wanting a job with us. The customers are going to love you.’

Lucy interrupted, ‘That’s all very well, you two,’ but what I wanted to know was how you enjoy yourself. Photography can’t be the only thing you do. Don’t you have a boyfriend – or  girlfriend I suppose I should ask these days?

‘I thought you were talking about real enjoyment,’ Mel said, laughing, ‘I do have a boyfriend but he’s not much fun lately.’

‘Oh dear,’ Lucy said, ‘Well, Mel, life’s too short to hang on to lost causes. A girl like you’ll have no problems finding someone who’s more fun.’

By the end of the day, Mel had been up to the gallery, learning how display items were chosen and replaced. She’d also learned that the shop had a group of ‘friends’ – frequent customers. The Group – members paid a small annual fee – had a private Facebook page on which management and members posted news, comments and their favourites of their latest photographs. Sometimes, a submission would be chosen to appear in the gallery for sale – almost all the gallery photos were by members .

The shop acted as an agency for a film development laboratory and was able to offer low prices to Group members. Another surprise to Mel was the occasional limited-number day outings that were arranged for Group members. Sometimes these were funded by suppliers and brand managers who were keen to demonstrate their latest equipment ‘in the field’. There had been recent outings to the Lake District, Snowdonia and the Peak District. Mel took note of all these services and started to hope that she might be able to become involved. She knew that she would need to prove her worth first though to earn a place.

 It had been a thoroughly enjoyable day.

Featured Photo

The photo that I’ve chosen today is the seventh of the series that I’ll be posting in this part of my daily blog in this part of the page. As I said previously, the series is based on a walk that I did on the 19th April along the bank of the Leeds to Liverpool canal between Burscough Bridge and the ‘Ring O’Bells’ pub just over a mile away. I did the walk in both directions, accompanied by my daughter’s dog, Ted.

Today I’ve chosen an image of some old cottages that I shot at the Rufford Branch junction with the main canal. The EXIF data are as follows: Camera used was my 24 MP Pentax KP cropped sensor camera paired with a Pentax 28-105 mm f/3.5-5.6 full-frame lens. The shutter speed was 1/125 secs @ f/8 and 28 mm. The ISO was 100. The shot was handheld.

Regarding Melissa #18

…..Previously

He told her that she would need one of the shop’s lanyards. He pointed to his photographic image on his ID and asked whether she had any objection to having her photo on her ID. She told him that she’d have no problem. He led her upstairs to a room at the front to take her photo and explained that they sometimes took customers’ passport photos there. She stood against a neutral grey background while he took the shot and printed off a set of four images passport-style. He cut them into four separate photos and gave two to her. He told her that one would be attached to her staff record and the other for her lanyard ID card. He asked how she wanted her name to appear – Melissa, Mel or Ms Harrington. She told him to record it as Mel.

Continued…..

She quickly got the hang of things and, by the time the shop opened, she and Jamie had finished opening, recording and storing new stock. He explained to her that they never got much footfall on Mondays, and they sorted and looked through the post together while Lucy pottered around the shopfloor checking the displays and dealing with the occasional caller.

Jamie and Mel then spent most of the remainder of the morning going around the shop to familiarise her with the displays and how stock was rotated – and replaced as required when sold. Mel thoroughly enjoyed learning about the selling features of cameras and accessories that were new to her since graduation. She hadn’t been able to afford to upgrade her  own equipment since leaving university. Mentally, she was working out what she’d like to be able to buy as soon as she had some money. Jamie noticed her interest and told her about the staff discount she’d be entitled to.

Leading off from that, he explained the principles and systems for valuing customers’ trade-in equipment against their purchase of new equipment. For the time being, he explained, that would remain the responsibility of himself or Lucy. He told her that Tony, his dad, seldom got involved in shopfloor transactions except in his or Lucy’s absence. His dad dealt mainly with suppliers and the accounts and general management of the business.

Every now and then she had a moment to chat at the counter with Lucy and Jamie.

‘What do you do for enjoyment?’ Lucy asked.

‘I go out as often as I can, taking photographs. Lucy,’ she said,’ My camera is pretty well an extension of my hand: using it has become second nature’

‘I once saw a camera like the one you told us about,’ Jamie said. ‘It looked as if it weighed a ton.’

‘It’s not that bad,’ Mel said, ‘I’m used to it. Anyway,  it’s all I could afford for university – it was cheap second-hand. I bet that some of the images I get with it are clearer than with anything you have in here.’ She swept her arm around to indicate the digital cameras and lenses.

‘Having said that,’ she conceded, ‘Every single photo that I take with it has to be carefully thought about. Film is really expensive and so is processing. It’s not like the digital kit you sell, where you can rip off a volley of shots without worrying if a few are out of focus or badly exposed.’

‘Hmm!’ Jamie said, ‘We can’t have you converting our customers to go back to film cameras.’ He laughed.

‘We do sell some film cameras, Mel,’ Lucy said,’ you must have seen them for sale as secondhand in the window. There are still some customers trading them in because of that very convenience of lower running costs you mentioned. And the difference in image quality isn’t that great.’

Mel conceded Lucy’s argument.

‘I know,’ she replied, ‘but it’ll take me quite some time to save up for one of those.’ She pointed to some top of their class full-frame cameras.

‘What type of camera do you use, Jamie?’ she asked.

‘Oh, I just use a smartphone,’ he confessed. ‘I’m not a photographer. None of us are. There’s only my great-grandad, Duncan who knows how to take photographs like the ones you’re talking about

Featured Photo

The photo that I’ve chosen today is the sixth of the series that I’ll be posting in this part of my daily blog in this part of the page. As I said previously, the series is based on a walk that I did on the 19th April along the bank of the Leeds to Liverpool canal between Burscough Bridge and the ‘Ring O’Bells’ pub just over a mile away. I did the walk in both directions, accompanied by my daughter’s dog, Ted.

Today I’ve chosen an image that I took of a signpost at the Rufford Branch junction with the main canal. The EXIF data are as follows: Camera used was my 24 MP Pentax KP cropped sensor camera paired with a Pentax 28-105 mm f/3.5-5.6 full-frame lens. The shutter speed was 1/500 secs @ f/7.1 and 105 mm. The ISO was 100. The shot was handheld.

Regarding Melissa #17

……Previously

Hannays camera shop stood just off the High Street in the precinct of newish shop premises. The Hannay family had traded in the town since Jamie’s great grandad had sold cameras from a market stall in 1947, before opening a shop in the High Street in the mid-1950s. The move to the precinct had only happened in the 1990s to escape the escalating costs of trading. Like many small local businesses, the Hannays had been trapped between the hammer of rent rises and punitive council taxes on the one hand and the anvil of reduced income as unemployment worsened.

Continued…..

Mel was stood outside the shop door by twenty-five past eight. Hannays’ had a double fronted window display – not large windows, but a cut above many of the shops in the precinct. The shutters were up, but a “Closed” sign still hung behind the glazed door. She’d dressed to impress. Beneath her black puffer jacket she wore a royal-blue wrap over blouse, a knee-length black pencil skirt and sheer black tights with shiny black low-heeled shoes.  She could see Jamie and his mum through the glass, moving around. She tapped on the glass, and when Jamie saw her he came across, smiled at her, unlocked the door and opened it, inviting her in and leading her across to Lucy, his mum.

She noticed that Jamie was wearing spectacles and assumed that they were just for reading. He was similarly dressed to how he had been on the previous Friday at the interview. There was an identity lanyard around his neck.

‘You made good time, Melissa – a nice start to your job here,’ Lucy said, offering a hand for Mel to shake, ‘I’m sure you’ll fit in nicely.’

‘Hello again, Mrs Hannay,’ Mel said, smiling and taking the proffered hand, ‘I’m looking forward to it. Please call me Mel if that’s okay.’

‘Mel – that’s nice,’ she replied, ‘You must call me Lucy. We’re a family business not the Bank of England.’ Lucy commented on how nice Mel looked and showed her where to hang her jacket. She explained that Mel wasn’t going to be ‘thrown in at the deep end’, but would be eased in over a couple of weeks.

Lucy was wearing a cotton blouse with a colourful abstract pattern over navy blue bootleg trousers and black sensible shoes. Around her neck she wore a lanyard similar to Jamie’s and bearing her name.

Mel passed her portfolio to Lucy for Tony to look at.

Jamie joined them. He said, ‘You’ll be working with me for a few days – getting to know the kind of things we do, because we don’t just sell cameras – as you’ll see. Firstly though, we asked you to come in early because there are usually things that need doing before we open the shop – like sorting out any new stock that’s arrived over the weekend. Let’s get on with that together.’

He told her that she would need one of the shop’s lanyards. He pointed to his photographic image on his ID and asked whether she had any objection to having her photo on her ID. She told him that she’d have no problem. He led her upstairs to a room at the front to take her photo and explained that they sometimes took customers’ passport photos there. She stood against a neutral grey background while he took the shot and printed off a set of four images passport-style. He cut them into four separate photos and gave two to her. He told her that one would be attached to her staff record and the other for her lanyard ID card. He asked how she wanted her name to appear – Melissa, Mel or Ms Harrington. She told him to record it as Mel.

Featured Photo

The photo that I’ve chosen today is the fifth of the series that I’ll be posting in this part of my daily blog in this part of the page. As I said previously, the series is based on a walk that I did on the 19th April along the bank of the Leeds to Liverpool canal between Burscough Bridge and the ‘Ring O’Bells’ pub just over a mile away. I did the walk in both directions, accompanied by my daughter’s dog, Ted.

The image shows neighbours talking to each other across the Rufford branch of the canal leaving the main section and heading for a flight of locks. The EXIF data are as follows: The camera I used was my 24 MP Pentax KP cropped sensor camera paired with a Pentax 28-105 mm f/3.5-5.6 full-frame lens. The shutter speed was 1/125 secs @ f/7.1 and 48 mm. The ISO was 100. The shot was handheld.

Regarding Melissa #16

………Previously

Mel was incredulous – she told him off for accusing her of not listening to him and of lying that he had told her about his university acceptance. She asked him why he hadn’t even told her that he’d intended to apply. In truth she didn’t really believe that he had applied. She made it clear that she was angry that he’d tried to belittle her success. She made it clear too that if he didn’t like her family he should find somebody else – a girl from a more working-class background. When they parted for the afternoon, the tension between them had still not been resolved and they made no arrangement to meet again.

As she walked home, Mel was seething and remembering what Stacy had said to her. Even if Craig were to apologise and they were to get back together, she’d be monitoring his behaviour.

When she got back, she found that her family had, similarly, not been pleased by Craig’s behaviour and asked what she saw in him. She thanked them better frame of mind to face her new job the following morning.

Continued…….

CHAPTER THREE

The camera shop – Induction

Mel woke early on the Monday morning. As she got out of bed, she remembered that it would be her first full day at work in her new job at the shop. Her stomach lurched with anxiety. This was a big deal, quite different from a few hours a week of casual work behind a bar. A different employer, different systems, different people and different skills to develop.

The job wasn’t what she’d been looking for, but for the time being it was the only job she’d come across in more than two years of looking that at least had some relationship to photography. It would be up to her to make it work for her benefit. She wondered what they’d expect of her.

She showered and got ready quickly and went downstairs for breakfast. She could hear from the hallway that dad were already in the kitchen finishing their meal. She paused to check her appearance in the hall mirror, appraising her face with its neat straight nose, blue-grey eyes and full lips. Her hair was swept back from her face and secured in a ponytail by a  colourful scrunchie. The evening before, Mel had carefully considered what outfit she’d wear for its suitability to her expectations of the job and, in the mirror, it looked fine on her tall athletic body. She headed for the kitchen.

‘How are you feeling, love?’ her mum asked, ‘Worried?’

‘A bit,’ she admitted.

Her dad assured her that she’d be fine. He knew the people at Hannays’ and they were a friendly lot. They’d soon make her feel at home.  She felt reassured and managed to eat her breakfast  before leaving for the day, buoyed by her parents assurances and best wishes.

Her mum gave her a lift into the town.

Codmanton town centre was a quirky mixture of old and new. The coal mines were now closed, as was the old gasworks that stood on the edge of the town. Many older buildings bore the black staining of chimney-smoke and coal dust on their quarried stone walls.

New, smaller businesses, built with red bricks and glass were interposed beside and among them. Apartment blocks – some private, some built by the Council – had replaced most of the old, town-centre terraced cottages. Some of the old miners’ cottages still existed at the Southern end of the town, rising in steep, narrow rows towards the hills..

A mile South of the town centre, the Leeds to Liverpool canal passed, accompanied on its journey by the railway line that had stolen most of the cargo it once carried.

The High Street itself ran North through the town. Along, and around it, stood an ancient church, the Town Hall, municipal buildings and a commercial area. The former department stores had now decamped to a largish retail park at the North end of the town, off the High Street, as it climbed on its way to neighbouring Croxton.

What was left of the former shopping area was mainly small independent shops – some along the high street; some in a small precinct; some really old shops in the up-market arcade; and the remainder in narrow alleyways, or ginnels. There were a few restaurants, a cinema and a theatre still, but the town centre as a whole, looked as if it’s dying on its feet.

A pub and a betting shop stood across the street from a Christian bookshop, charity shops and an upmarket clothes shop.

Hannays camera shop stood just off the High Street in the precinct of newish shop premises. The Hannay family had traded in the town since Jamie’s great grandad had sold cameras from a market stall in 1947, moving to a shop in the High Street in the mid-1950s. The move to the precinct had only happened in the 1990s to escape the escalating costs of trading. Like many small local businesses, the Hannays had been trapped between the hammer of rent rises and punitive council taxes on the one hand and the anvil of reduced income as unemployment worsened.

Featured Photo

The photo that I’ve chosen today is the fourth of the series that I’ll be posting in this part of my daily blog in this part of the page. As I said previously, the series is based on a walk that I did on the 19th April along the bank of the Leeds to Liverpool canal between Burscough Bridge and the ‘Ring O’Bells’ pub just over a mile away. I did the walk in both directions, accompanied by my daughter’s dog, Ted. I’ll start with a shot I took at Burscough Bridge wharf.

The image shows the canal approaching, after some canal boats, a bridge above another section of canal, at which point the Rufford branch of the canal departs (or joins) to the left. The EXIF data are as follows: Camera used was my 24 MP Pentax KP cropped sensor camera paired with a Pentax 28-105 mm f/3.5-5.6 full-frame lens. The shutter speed was 1/125 secs @ f/8 and 88 mm. The ISO was 100. The shot was handheld.

Regarding Melissa #15

………Previously

‘From what I’ve heard,’ Mel said, still annoyed with him, ‘Brazil is the only emerging country in South America and they speak Portuguese there.’

‘Whatever. I’m quite sure that my languages degree will be quite acceptable.’ Craig told her.

Mel scowled at him.

 ‘What do you make of the council’s plans for redevelopment, Mr Harrington?’ Craig asked to change the subject.

Continued…….

Brian was saved from replying by Jack’s arrival. He redirected the subject to Jack’s team’s success the previous day. Jack was a six-foot something rugby player who owned and managed a gym on the far side of the town.

‘I believe that you ran in two tries yourself,’ Brian said.

Craig said nothing further. His attempts at conversation hadn’t gone down particularly well up to that point, and Jack was twice his size – he definitely didn’t want to get on his wrong side. He remained quiet throughout the meal. Jack was complimenting Mel on her success and, when Brian told Jack what Craig had said, Jack glowered at him. Jack shrank beneath that baleful gaze.

‘Coming from someone who’s still unemployed, that’s rich,’ he said, ‘You’ve done great, Sis. You take no notice. I think that this news will just be the start of a great career for you.’

After the meal, Craig and Mel went for a walk during which they had a frank disagreement. They meandered along a track that led to a viewpoint both over the town and, in the opposite direction, towards the hills. Craig told her that he wouldn’t be going with her to her home again. He felt that he had been belittled, and he blamed her for not standing up for him. He said that her family were too bourgeois and, anyway, what would an architect or a rugby player know about trends in language teaching?

Mel was incredulous – she told him off for accusing her of not listening to him and of lying that he had told her about his university acceptance. She asked him why he hadn’t even told her that he’d intended to apply. In truth she didn’t really believe that he had applied. She made it clear that she was angry that he’d tried to belittle her success. She made it clear too that if he didn’t like her family he should find somebody else – a girl from a more working-class background. When they parted for the afternoon, the tension between them had still not been resolved and they made no arrangement to meet again.

As she walked home, Mel was seething and remembering what Stacy had said to her. Even if Craig were to apologise and they were to get back together, she’d be monitoring his behaviour.

When she got back, she found that her family had, similarly, not been pleased by Craig’s behaviour and they asked what she saw in him. She thanked them and was in a better frame of mind to face her new job the following morning.

Featured Photo

The photo that I’ve chosen today is the fourth of the series that I’ll be posting in this part of my daily blog in this part of the page. As I said previously, the series is based on a walk that I did on the 19th April along the bank of the Leeds to Liverpool canal between Burscough Bridge and the ‘Ring O’Bells’ pub just over a mile away. I did the walk in both directions, accompanied by my daughter’s dog, Ted. I’ll start with a shot I took at Burscough Bridge wharf.

The image shows a bridge and its shadows and reflections in the canal. The EXIF data are as follows: Camera used was my 24 MP Pentax KP cropped sensor camera paired with a Pentax 28-105 mm f/3.5-5.6 full-frame lens. The shutter speed was 1/80 secs @ f/8 and 34 mm. The ISO was 100. The shot was handheld.

Regarding Melissa #14

………Previously

Stacy worried about Mel. Her friend was pretty, kind and clever, but she had no idea how to pick a suitable boyfriend. Time and again she’d agreed to go out with someone who’d seemed to be charming but had turned out to be a closet misogynist. Craig was just the latest of a bad crop.

She was genuinely pleased that Mel now had a job. Stacy was familiar with the shop and its owners – she had been ever since she’d known them through a previous role she’d had as a uniformed community constable. Because of that history, she knew Jamie Hannay – she used to fancy him before she’d been married. “Now,” she thought, “He’d be a good catch for Mel.”

Continued…….

A family lunch

The dining table was laid for five at the Harrington’s. Mel’s brother Jack hadn’t arrived yet, but Mel had brought Craig with her. Her Mum was busy in the kitchen and Brian, her dad, had been asking Craig what he thought about Mel’s career news.

They were sat on the white leather furniture in the front living room – Mel and Craig, side by side on a three-seater chesterfield couch and Brian on one of the matching easy chairs.

‘Well, it’s more a job than a career isn’t it?’ Craig said, ‘I’m sure that you’ll agree Mr Harrington that being shop assistant is hardly like what you and Mrs Harrington do – architect and teacher – they’re careers.’

‘How’s your career progressing, Craig?’ Brian asked – knowing full well that Craig was still unemployed.

A fleeting frown of annoyance passed over Craig’s features before he replied.

‘I’m thinking of doing a postgrad course and training to be a language teacher. I have written off to the University.’

Mel and her dad both spoke at once.

‘You never told me!’ Mel said.

‘What languages did you have in mind?’ Mel’s dad asked.

‘I was thinking of German and Spanish,’ Craig told Brian, while, when he turned to Mel, he said, ‘You weren’t listening. You were going on about this job of yours.’

Mel was furious. She knew that he hadn’t said any such thing and, anyway, she hadn’t interrupted anything that he’d said – he always criticised her if she did.

‘Were those your degree majors?’ Brian asked, ‘I’m sure that Jean told me that Russian and Chinese were the main shortage subjects.’

‘You’re correct that there’s certainly a demand for teachers in those languages,’ Craig replied, ‘but German will be useful for pupils who wish to work in Europe – and South America is an emerging market where Spanish will be useful.’

‘From what I’ve heard,’ Mel said, still annoyed with him, ‘Brazil is the only emerging country in South America and they speak Portuguese there.’

‘Whatever! I’m quite sure that my languages degree will be quite acceptable.’ Craig told her.

Mel scowled at him.

 ‘What do you make of the council’s plans for redevelopment, Mr Harrington?’ Craig asked to change the subject.

Featured Photo

The photo that I’ve chosen today is the third of the series that I’ll be posting in this part of my daily blog in this part of the page. As I said previously, the series is based on a walk that I did on the 19th April along the bank of the Leeds to Liverpool canal between Burscough Bridge and the ‘Ring O’Bells’ pub just over a mile away. I did the walk in both directions, accompanied by my daughter’s dog, Ted. I’ll start with a shot I took at Burscough Bridge wharf.

The image shows a moored narrowboat and its reflections in the canal. The EXIF data are as follows: Camera used was my 24 MP Pentax KP cropped sensor camera paired with a Pentax 28-105 mm f/3.5-5.6 full-frame lens. The shutter speed was 1/250 secs @ f/7.1 and 88 mm. The ISO was 100. The shot was handheld.

Regarding Melissa #13

……..Previously

Mel shook her head. ‘You’ve never liked him, Stace.’

‘Listen, Mel, in my job we often come across women whose blokes end up hitting them. Those men always start off like Craig.’

Mel shook her head again. ‘He’s never laid a finger on me – well, not to hit me.’ She laughed.

‘Okay, Mel, but whenever I’ve been out with the two of you, I hear him criticising what you’re wearing, correcting things you say – then he appeals to me for support. Things like that. It’s not nice and he would never do that if he loved you – try to belittle you to me. If he’s like that in company, I hate to think what he’s like when there’s just the two of you.’

Continued……..

‘Ah! Stace. You’re a professional cynic. He’s not like that with me.’

‘Okay, Mel. I’ll shut up about him, but you, girl – you have a think about what I’ve said, and take more note of how he behaves. Oh, and one more thing, just make sure that he doesn’t get you pregnant. A baby with him would make it damn near impossible for you to ever get him out of your life.’

The pub was filling up now. Mel asked Stacy whether she wanted another drink.

‘I’d better not kiddo,’ Stacy replied, ‘I’m driving and I’ll be on duty soon. When are you going to start driving lessons, missy?’

‘Stace, I just can’t afford it,’ Mel said, ‘The payments from the Social go to my mum for my keep – and even if I passed my test, I can’t afford to run a car never mind buy one, can I?’

‘You’re going to need a car to get to meet fellas elsewhere, Mel,’ Stacy said, ‘Escape Craig, the Codmanton Creep.’

They both laughed, but Mel was shaking her head.

Stacy persisted. ‘Jesus, Mel, you can do better than Craig for a boyfriend.’

‘You’re wrong, Stace,’ Mel replied, ‘I’m like that woman I read about once, someone from ancient Greece – I remember – Circe she was called. They say she turned all the men she met into swine,’

‘No, Mel. You’re the one who’s wrong,’ Stacy insisted, ‘Craig was already a swine.’

They both hooted with laughter.

‘Okay Stace,’ Mel argued, ‘answer me this. Why has every man I’ve ever met been already married, or gay, or had more hands than an octopus or wanted me to be their mum – those that weren’t like that were Neanderthals whose sole ambition was to get totally bladdered every night.’

‘Mel, love, getting stuck with a control freak like Craig will be even worse for you in the long run,’

‘Okay, Okay,’ Mel said, ‘I hear you. Listen, shouldn’t you be going to do your policeman’s lot for the night?’

Stacy Jackson

Mel’s friend was just a few months older than her. They lived on the same estate and often had long, serious discussions at each other’s houses. Stacy though no longer lived with her parents. She’d married a fellow officer just a couple of years after joining the police force. The couple had bought a house together using the maximum mortgage they could manage on their joint salaries. Her husband had died during an incident, when the police vehicle he was driving was hit by a lorry, whose driver had been approaching them, while overtaking, around a bend in the road. The insurance had paid off the mortgage. They’d had  were no children.

Stacy worried about Mel. Her friend was pretty, kind and clever, but she had no idea how to pick a suitable boyfriend. Time and again she’d agreed to go out with someone who’d seemed to be charming but had turned out to be a closet misogynist. Craig was just the latest of a bad crop.

She was genuinely pleased that Mel now had a job. Stacy was familiar with the shop and its owners – she had been since a previous role she’d had as a uniformed community constable. Because of that history, she knew Jamie Hannay – she used to fancy him before she’d been married. “Now,” she thought, “He’d be a good catch for Mel.”

Featured Photo

The photo that I’ve chosen today is the third of the series that I’ll be posting in this part of my daily blog in this part of the page. As I said previously, the series is based on a walk that I did on the 19th April along the bank of the Leeds to Liverpool canal between Burscough Bridge and the ‘Ring O’Bells’ pub just over a mile away. I did the walk in both directions, accompanied by my daughter’s dog, Ted. I’ll start with a shot I took at Burscough Bridge wharf.

The image looks back along the canal towards the Wharf Buildings from a few hundred metres along the towpath. The EXIF data are as follows: Camera used was my 24 MP Pentax KP cropped sensor camera paired with a Pentax 28-105 mm f/3.5-5.6 full-frame lens. The shutter speed was 1/250 secs @ f/7.1 and 88 mm. The ISO was 100. The shot was handheld.

Regarding Melissa #12

…..Previously

‘Yes, Mum,’ Mel said, ‘I do understand your concern, but most photographers want to feel in their hands what they’re thinking about buying – judge the weight, the grip and so on. Even the people who own the shop seem to expect that, with my degree and photography skills, I’ll probably want to move on eventually to make the most of them. I’ve seen inside the shop though, and I’ve met and discussed things with them. They’re lovely people, it’s full-time, reasonably paid for a starter job – and I can see how I’ll be able to learn a lot working there.’

‘All right, Mel, love, I can see you’ve thought about it. Your dad will be over the moon, I’m sure. How did you manage to get an interview?’

Mel explained, and Jean said how impressed she was.

Continued……

Brian was home from work in time to join them for their evening meal, and heard all about the job and the discussion that had occurred earlier between his wife and daughter. He thanked Mel for helping out with the meal and congratulated her on the job.

As an architect Brian often used cameras on his site visits. He was a competent photographer and had bought cameras, lenses and other equipment from Hannays’ shop over the years. He reassured his wife that the Hannays were good people and that the job would be an excellent start for Mel. Other than photographic skills, she’d be able to develop her negotiation skills by dealing with customers on a daily basis. He told Mel to mention his name to Tony Hannay when she started work.

A meeting with Stacy

Mel was met with warmth and a wall of noise and the smells of beer and food as she walked through the small door of the Farmers Arms. It was an old pub on the edge of the town and had been  considerably extended over the years. The Lounge was in the oldest part – dark oak beams across the low ceiling. The carpet had recently been replaced as part of a refurbishment. Much of the noise was coming from the other side of the bar through the gap into a newer room where a television screen was showing a live football match. That sound competed with conversation and the easy-listening music being piped around the Lounge.

She saw Stacy as soon as she entered. She was sat at a table for four against the wall opposite the bar.  As Mel approached, Stacy stood to greet her with a hug and a kiss. The two attractive, young women could easily have been mistaken for sisters, especially since they both wore similar blue denim jeggings, white tee shirts and white trainers.

‘Congratulations, Mel,’ Stacy said, ‘It sounds like you’ve landed on your feet.’

Mel had phoned Stacy even before she’d let Craig know. They had been friends since childhood and had always stayed in touch with each other since. Stacy had worked for the police since leaving school and was now a detective sergeant. Stacy asked Mel what she wanted to drink.

‘It’s my shout,’ she said, ‘Choose something expensive – we have to celebrate.’

‘Nah!’ Mel said, ‘just a glass of house white will do, thanks. I don’t intend to get bladdered. It’s been a busy day for me and I want an early night.’

‘Lightweight,’ Stacy said, ‘I bet you’re just going to sneak off to see that loser, Craig.’

When Stacy returned from the bar with the drinks, she sat and proposed a toast to her friend.

‘Well, it’s taken long enough,’ Mel said, ‘I won’t be earning half as much as you, but it’s a start.’

A roar went up from the other room. It was clear that someone had scored a goal for the favourite team of those in there.

‘Sounds like the folks  in there will be celebrating later too,’ Stacy said, ‘Shall we go in there and watch the end of the game?’

Stacy declined,  pleading that she didn’t want to stay long and, once they got absorbed into a group of the football supporters, they’d never get away.’

‘Mel, it is that waste of space bloke of yours isn’t it?’ Stacy said, ‘You’re worried that he’ll find out if you start talking to other guys. He’ll pull you down with him if you’re not careful.’

‘Come off it , Stace,’ Mel said, ‘I do know that he gets jealous – and I do get frustrated by his moods sometimes, but I won’t let him pull me down as you put it?’

‘Mel, he’s jobless and he’s a control freak. He won’t like it that you’ve got a job and he hasn’t. I bet he’s already complaining that you won’t have as much time for him.’

‘I think that you’re wrong. He just likes it when we’re together.’

‘Don’t you believe it, girl. If he had a job, the boot would be on the other foot. He wouldn’t miss you then when he had less time to see you. he’d be made up because he could talk down at you and make you feel bad.’

Mel shook her head. ‘You’ve never liked him, Stace.’

‘Listen, Mel, in my job we often come across women whose blokes end up hitting them. Those men always start off like Craig.’

Mel shook her head again. ‘He’s never laid a finger on me – well, not to hit me.’ She laughed.

‘Okay, Mel, but whenever I’ve been out with the two of you, I hear him criticising what you’re wearing, correcting things you say – then he appeals to me for support. Things like that. It’s not nice and he would never do that if he loved you – try to belittle you to me. If he’s like that in company, I hate to think what he’s like when there’s just the two of you.’

Featured Photo

The photo that I’ve chosen today is the second of the series that I’ll be posting in this part of my daily blog in this part of the page. As I said previously, the series is based on a walk that I did on the 19th April along the bank of the Leeds to Liverpool canal between Burscough Bridge and the ‘Ring O’Bells’ pub just over a mile away. I did the walk in both directions, accompanied by my daughter’s dog, Ted. I’ll start with a shot I took at Burscough Bridge wharf.

The image shows the prow of a narrowboat moored at Burscough Bridge plus reflections in the canal – below the bottom of the Wharf pavement – of the Wharf Buildings and safety fence. The EXIF data are as follows: Camera used was my 24 MP Pentax KP cropped sensor camera paired with a Pentax 28-105 mm f/3.5-5.6 full-frame lens. The shutter speed was 1/60 secs @ f/10 and 53 mm. The ISO was 100. The shot was handheld.

Regarding Melissa #11

…….Previously

‘You mean that you’re putting PC Plod Stacy Jackson before me – your boyfriend? That’s not very nice. Where are you going with PC Plod? Shall I come and join you?’

‘Not tonight, Craig. It’s a girls’ night together. Stacy and I have been mates since even before I met you – as you well know. Stop sulking and stop calling her PC Plod. It’s not nice of you.’

Craig was clearly unhappy, but Mel wasn’t the kind of person to break arrangements with her friend without good reason and she thought that Craig was becoming a bit of a drama queen.

Continued…….

Melissa and her family

Mel was stirring the contents of a pan, preparing an evening meal when her Mum walked through the door. Jean was not quite as tall as Mel, but they shared the same fair hair – though Jean’s was cut into a smart bob.

‘Hello, Mel love,’ her mum shouted from the hall, ‘Something smells good.’

The Harrington family home was on a small estate of  detached properties in, what estate agents generally called, the desirable residential area of Upperton. The carefully tended front garden and block-paved double driveway added to the house’s desirability. The estate was on a wooded rise above Codmanton. The four bedroomed house had been designed by Brian, Mel’s dad, an architect who had personally overseen every stage of its construction and landscaping. The large rear garden afforded a stunning view of the tops of the dales.

Jean and Brian were of a similar age – Brian was 49 and Jean was two years younger. She was head teacher at the local comprehensive school.

‘It’s only a chicken curry, Mum,’ Mel said, ‘Thawed-out chicken thighs and a jar of Jalfrezi. Will that be enough. There’s a supermarket apple-strudel for afters if you want it.’ With both of her parents working full-time, food that was home cooked from scratch was a luxury reserved for weekends and holidays.

The kitchen had been recently modernised with shiny, black, granite worktops adjoining the walls and on the central island unit, contrasting with white tiled walls and white drawer fronts. Suspended black lights and black and white floor tiles completed the look. This modern kitchen with its futuristic equipment seemed wasted on the basic simplicity of the meal Mel was preparing.

Her mum, hung up her coat, walked across and leaned over Mel’s shoulder to look at the chicken-thighs simmering in the sauce. She kissed her daughter on the cheek and thanked her.

‘Have you had a good day, Mum?’ Mel asked, still stirring.

‘”Good,” is relative in teaching, love. Sixty percent teaching rather than half of my time dealing with bureaucracy would be good in my life. How’s your day been?’

‘You’ll be pleased to know that I now have a full-time job to go to starting next Monday.’ Mel announced.

Jean clapped her hands to her cheeks – her mouth and eyes registering her pleasure and surprise.

‘Turn round while I give you a hug,’ she said, ‘Where? Doing what?’

Mel’s reply was muffled as her face was squeezed into her mum’s cardigan.

‘Tell me again,’ Jean said.

‘I got a job today at Hannay’s camera shop in the Precinct – permanent, full-time and more than minimum wage. Proper sick pay and holidays after a probationary period.’

‘Hannay’s?’ Jean asked, ‘You mean the little camera shop off the high street?’

‘Yes,’ Mel said, ‘on the approach into the precinct.’

‘Mmm,’ Jean said, ‘They used to have a place on the High Street, I’m sure. I hadn’t noticed that they’d moved. Probably the rents and rates for the High Street. Are you sure that’s a good move for you, love? Doesn’t everybody buy that sort of stuff online now?’

‘Yes, Mum,’ Mel said, ‘I do understand your concern, but most photographers want to feel what they’re thinking about buying in their hands – judge the weight, the grip and so on. Even the people who own the shop seem to expect that, with my degree and photography skills, I’ll probably want to move on eventually to make the most of them. I’ve seen inside the shop though, and I’ve met and discussed things with them. They’re lovely people, it’s full-time, reasonably paid for a starter job – and I can see how I’ll be able to learn a lot working there.’

‘All right, Mel, love, I can see you’ve thought about it. Your dad will be over the moon, I’m sure. How did you manage to get an interview?’

Mel explained, and Jean said how impressed she was.

Featured Photo

The photo that I’ve chosen today is the first of a series that I’ll be posting in this part of my daily blog in this part of the page. The series is based on a walk that I did on the 19th April along the bank of the Leeds to Liverpool canal between Burscough Bridge and the ‘Ring O’Bells’ pub just over a mile away. I did the walk in both directions, accompanied by my daughter’s dog, Ted. I’ll start with a shot I took at Burscough Bridge wharf.

The image shows the view along the wharf from under an arch of the road bridge (Burscough Bridge) which passes over the canal. The EXIF data are as follows: Camera used was my 24 MP Pentax KP cropped sensor camera paired with a Pentax 28-105 mm f/3.5-5.6 full-frame lens. The shutter speed was 1/100 secs @ f/10 and 28 mm. The ISO was 100. The shot was handheld.

Regarding Melissa #10

……Previously

‘You’re just jealous because I showed some initiative. Admit it. Some of us have what it takes – don’t I?’

‘Well, it’s easier for a girl to succeed at interview. I bet they saw things your way just looking at your tits and your legs.’

‘Sexist pig,’ she said. She waited because she could hear Craig’s dad talking to him, asking him what job she’d got. He was shouting at Craig telling him that if ‘Dolly Daydream’ could get a job it just showed how useless Craig must be.

Continued……….

When Craig re-joined the conversation, he told her what his dad had said.

‘Oh, I heard, she said, ‘Tell him that I heard him call me Dolly Daydream. I won’t be sending him a birthday card.’

‘Do you think that they’d employ me?’ he asked.

‘I shouldn’t think so, Craig,’ she told him, ‘There was just a note in the window saying that they wanted an assistant. Now they have me that’s probably all they need. It’s only a small shop after all.’

‘When do you start?’ Craig again.

‘Next Monday.’

‘What’s the pay like?’

‘Don’t be nosey. Better than minimum wage anyway. Before you ask, I also get sick pay and four weeks holiday after I’ve been there six-months – if they keep me on after that probationary period.’

‘What about the hours?’

‘Well,’ she hesitated, ‘they’re a bit unusual because it’s a shop.’ She paused again, I have to think how it works. Hold on.’

She rummaged round in her bag for the note she’d scribbled earlier with the details.

‘Right,’ she said, ‘thirty-nine hours a week. I’ll be working Monday through Saturday 8:30 to 4:30 with an hour for lunch and Thursday afternoons off. They’ll give me time-and-a-half for any overtime they ask me to do. Satisfied?’

‘Jesus, Mel,’ he groaned, ‘Saturdays? Really? Do you have to?’

‘Wrong attitude, Craig, for someone who wants a job,’ she said, ‘It’s a shop. People want to buy things at weekends. I’m lucky that they don’t open on Sundays – and it might come to that.’

‘When am I going to get time to see you then?’ he pleaded.

‘Craig,’ she said, ‘I’ll be home before five every day normally and I will have Thursday afternoons off – and all-day Sunday.’

‘Yes,’ he argued, ‘but my job behind the bar is almost always evening work. Can’t you get another type of work?’

‘So, which of us do you think should change their job, Craig?’ she asked. ‘My permanent, full-time, thirty-nine hours with holidays and sick pay or yours with whatever hours they say they need you a couple of nights a week? What do you think? Really?’

‘I know what you mean, Mel, but I am trying.’

‘You’re just going to have to try harder then, Craig. I’m going to be meeting a lot of male customers who have loads of money to spend on cameras. You’re going to have to up your game if you don’t want me to see you as a long-term loser.’

‘Christ, Mel,’ he said, ‘Is that a threat? Surely you’re not that shallow? You know that I’d top myself if I lost you.’

‘It’s not a threat, Craig – and I don’t like emotional blackmail,’ she said, ‘but I do want you to get real. We were never going to be able to afford a place together at the rate you’re going.’

‘Can I see you tonight to talk about things?’ he asked.

‘Sorry, Craig. I’ve promised Stacy that I’ll meet her and we’ll have a drink together to celebrate. I’ll see you tomorrow I’ve had my tea.’

‘You mean that you’re putting PC Plod Stacy Jackson before me – your boyfriend? That’s not very nice. Where are you going with PC Plod? Shall I come and join you?’

‘Not tonight, Craig. It’s a girls’ night together. Stacy and I have been mates since even before I met you. Stop sulking and stop calling her PC Plod. It’s not nice of you.’

Craig was clearly unhappy, but Mel wasn’t the kind of person to break arrangements with her friend without good reason and she thought that Craig was becoming a bit of a drama queen.

Featured Photo

Today’s image is the last of those from the evening of sunset photography on Crosby Beach, Merseyside. Tomorrow, I’ll start a series of shots that I took this week on a canal walk. When I was packing my gear away on Crosby Beach, I noticed the illuminated cranes at the container port in North Bootle. It was getting quite cold and I needed to walk a kilometre or so southwards, but I felt that the effort was worth it for this image along the beach.

I continued to use my Pentax K-1 36 MP full-frame camera and the same Pentax 24-70 mm f/2.8 lens. The EXIF data were: shutter speed 8 seconds @ f/8 and 70 mm. The ISO was 100.