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.’
‘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?’
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.”
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.