When Stacy’s appetite for news about Mel’s job was satisfied, the subject moved on to Craig. Stacy was not so much incredulous as disgusted by what she heard. She told Mel that never admitting when they are wrong is a classic sign of control freaks – as is belittling their target.
‘Dump him, Mel,’ she advised, ‘He’s bad news.’
‘I’ve told him now to call me tomorrow.’ Mel said, ‘I’ll give him one more chance, but I’ve let him see that I’m not a pushover.’
‘Make sure that he knows that he’s in the “Last Chance Saloon” then, but I think that he’ll take comfort from the fact that you appear to have forgiven him. Watch him like a hawk, Mel.’
Jamie Hamilton Hannay – the Hamilton from his mother’s side of the family – was both a delight and a puzzle to his mother. He was always considerate, kind and hard-working, but she couldn’t understand why he was still single. He was good looking – she was certain that her view on that score was not just because he was her son. She had, on occasion, wondered whether he might be gay, but he’d never seemed to seek out male company and he’d had several girlfriends. He just didn’t seem interested in marriage or commitment– sort of an eternal bachelor.
She wondered too whether he was ever going to flee the nest – buy a place of his own. He had savings that she knew of – certainly enough for a deposit on one of the local houses. It wasn’t that she was wishing to get rid of him, but surely, she thought, he should be wanting that kind of independence at his age. Living with us, his parents, is bound to put many young women off – they’ll think he’s a “Mummy’s Boy”.’
He’d been out with quite a few girls, but the only ones that he’d ever been out with for any length of time had been ones that he’d known since he was at school. None of those relationships had lasted long. Few girls seemed prepared to put up with the hours that he worked in the family business. The ones whose own families were in business always seemed to be searching for someone from a wealthier background – perhaps aiming for mini-dynasties.
Jamie’s problem with girls, other than those seeking their fortune, had most often been because of his introverted nature. Part of the explanation for Jamie’s personality went back some years.
From his earliest years, he’d attended first Sunday school and then adult services at the local parish church. It wasn’t that any of his family were particularly religious, it was more that some of his friends also went there. His mum and dad had attended those services in which he’d participated in an activity with others of his age. Those times had usually been within a Morning Prayer service.
He’d enjoyed the Bible studies and had believed them quite literally. It was only in his later teens that he’d began to question his faith. By that time he’d got used to being made fun of by his peer group as a ‘creeping Jesus’ or worse. Whenever he’d try to justify his belief, it had never ended well. His fellow pupils had just laughed at him more and he became more withdrawn. Eventually he’d stopped going to church altogether and kept his beliefs – such as they were – to himself.
At secondary school, there had been a teacher, who’d advised him badly. That teacher’s responsibilities had included careers advice for older pupils. He’d not been particularly suited to the post. The teacher had attended what had previously been a grammar school, and from the sixth form he’d used his A level GCEs to begin a university course in history and political science. On graduation, he’d chosen to do a postgraduate year to become a teacher and this had led to his employment at Jamie’s school some years previously.
Thus, a man who had never been employed in industry or commerce had been deemed, in his later teaching years, to be somehow qualified to advise pupils about careers they might be suited for on leaving school – to areas of occupation that he’d never experienced himself.
So it was that towards the end of the summer term of Jamie’s final year at school, Mr Boyd, for that was his name, had told Jamie that he should seek a career in sales and marketing. He’d have perhaps chosen better had he stuck a pin in a list of career options.
Jamie, quiet and studious, had never been the type of lad you’d associate with almost any type of salesmanship. You could however imagine him in a market research role using statistical techniques to interpret trends – but for such a role, a degree in mathematics and statistics would have been a better choice.
Jamie had taken Mr Boyd’s advice and had earned a good class of degree in strategic marketing management. Most of his male fellow students were ambitious, competitive and had outgoing personalities. He had little in common with them, and was seldom invited to join them in their social activities.
He’d been popular with the female students who’d noticed his good looks, his good manners and his sensitivity. It hadn’t been so much pity as seeing in him someone they could talk to, someone who would listen, someone who would see in them more than their chest size.
Jamie had seldom been short of girls who’d approached him with invitations to join them at university clubs or concerts or films. He’d often accepted such invitations, but had been usually embarrassed and tongue-tied when the relationship began to move towards anything more romantic. So, girls usually gave up on him in frustration- and attending events such as girls chose had seemed, anyway, to alienate him yet further among the more macho male students. His university years had thus been the unhappiest years of his life.
Approaching graduation, he’d recognised that applying for a marketing post would probably mean working with the exactly type of people he’d studied with, so he’d asked his dad about working in the shop.
Now, for the first time in his life, Jamie felt fairly comfortable in his skin. The skills that he’d learned at university he brought to bear in the shop. Customers all seemed to like him and he felt safe surrounded by his family.
He’d even had dates with a couple of young women customers who’d bought smartphones from him, but he’d usually been the one to call a halt – when he felt out of his depth. The sex was often fine, but he never felt comfortable once the relationship started to become more serious. He always felt guilty but would have felt more guilty about promising any greater commitment that he did not feel wholeheartedly.
In 2015, at the time Mel began work in the shop, Jamie had no girlfriends in tow – that had been the case for several months now. Lucy was beginning to despair of ever having grandchildren until Tracy had obliged a few weeks previously. Still, it would be nice if Jamie were to meet someone suitable.
The photo that I’ve chosen today is the ninth 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 a child’s swing in a farmyard alongside 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/8 and 28 mm. The ISO was 100. The shot was handheld.