Mel had phoned Stacy as soon as she arrived home the night of Craig’s approach to her. Stacy wouldn’t be going on duty for another two hours or so. Mel asked if she could call round for advice and Mel agreed immediately. She’d picked up on the fear in her friend’s voice.
Mel was still a bit shaken by what had happened and the way that Craig had spoken to her. She told Stacy how it had started in the shop and how Craig had appeared out of nowhere.
Stacy promised that she and a friendly male officer would have a quiet word with Craig – nothing official, just some friendly advice about what could happen if he continued to make a nuisance of himself.
Mel seemed relieved – even if only to have got it off her chest.
Mum and Dad make an offer
That evening, however, she also told her mum and dad about the incident. She told them what Stacy had said, and they said they hoped that would be the end of the matter.
They were sitting in the living room of the family home. Brian remained worried. He’d been watching the sports report towards the end of the evening news, but he’d obviously heard what Mel had told Jean. He turned the TV set off.
‘What were you doing walking past that entry anyway, love?’
‘I was just making my way home from work to the bus stop,’ she said, ‘like I do most nights.’
‘Does it worry you?’ he asked.
‘No,’ she told him ‘but what’s the alternative? I can’t afford taxis on my wages. In any case, even though that’s been the only upset of its sort, it’s only part of the problem.’
‘How do you mean?’ Jean asked, sitting forward in her chair.
‘It’s probably nothing, but the last few days there’s been a bloke who keeps staring at me at the bus stop. That’s nothing unusual you might think – all women get that sometimes don’t they, Mum? This guy though is freaking me out. It’s something about the way he stares. I think that it could be described as leering. I get goosebumps when I notice him doing it. And a couple of times he seems to have deliberately chosen a seat directly behind me – even when the bus is half empty.’
Jean and Brian looked at each other.
‘I don’t like the sound of that,’ said Jean, ‘Is it both morning and night?’
‘Just at night,’ Mel said.
‘Does he get off at the same stop as you?’ Brian asked.
‘No, but I’ve noticed him watching me when the bus pulls away,’ she replied.
‘How old is he?’ Brian asked.
‘Does that make a difference?’ she asked, ‘I guess mid-thirties, tall, thin, dark, but lots of men look like that.’
‘Is there anything that we can do to help? Perhaps we can make sure that you get a lift. I bet that Jack would help out if we devised a rota.’
‘Thanks, both of you, but it wouldn’t work. I know that I’m supposed to finish at half past four, but I usually stay behind when we’re particularly busy. I don’t mind helping out. They don’t force me to stay, they’re not that kind of employer. I help because I feel almost like part of the family’
Brian looked at Jean again.
‘I don’t know what you think about this idea, love,’ he said, ‘ but Mel has a birthday coming up. Suppose we pay for driving lessons. It is time that she learned, isn’t it?’
Mel pre-empted her mum’s response.
‘Thanks, Dad,’ she said, ‘but even if I pass first time, I can’t afford a car – hire purchase, insurance, fuel and maintenance.’
They talked through the costs and Brian fired up a spreadsheet to create a cash flow forecast based on Mel’s take home pay to model her regular expenditure plus the expected costs of running a small second-hand car.
It would mean deferring her planned investment in a new camera for a while, but, looking at the spreadsheet, it seemed just about possible. Mel and her dad arranged a trip around some car showrooms for that weekend. At least, if Jean and Brian paid for driving lessons, she’d have a better idea of what to look for and how to pay for it.
That night, after Mel had gone to bed, Jean and Brian picked up on their earlier discussion. Jean planned to have a word with Jack anyway – perhaps for him to follow Mel to the bus stop from work without her knowing and seeing if he noticed anything of concern.
She also suggested that, given their personal savings, they could afford to do a bit more than give Mel advice. She’d obviously been worried and had probably understated her fears.
‘Isn’t Mel’s safety something we should prioritise,’ she said, ‘We’re not short of money are we?’
And so a rescue plan was launched to discuss with Mel the following day.
The photo that I’ve chosen today is the last in this series of nine that I’ve been posting. There hasn’t bern much changed between them – the idea was to capture the change in the light during the period that the Sun was setting.
I shot all but one of the photos in this series on 22 April this year, while I was stood on the pier at Southport, Merseyside waiting for the Sun to set. You wouldn’t believe it from the photos, but it was high tide around the time I was there. Southport beach seem to stretch out forever and seldom seems to come all the way in. The Sun is in the final stage of it’s descent in today’s image and the clouds are still gaining underlit colour.
The EXIF data are as follows: Camera used for all the shots was my 36 MP Pentax K-1 full-frame camera paired with a Pentax 24-70 mm f/2.8 full-frame lens. In every case the ISO was 100. All shots were handheld and used only natural light. I post-processed all the shots in Lightroom.
For this shot the shutter speed was 1/25 secs @ f/16 and 35 mm.