She left Tony with his spreadsheets soon afterwards and returned to the shopfloor her mind buzzing excitedly – an unexpected bonus to spend and a welcome change to her role. Tony had told her that Jamie would be replacing her ID lanyard description to read, “Mel Harrington, Professional Photographer’. That had been a real morale boost for her – more so than the bonus in many ways.
When she walked back into the shopfloor, she saw that Marcus was busy with a customer and that there were a couple of people waiting for attention. She went across to talk to them before they got fed-up of waiting and walked out.
Later, when she had a chance to be alone with Jamie, she went up to where he was working and thumped him on his upper arm. He looked up from the plans he’d been making for the next Group outing.
‘You slyboots you!’ she said, ‘You knew what your dad wanted, didn’t you?’
‘Oi!’ he said, ‘That’s assault, young lady – probably sexual harassment.’
She stuck her tongue out at him, then thanked him.
‘Sexual harassment?’ she teased, ‘I could hug you for talking your dad into all that – but that would really be sexual harassment.’
She returned downstairs, but she’d noticed that Jamie had been studying an Ordnance Survey map of the southern Lakes.
They’d dated a few times since September, and sexual harassment by Jamie was no longer something she was worried about – in the shop at least – and outside the shop it was unlikely to be harassment anyway. She wondered whether the map was anything to with their plans for their next date. She was looking forward to their ‘dirty weekend’ together.
Whenever Jamie looked at Mel’s smiling face, he couldn’t help wishing that she could feel about him as he felt about her. He realised that, even with their new closeness, he’d have to be careful – he’d been well taught about the invisible lines that had to be drawn. He remembered the warnings from one of his business-organisation tutors – ‘don’t get too close to someone that you might, one day, need to fire.’ He was confused about what was happening between them.
Mel had been right that night in the park. She’d foreseen the potential problems of their getting too close and now they were considering trampling all over that advice. Whatever the risk, he admitted to himself that he was besotted and couldn’t resist her allure.
The risk of Mel committing such gross misconduct as would justify sacking her was a possibility he could never envisage happening anyway – and he’d never be able to bring himself to do it. That would mean never seeing her again.
He reflected that, as usual, life isn’t always fair.
He picked up the map that he’d been looking at then walked downstairs to talk to her again.
‘What do you think about Grizedale Forest for the Group outing? Not too far and there should be lots of Autumn colour?’
She felt some initial disappointment that his map studies had been about work rather than their weekend together, but cheered herself up by having another Lake District outing to look forward to.
They chatted about suppliers who might be talked into funding the cost of a coach – to minimise the use of Group subscriptions. That was another thing: since the magazine article, some new customers had expressed interest in joining the Group. Jamie said that he’d talk to his dad about possibly limiting the size of membership and opening a waiting list. It was either that or form a second Group. Mel agreed that a second Group would be unmanageable, and said that a waiting list for the Group they already had might even add to its cachet.
Jamie checked that Mel was happy, in her new role as Professional Photographer, to lead the Group solo and that she’d make time in her diary for it. She agreed – she was thrilled to be asked. So many good things happening at once.
Jamie promised to do some phoning around to raise funds – that was more in his province anyway as marketing guru.
Her work was getting to be known and arousing interest around the town ever since she’d approached a couple of places about displaying a few of her photos. Places like the pub, the bookshop, one of the coffee shops and the garden centre. In each case, when she’d been visiting as a customer, she’d taken her portfolio case with her and asked to see the manager . The images she’d shown had been twenty inches by sixteen – in each case different scenes around a theme. Ones that the local library had agreed to display had all been in black and white.
Most of the places had allowed her to display a brief biography on a piece of A5 card beside her images. In other places, paper copies of her bio were available near the till. The bio sheets didn’t mention whether the photos were for sale or at what prices – she felt that it would have been cheeky – but her email address and the fact that she worked at Hannays were mentioned. She’d sold several copies hat way already.
Only the previous week, the local museum had contacted her about contributing to an exhibition together with three other local photographers.
More of Liverpool. I said that I’d intended to do try my hand at street photography. I did manage to bring back a few shots. Today’s photo, the last of the street images, is a panning shot of a Deliveroo food delivery courier – on his bike, turning into Church Street, to deliver an order or orders.
Tomorrow, I start with the first of a collection of the architecture shots that I took that afternoon.
For all the street shots, I used my Pentax KP 24 MP cropped sensor camera twinned with a Pentax 16-85 mm f/3.5-5.6 mm lens at an ISO of 100. The EXIF data for this photo were 1/40 secs @ f/9and 16 mm.