As the music for the dance ended, they moved apart, Mel smiled at him, squeezed his hand and let him lead her to their seats with her family. She knew that Brian and Jean – who thought the world of Jamie – would make him feel more comfortable. He used a handkerchief to wipe-off his perspiration.
‘Never mind, Jamie,’ Tony said, ‘just think of it as a practice run for if you and Mel ever tie the knot’
Both Mel and Jamie, looked at each other, open mouthed – Mel with shock and Jamie with hope.
‘In his dreams,’ Mel said.
Jamie’s heart sank.
October 2016 was a month to remember for several reasons.
To Stacy – a child
Stacy had told Mel, even before the wedding, that she was pregnant but, at three months, it hadn’t caused any problems with the fitting of her dress. She’d continued to work for as long as she could before she took maternity leave, and no problems were anticipated with the birth.
Mel had visited Stacy throughout the pregnancy to provide both moral and any other form of support that she could – especially when Connor was working on a major case, when he was unable to be with his wife.
Amber was born in the early hours of Saturday the second of October, weighing six pounds-three-ounces or two-point-eight kilograms. Both mother and daughter came through with flying colours and Connor cried tears of joy as he watched his little girl arrive.
Mel was at work, but Stacy’s mum messaged her to pass on the good news. That evening, she and Jamie turned up at the hospital with flowers, a card, and kisses. They both commented on inherited features, such as Stacy’s nose, eyes and mouth but Connor’s hair colour and hands.
Only a few days later, on the fifth, there was another celebration: it was Elaine’s second birthday. Once more, Jamie and Mel were together, but this time at Tracy’s house. It was Mel’s first visit there.
Jake showed her around the rooms and garden, while Tracy combined roles of keeping a watchful eye on Elaine, with entertaining her guests. Elaine toddled around with increasing confidence, trying out her limited vocabulary on anyone she could find to listen.
Birthday cards seemed to be everywhere, and the house was decorated with banners. Tracy and Lucy had obviously been busy – the dining table was laden with a mountainous buffet and a side-table bore various bottles of wine. Cans of beer and lager were available in supermarket boxes on the floor beneath the table.
The house had four bedrooms – two doubles and two singles – and was tastefully decorated in a modern style. Mel was impressed and said so to Jake. She also liked the way that the rear garden had been planted.
When she had a chance to speak to Tracy, she was encouraged to hold Elaine on her knee. She asked Tracy how she was managing sleep, because she’d heard that Elaine’s teething had led to Tracy – and often Connor – not getting much rest through the night. Some three-quarters of Elaine’s baby teeth were through now, but there looked to be a couple of years to wait yet.
Tracy asked whether Mel was getting broody, celebrating a birth and a baby’s birthday within such a short time.
‘No way, Jose!’ was Mel’s instant reply.
Later that evening, back at home, describing the events of the past week to Stacy, she was asked the same question. As she answered, Mel wondered whether she really believed in her denial or if she were merely fooling herself. At twenty-six years of age, her biological clock wouldn’t tick forever in that respect. And it had been nice when Elaine had rested her head, sleepy from all the excitement, against her shoulder.
The death and funeral of Duncan
The second week in October brought sad news to dim Mel’s rejoicing. Jamie’s great grandad, Duncan Hannay, passed away peacefully in hospital aged ninety-seven. He’d been admitted earlier that week with pneumonia.
At his age, it had not come as a great surprise. He’d fallen, tripping over a footstool at home. A neighbour had summoned an ambulance, and a paramedic had checked him over. He’d been taken to the Accident and Emergency unit of the city hospital, and the staff there had informed Alec, as Duncan’s son and next of kin.
Alec was no youngster himself at seventy-seven, and Tony had been enrolled to help with the formalities associated with registering the death and dealing with the funeral arrangements on the one hand and probate on the other.
The funeral took place at the small parish church at Upperton on the afternoon of Thursday in the third week in October. The traditional Anglican service was attended by a large congregation of those who’d come to say farewell – many of whom had to stand throughout the ceremony because the pews had been filled.
Tony had closed the shop for the day as a mark of respect. Mel was as tearful as any of Jamie’s family – she had sat with Jamie in the church – he wore a black necktie with his white shirt and grey suit, and she had on a black dress beneath a dark grey topcoat. Her own mum and dad were in church also. Brian had known Duncan well.
Mel had come to love and respect the old man and she’d visited him at home with Jamie several times since she’d met him. She and Duncan had grown very close, discussing and having friendly arguments about changes in cameras, lenses and photographic technique. After he passed on, Mel discovered that he had left her his prized 1938 Leica model IIIF camera.
Duncan had been well-known – and well-liked – in the town – especially by those who, themselves were in their seventies and older.
He was buried in the church graveyard, and his life was later celebrated by family and friends at a local hotel.
October 2016 was rounded off by the baptism – or christening – of Stacy and Connor’s baby, Amber, in Codmanton’s Methodist chapel on Sunday the thirtieth. Here again, there was a full congregation to hear the vows of parents and godparents and the congregation, to “turn away from evil and all that denies God, and to turn to God, trusting in Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour, and in the Holy Spirit as Helper and Guide”. Traditional baptismal hymns, including ‘To be a pilgrim’ and ‘Guide me O Thou Great Redeemer’, raised the roof – assisted by the deep voices of the local police contingent.
Following the service, many of those who had been at the service piled into Stacy and Connor’s home to ‘wet the baby’s head’ in the local fashion and to deliver an assortment of gifts.
As the month ended, Mel reflected on the six months past – a marriage, a birth, a growing child, and a death. She pondered how her own life would relate to those seasons and how she should weigh the decisions that she knew that she should not, could not postpone forever.
Today, I begin a new series of location based photos. All of the photos will be taken in and around the Yorkshire town of Hebden Bridge, where I spent a Saturday earlier in June.
This first shot sets the scene. It shows the town from above. I took it from Valley View Road, Heptonstall, a small village above Hebden Bridge. I’ll be including some photos of that village later in the series.
For all these 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 1/125 secs @ f/3.5 and 20 mm.