Fran had watched the exchange from across the room, terrified of a catfight breaking out, but Cathy remained composed and carried on with her work.
But as Marjorie was walking towards the room, she was also muttering under her breath, “You haven’t heard the last of this, bitch!”
Tuesday 3rd May St Philips Church Hall
Cathy had arrived with Mary and Geoff in Geoff’s car. She was unloading his equipment with him as Steve arrived. He took over so that Cathy could go inside out of the rain. Mary had got her table erected and a chair in place as she got ready to take people’s entry money. She would be kept busy for the first fifteen minutes of the proceedings as latecomers arrived. Cathy started setting chairs out, but Steve came to help her as soon as he and Geoff had finished. Steve lifted the tables from the storeroom and erected then where they needed to go. It wasn’t long before reinforcements arrived to lend a hand.
Steve went across and sat with Cathy.
“Hi, sweetheart,” he said, “Have you had a good day?”
“I had a bloody awful morning,” she said and told him of her encounter with Marjorie.
“I should have been there to hold your coats,” he said.
“To hold my coat,” she corrected him. “You’d have been welcome to stand on hers.”
He laughed, “Did Fran take a video? I’d love to see it.”
She thumped him. “It’s no joking matter,” she protested.
He hugged her, “She’s harmless,” he said.
She looked at him, disbelievingly.
Their table was filling up by now so no more was said on the subject.
The couple need not have feared that they would still be the centre of attention. Mercifully, the elections of the coming Thursday occupied the minds of the people at every table.
“I reckon Tony Blair’s definitely going to win.”
“Well I reckon It’s going to the wire this time.”
“We’ve got record employment figures through Labour.”
“Yes, but they’re not real jobs. 100,000 manufacturing jobs lost.”
And so it went. Steve and Cathy were left in peace. Everybody knew about them by now, of course: the local grapevine was more efficient than any computer at passing on – though perhaps distorting the news.
Tuesday 3rd May Marjorie’s house
“I’m going to need your help, Julian,” Marjorie said, as they settled down for a quiet evening without other commitments.
“My wish is your command, m’lady,” he replied, “How can I help.”
“I want to teach that goody-goody witch a lesson,” she said.
She had told Julian all about the exchange with Cathy at the Library.
“He thinks that all is forgiven, and she thinks that she’s got one over on me,” she said.
“How has she got one over on you, my love?” he asked.
“She thinks that I’m the loser because I had to walk out to attract his attention. She thinks that he’s not going to be distracted from her. Maybe she’s right, But I want her to think that he has been.”
“Okay,” he said, “How’s that going to happen – and why do you need my support?”
“We’re going to appear to kiss in public,” she explained, “that’s my part, but I’ll need you to photograph it as backup.”
“Backup?” he asked, “to what or in case of what?”
“Later this month, children from the top year at my school will go, in groups – over about four or five days – to the Comprehensive school, where Steve works. He’s usually involved – and I’ll make sure that I will be too.”
“And?” he asked.
The first two days I’ll play nicely as a follow up to Sunday morning – just chatting – all friendly, all is forgiven stuff. I’ll establish a pattern of walking to the school gates with him and parting with a wave. On the third day, as we reach the gate, I’ll take his hand and swing us together into an embrace in which I kiss him. Come on, we’ve done similar things in plays before. All the primary children’s parents will be watching – plus some of the secondary ones. Maybe some teachers will see it too. I’m fireproof – he’s my ex so why shouldn’t I, but when it reaches Cathy’s ears, he’s as good as dead. He won’t be able to warn her beforehand.”
“So,” he said, “back up?”
I want a photo,” she said, “That’s your role, David Bailey.”
“It sounds okay in principle,” he said, “but a lot of things could go wrong.
“Listen, all those school Mums will know what they’ve seen. Even without a photo, the word will go round like wildfire,” she said, “What else do we do for entertainment on Tuesday evenings.”
“I need an honest answer,” he said, “How do I know that winning him back and dumping me is NOT your agenda? How will I know that those first few days you aren’t softening him up for something long term? That way, you’d get your own back on Cathy, he’d gain his wife back, lose some friends perhaps, but all I’m left with would be a photo to remind me how I lost you.”
“Oh, God, Julian,” she said, “I do love you so much.”
“Yes, but you’re a good actress. How do I know that you’re not acting now?”
“Julian, if we don’t trust each other, we have nothing do we?”
“Okay,” he said, “When?”
“Week commencing 16th May,” she said.
“Not long to go then. Do I deserve a kiss for agreeing to this dastardly deal?”
“Of course,” she said and lifted her face to his.
The opening photo today is one that I’ve used before to signify St Philip’s Church Hall during a weekly dance evening. By the end of today’s post. however, we’ve moved scene to the home of Marjorie and Julian, where Marjorie plots revenge. The plot entails her using an annual familarising visit to the local high school, for final year children, from the primary school where she teaches. I’ve used a photo of such a primary school to symbolise this.
EXIF data were: Fujifilm X-T4 26 MP cropped sensor mirrorless camera and Fujinon XF 23 mm f/2 lens. 1/2900 secs @ f/5.6 and 23.7 mm. The ISO was 8,000.