Regarding Melissa #16

………Previously

Mel was incredulous – she told him off for accusing her of not listening to him and of lying that he had told her about his university acceptance. She asked him why he hadn’t even told her that he’d intended to apply. In truth she didn’t really believe that he had applied. She made it clear that she was angry that he’d tried to belittle her success. She made it clear too that if he didn’t like her family he should find somebody else – a girl from a more working-class background. When they parted for the afternoon, the tension between them had still not been resolved and they made no arrangement to meet again.

As she walked home, Mel was seething and remembering what Stacy had said to her. Even if Craig were to apologise and they were to get back together, she’d be monitoring his behaviour.

When she got back, she found that her family had, similarly, not been pleased by Craig’s behaviour and asked what she saw in him. She thanked them better frame of mind to face her new job the following morning.

Continued…….

CHAPTER THREE

The camera shop – Induction

Mel woke early on the Monday morning. As she got out of bed, she remembered that it would be her first full day at work in her new job at the shop. Her stomach lurched with anxiety. This was a big deal, quite different from a few hours a week of casual work behind a bar. A different employer, different systems, different people and different skills to develop.

The job wasn’t what she’d been looking for, but for the time being it was the only job she’d come across in more than two years of looking that at least had some relationship to photography. It would be up to her to make it work for her benefit. She wondered what they’d expect of her.

She showered and got ready quickly and went downstairs for breakfast. She could hear from the hallway that dad were already in the kitchen finishing their meal. She paused to check her appearance in the hall mirror, appraising her face with its neat straight nose, blue-grey eyes and full lips. Her hair was swept back from her face and secured in a ponytail by a  colourful scrunchie. The evening before, Mel had carefully considered what outfit she’d wear for its suitability to her expectations of the job and, in the mirror, it looked fine on her tall athletic body. She headed for the kitchen.

‘How are you feeling, love?’ her mum asked, ‘Worried?’

‘A bit,’ she admitted.

Her dad assured her that she’d be fine. He knew the people at Hannays’ and they were a friendly lot. They’d soon make her feel at home.  She felt reassured and managed to eat her breakfast  before leaving for the day, buoyed by her parents assurances and best wishes.

Her mum gave her a lift into the town.

Codmanton town centre was a quirky mixture of old and new. The coal mines were now closed, as was the old gasworks that stood on the edge of the town. Many older buildings bore the black staining of chimney-smoke and coal dust on their quarried stone walls.

New, smaller businesses, built with red bricks and glass were interposed beside and among them. Apartment blocks – some private, some built by the Council – had replaced most of the old, town-centre terraced cottages. Some of the old miners’ cottages still existed at the Southern end of the town, rising in steep, narrow rows towards the hills..

A mile South of the town centre, the Leeds to Liverpool canal passed, accompanied on its journey by the railway line that had stolen most of the cargo it once carried.

The High Street itself ran North through the town. Along, and around it, stood an ancient church, the Town Hall, municipal buildings and a commercial area. The former department stores had now decamped to a largish retail park at the North end of the town, off the High Street, as it climbed on its way to neighbouring Croxton.

What was left of the former shopping area was mainly small independent shops – some along the high street; some in a small precinct; some really old shops in the up-market arcade; and the remainder in narrow alleyways, or ginnels. There were a few restaurants, a cinema and a theatre still, but the town centre as a whole, looked as if it’s dying on its feet.

A pub and a betting shop stood across the street from a Christian bookshop, charity shops and an upmarket clothes shop.

Hannays camera shop stood just off the High Street in the precinct of newish shop premises. The Hannay family had traded in the town since Jamie’s great grandad had sold cameras from a market stall in 1947, moving to a shop in the High Street in the mid-1950s. The move to the precinct had only happened in the 1990s to escape the escalating costs of trading. Like many small local businesses, the Hannays had been trapped between the hammer of rent rises and punitive council taxes on the one hand and the anvil of reduced income as unemployment worsened.

Featured Photo

The photo that I’ve chosen today is the fourth 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. I’ll start with a shot I took at Burscough Bridge wharf.

The image shows the canal approaching, after some canal boats, a bridge above another section of canal, at which point the Rufford branch of the canal departs (or joins) to the left. 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 1/125 secs @ f/8 and 88 mm. The ISO was 100. The shot was handheld.

Regarding Melissa #15

………Previously

‘From what I’ve heard,’ Mel said, still annoyed with him, ‘Brazil is the only emerging country in South America and they speak Portuguese there.’

‘Whatever. I’m quite sure that my languages degree will be quite acceptable.’ Craig told her.

Mel scowled at him.

 ‘What do you make of the council’s plans for redevelopment, Mr Harrington?’ Craig asked to change the subject.

Continued…….

Brian was saved from replying by Jack’s arrival. He redirected the subject to Jack’s team’s success the previous day. Jack was a six-foot something rugby player who owned and managed a gym on the far side of the town.

‘I believe that you ran in two tries yourself,’ Brian said.

Craig said nothing further. His attempts at conversation hadn’t gone down particularly well up to that point, and Jack was twice his size – he definitely didn’t want to get on his wrong side. He remained quiet throughout the meal. Jack was complimenting Mel on her success and, when Brian told Jack what Craig had said, Jack glowered at him. Jack shrank beneath that baleful gaze.

‘Coming from someone who’s still unemployed, that’s rich,’ he said, ‘You’ve done great, Sis. You take no notice. I think that this news will just be the start of a great career for you.’

After the meal, Craig and Mel went for a walk during which they had a frank disagreement. They meandered along a track that led to a viewpoint both over the town and, in the opposite direction, towards the hills. Craig told her that he wouldn’t be going with her to her home again. He felt that he had been belittled, and he blamed her for not standing up for him. He said that her family were too bourgeois and, anyway, what would an architect or a rugby player know about trends in language teaching?

Mel was incredulous – she told him off for accusing her of not listening to him and of lying that he had told her about his university acceptance. She asked him why he hadn’t even told her that he’d intended to apply. In truth she didn’t really believe that he had applied. She made it clear that she was angry that he’d tried to belittle her success. She made it clear too that if he didn’t like her family he should find somebody else – a girl from a more working-class background. When they parted for the afternoon, the tension between them had still not been resolved and they made no arrangement to meet again.

As she walked home, Mel was seething and remembering what Stacy had said to her. Even if Craig were to apologise and they were to get back together, she’d be monitoring his behaviour.

When she got back, she found that her family had, similarly, not been pleased by Craig’s behaviour and they asked what she saw in him. She thanked them and was in a better frame of mind to face her new job the following morning.

Featured Photo

The photo that I’ve chosen today is the fourth 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. I’ll start with a shot I took at Burscough Bridge wharf.

The image shows a bridge and its shadows and reflections in 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 1/80 secs @ f/8 and 34 mm. The ISO was 100. The shot was handheld.

Regarding Melissa #14

………Previously

Stacy worried about Mel. Her friend was pretty, kind and clever, but she had no idea how to pick a suitable boyfriend. Time and again she’d agreed to go out with someone who’d seemed to be charming but had turned out to be a closet misogynist. Craig was just the latest of a bad crop.

She was genuinely pleased that Mel now had a job. Stacy was familiar with the shop and its owners – she had been ever since she’d known them through a previous role she’d had as a uniformed community constable. Because of that history, she knew Jamie Hannay – she used to fancy him before she’d been married. “Now,” she thought, “He’d be a good catch for Mel.”

Continued…….

A family lunch

The dining table was laid for five at the Harrington’s. Mel’s brother Jack hadn’t arrived yet, but Mel had brought Craig with her. Her Mum was busy in the kitchen and Brian, her dad, had been asking Craig what he thought about Mel’s career news.

They were sat on the white leather furniture in the front living room – Mel and Craig, side by side on a three-seater chesterfield couch and Brian on one of the matching easy chairs.

‘Well, it’s more a job than a career isn’t it?’ Craig said, ‘I’m sure that you’ll agree Mr Harrington that being shop assistant is hardly like what you and Mrs Harrington do – architect and teacher – they’re careers.’

‘How’s your career progressing, Craig?’ Brian asked – knowing full well that Craig was still unemployed.

A fleeting frown of annoyance passed over Craig’s features before he replied.

‘I’m thinking of doing a postgrad course and training to be a language teacher. I have written off to the University.’

Mel and her dad both spoke at once.

‘You never told me!’ Mel said.

‘What languages did you have in mind?’ Mel’s dad asked.

‘I was thinking of German and Spanish,’ Craig told Brian, while, when he turned to Mel, he said, ‘You weren’t listening. You were going on about this job of yours.’

Mel was furious. She knew that he hadn’t said any such thing and, anyway, she hadn’t interrupted anything that he’d said – he always criticised her if she did.

‘Were those your degree majors?’ Brian asked, ‘I’m sure that Jean told me that Russian and Chinese were the main shortage subjects.’

‘You’re correct that there’s certainly a demand for teachers in those languages,’ Craig replied, ‘but German will be useful for pupils who wish to work in Europe – and South America is an emerging market where Spanish will be useful.’

‘From what I’ve heard,’ Mel said, still annoyed with him, ‘Brazil is the only emerging country in South America and they speak Portuguese there.’

‘Whatever! I’m quite sure that my languages degree will be quite acceptable.’ Craig told her.

Mel scowled at him.

 ‘What do you make of the council’s plans for redevelopment, Mr Harrington?’ Craig asked to change the subject.

Featured Photo

The photo that I’ve chosen today is the third 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. I’ll start with a shot I took at Burscough Bridge wharf.

The image shows a moored narrowboat and its reflections in 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 1/250 secs @ f/7.1 and 88 mm. The ISO was 100. The shot was handheld.

Regarding Melissa #13

……..Previously

Mel shook her head. ‘You’ve never liked him, Stace.’

‘Listen, Mel, in my job we often come across women whose blokes end up hitting them. Those men always start off like Craig.’

Mel shook her head again. ‘He’s never laid a finger on me – well, not to hit me.’ She laughed.

‘Okay, Mel, but whenever I’ve been out with the two of you, I hear him criticising what you’re wearing, correcting things you say – then he appeals to me for support. Things like that. It’s not nice and he would never do that if he loved you – try to belittle you to me. If he’s like that in company, I hate to think what he’s like when there’s just the two of you.’

Continued……..

‘Ah! Stace. You’re a professional cynic. He’s not like that with me.’

‘Okay, Mel. I’ll shut up about him, but you, girl – you have a think about what I’ve said, and take more note of how he behaves. Oh, and one more thing, just make sure that he doesn’t get you pregnant. A baby with him would make it damn near impossible for you to ever get him out of your life.’

The pub was filling up now. Mel asked Stacy whether she wanted another drink.

‘I’d better not kiddo,’ Stacy replied, ‘I’m driving and I’ll be on duty soon. When are you going to start driving lessons, missy?’

‘Stace, I just can’t afford it,’ Mel said, ‘The payments from the Social go to my mum for my keep – and even if I passed my test, I can’t afford to run a car never mind buy one, can I?’

‘You’re going to need a car to get to meet fellas elsewhere, Mel,’ Stacy said, ‘Escape Craig, the Codmanton Creep.’

They both laughed, but Mel was shaking her head.

Stacy persisted. ‘Jesus, Mel, you can do better than Craig for a boyfriend.’

‘You’re wrong, Stace,’ Mel replied, ‘I’m like that woman I read about once, someone from ancient Greece – I remember – Circe she was called. They say she turned all the men she met into swine,’

‘No, Mel. You’re the one who’s wrong,’ Stacy insisted, ‘Craig was already a swine.’

They both hooted with laughter.

‘Okay Stace,’ Mel argued, ‘answer me this. Why has every man I’ve ever met been already married, or gay, or had more hands than an octopus or wanted me to be their mum – those that weren’t like that were Neanderthals whose sole ambition was to get totally bladdered every night.’

‘Mel, love, getting stuck with a control freak like Craig will be even worse for you in the long run,’

‘Okay, Okay,’ Mel said, ‘I hear you. Listen, shouldn’t you be going to do your policeman’s lot for the night?’

Stacy Jackson

Mel’s friend was just a few months older than her. They lived on the same estate and often had long, serious discussions at each other’s houses. Stacy though no longer lived with her parents. She’d married a fellow officer just a couple of years after joining the police force. The couple had bought a house together using the maximum mortgage they could manage on their joint salaries. Her husband had died during an incident, when the police vehicle he was driving was hit by a lorry, whose driver had been approaching them, while overtaking, around a bend in the road. The insurance had paid off the mortgage. They’d had  were no children.

Stacy worried about Mel. Her friend was pretty, kind and clever, but she had no idea how to pick a suitable boyfriend. Time and again she’d agreed to go out with someone who’d seemed to be charming but had turned out to be a closet misogynist. Craig was just the latest of a bad crop.

She was genuinely pleased that Mel now had a job. Stacy was familiar with the shop and its owners – she had been since a previous role she’d had as a uniformed community constable. Because of that history, she knew Jamie Hannay – she used to fancy him before she’d been married. “Now,” she thought, “He’d be a good catch for Mel.”

Featured Photo

The photo that I’ve chosen today is the third 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. I’ll start with a shot I took at Burscough Bridge wharf.

The image looks back along the canal towards the Wharf Buildings from a few hundred metres along the towpath. 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 1/250 secs @ f/7.1 and 88 mm. The ISO was 100. The shot was handheld.

Regarding Melissa #12

…..Previously

‘Yes, Mum,’ Mel said, ‘I do understand your concern, but most photographers want to feel in their hands what they’re thinking about buying – judge the weight, the grip and so on. Even the people who own the shop seem to expect that, with my degree and photography skills, I’ll probably want to move on eventually to make the most of them. I’ve seen inside the shop though, and I’ve met and discussed things with them. They’re lovely people, it’s full-time, reasonably paid for a starter job – and I can see how I’ll be able to learn a lot working there.’

‘All right, Mel, love, I can see you’ve thought about it. Your dad will be over the moon, I’m sure. How did you manage to get an interview?’

Mel explained, and Jean said how impressed she was.

Continued……

Brian was home from work in time to join them for their evening meal, and heard all about the job and the discussion that had occurred earlier between his wife and daughter. He thanked Mel for helping out with the meal and congratulated her on the job.

As an architect Brian often used cameras on his site visits. He was a competent photographer and had bought cameras, lenses and other equipment from Hannays’ shop over the years. He reassured his wife that the Hannays were good people and that the job would be an excellent start for Mel. Other than photographic skills, she’d be able to develop her negotiation skills by dealing with customers on a daily basis. He told Mel to mention his name to Tony Hannay when she started work.

A meeting with Stacy

Mel was met with warmth and a wall of noise and the smells of beer and food as she walked through the small door of the Farmers Arms. It was an old pub on the edge of the town and had been  considerably extended over the years. The Lounge was in the oldest part – dark oak beams across the low ceiling. The carpet had recently been replaced as part of a refurbishment. Much of the noise was coming from the other side of the bar through the gap into a newer room where a television screen was showing a live football match. That sound competed with conversation and the easy-listening music being piped around the Lounge.

She saw Stacy as soon as she entered. She was sat at a table for four against the wall opposite the bar.  As Mel approached, Stacy stood to greet her with a hug and a kiss. The two attractive, young women could easily have been mistaken for sisters, especially since they both wore similar blue denim jeggings, white tee shirts and white trainers.

‘Congratulations, Mel,’ Stacy said, ‘It sounds like you’ve landed on your feet.’

Mel had phoned Stacy even before she’d let Craig know. They had been friends since childhood and had always stayed in touch with each other since. Stacy had worked for the police since leaving school and was now a detective sergeant. Stacy asked Mel what she wanted to drink.

‘It’s my shout,’ she said, ‘Choose something expensive – we have to celebrate.’

‘Nah!’ Mel said, ‘just a glass of house white will do, thanks. I don’t intend to get bladdered. It’s been a busy day for me and I want an early night.’

‘Lightweight,’ Stacy said, ‘I bet you’re just going to sneak off to see that loser, Craig.’

When Stacy returned from the bar with the drinks, she sat and proposed a toast to her friend.

‘Well, it’s taken long enough,’ Mel said, ‘I won’t be earning half as much as you, but it’s a start.’

A roar went up from the other room. It was clear that someone had scored a goal for the favourite team of those in there.

‘Sounds like the folks  in there will be celebrating later too,’ Stacy said, ‘Shall we go in there and watch the end of the game?’

Stacy declined,  pleading that she didn’t want to stay long and, once they got absorbed into a group of the football supporters, they’d never get away.’

‘Mel, it is that waste of space bloke of yours isn’t it?’ Stacy said, ‘You’re worried that he’ll find out if you start talking to other guys. He’ll pull you down with him if you’re not careful.’

‘Come off it , Stace,’ Mel said, ‘I do know that he gets jealous – and I do get frustrated by his moods sometimes, but I won’t let him pull me down as you put it?’

‘Mel, he’s jobless and he’s a control freak. He won’t like it that you’ve got a job and he hasn’t. I bet he’s already complaining that you won’t have as much time for him.’

‘I think that you’re wrong. He just likes it when we’re together.’

‘Don’t you believe it, girl. If he had a job, the boot would be on the other foot. He wouldn’t miss you then when he had less time to see you. he’d be made up because he could talk down at you and make you feel bad.’

Mel shook her head. ‘You’ve never liked him, Stace.’

‘Listen, Mel, in my job we often come across women whose blokes end up hitting them. Those men always start off like Craig.’

Mel shook her head again. ‘He’s never laid a finger on me – well, not to hit me.’ She laughed.

‘Okay, Mel, but whenever I’ve been out with the two of you, I hear him criticising what you’re wearing, correcting things you say – then he appeals to me for support. Things like that. It’s not nice and he would never do that if he loved you – try to belittle you to me. If he’s like that in company, I hate to think what he’s like when there’s just the two of you.’

Featured Photo

The photo that I’ve chosen today is the second 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. I’ll start with a shot I took at Burscough Bridge wharf.

The image shows the prow of a narrowboat moored at Burscough Bridge plus reflections in the canal – below the bottom of the Wharf pavement – of the Wharf Buildings and safety fence. 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 1/60 secs @ f/10 and 53 mm. The ISO was 100. The shot was handheld.

Regarding Melissa #11

…….Previously

‘You mean that you’re putting PC Plod Stacy Jackson before me – your boyfriend? That’s not very nice. Where are you going with PC Plod? Shall I come and join you?’

‘Not tonight, Craig. It’s a girls’ night together. Stacy and I have been mates since even before I met you – as you well know. Stop sulking and stop calling her PC Plod. It’s not nice of you.’

Craig was clearly unhappy, but Mel wasn’t the kind of person to break arrangements with her friend without good reason and she thought that Craig was becoming a bit of a drama queen.

Continued…….

Melissa and her family

Mel was stirring the contents of a pan, preparing an evening meal when her Mum walked through the door. Jean was not quite as tall as Mel, but they shared the same fair hair – though Jean’s was cut into a smart bob.

‘Hello, Mel love,’ her mum shouted from the hall, ‘Something smells good.’

The Harrington family home was on a small estate of  detached properties in, what estate agents generally called, the desirable residential area of Upperton. The carefully tended front garden and block-paved double driveway added to the house’s desirability. The estate was on a wooded rise above Codmanton. The four bedroomed house had been designed by Brian, Mel’s dad, an architect who had personally overseen every stage of its construction and landscaping. The large rear garden afforded a stunning view of the tops of the dales.

Jean and Brian were of a similar age – Brian was 49 and Jean was two years younger. She was head teacher at the local comprehensive school.

‘It’s only a chicken curry, Mum,’ Mel said, ‘Thawed-out chicken thighs and a jar of Jalfrezi. Will that be enough. There’s a supermarket apple-strudel for afters if you want it.’ With both of her parents working full-time, food that was home cooked from scratch was a luxury reserved for weekends and holidays.

The kitchen had been recently modernised with shiny, black, granite worktops adjoining the walls and on the central island unit, contrasting with white tiled walls and white drawer fronts. Suspended black lights and black and white floor tiles completed the look. This modern kitchen with its futuristic equipment seemed wasted on the basic simplicity of the meal Mel was preparing.

Her mum, hung up her coat, walked across and leaned over Mel’s shoulder to look at the chicken-thighs simmering in the sauce. She kissed her daughter on the cheek and thanked her.

‘Have you had a good day, Mum?’ Mel asked, still stirring.

‘”Good,” is relative in teaching, love. Sixty percent teaching rather than half of my time dealing with bureaucracy would be good in my life. How’s your day been?’

‘You’ll be pleased to know that I now have a full-time job to go to starting next Monday.’ Mel announced.

Jean clapped her hands to her cheeks – her mouth and eyes registering her pleasure and surprise.

‘Turn round while I give you a hug,’ she said, ‘Where? Doing what?’

Mel’s reply was muffled as her face was squeezed into her mum’s cardigan.

‘Tell me again,’ Jean said.

‘I got a job today at Hannay’s camera shop in the Precinct – permanent, full-time and more than minimum wage. Proper sick pay and holidays after a probationary period.’

‘Hannay’s?’ Jean asked, ‘You mean the little camera shop off the high street?’

‘Yes,’ Mel said, ‘on the approach into the precinct.’

‘Mmm,’ Jean said, ‘They used to have a place on the High Street, I’m sure. I hadn’t noticed that they’d moved. Probably the rents and rates for the High Street. Are you sure that’s a good move for you, love? Doesn’t everybody buy that sort of stuff online now?’

‘Yes, Mum,’ Mel said, ‘I do understand your concern, but most photographers want to feel what they’re thinking about buying in their hands – judge the weight, the grip and so on. Even the people who own the shop seem to expect that, with my degree and photography skills, I’ll probably want to move on eventually to make the most of them. I’ve seen inside the shop though, and I’ve met and discussed things with them. They’re lovely people, it’s full-time, reasonably paid for a starter job – and I can see how I’ll be able to learn a lot working there.’

‘All right, Mel, love, I can see you’ve thought about it. Your dad will be over the moon, I’m sure. How did you manage to get an interview?’

Mel explained, and Jean said how impressed she was.

Featured Photo

The photo that I’ve chosen today is the first of a series that I’ll be posting in this part of my daily blog in this part of the page. 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. I’ll start with a shot I took at Burscough Bridge wharf.

The image shows the view along the wharf from under an arch of the road bridge (Burscough Bridge) which passes over 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/10 and 28 mm. The ISO was 100. The shot was handheld.

Regarding Melissa #10

……Previously

‘You’re just jealous because I showed some initiative. Admit it. Some of us have what it takes – don’t I?’

‘Well, it’s easier for a girl to succeed at interview. I bet they saw things your way just looking at your tits and your legs.’

‘Sexist pig,’ she said. She waited because she could hear Craig’s dad talking to him, asking him what job she’d got. He was shouting at Craig telling him that if ‘Dolly Daydream’ could get a job it just showed how useless Craig must be.

Continued……….

When Craig re-joined the conversation, he told her what his dad had said.

‘Oh, I heard, she said, ‘Tell him that I heard him call me Dolly Daydream. I won’t be sending him a birthday card.’

‘Do you think that they’d employ me?’ he asked.

‘I shouldn’t think so, Craig,’ she told him, ‘There was just a note in the window saying that they wanted an assistant. Now they have me that’s probably all they need. It’s only a small shop after all.’

‘When do you start?’ Craig again.

‘Next Monday.’

‘What’s the pay like?’

‘Don’t be nosey. Better than minimum wage anyway. Before you ask, I also get sick pay and four weeks holiday after I’ve been there six-months – if they keep me on after that probationary period.’

‘What about the hours?’

‘Well,’ she hesitated, ‘they’re a bit unusual because it’s a shop.’ She paused again, I have to think how it works. Hold on.’

She rummaged round in her bag for the note she’d scribbled earlier with the details.

‘Right,’ she said, ‘thirty-nine hours a week. I’ll be working Monday through Saturday 8:30 to 4:30 with an hour for lunch and Thursday afternoons off. They’ll give me time-and-a-half for any overtime they ask me to do. Satisfied?’

‘Jesus, Mel,’ he groaned, ‘Saturdays? Really? Do you have to?’

‘Wrong attitude, Craig, for someone who wants a job,’ she said, ‘It’s a shop. People want to buy things at weekends. I’m lucky that they don’t open on Sundays – and it might come to that.’

‘When am I going to get time to see you then?’ he pleaded.

‘Craig,’ she said, ‘I’ll be home before five every day normally and I will have Thursday afternoons off – and all-day Sunday.’

‘Yes,’ he argued, ‘but my job behind the bar is almost always evening work. Can’t you get another type of work?’

‘So, which of us do you think should change their job, Craig?’ she asked. ‘My permanent, full-time, thirty-nine hours with holidays and sick pay or yours with whatever hours they say they need you a couple of nights a week? What do you think? Really?’

‘I know what you mean, Mel, but I am trying.’

‘You’re just going to have to try harder then, Craig. I’m going to be meeting a lot of male customers who have loads of money to spend on cameras. You’re going to have to up your game if you don’t want me to see you as a long-term loser.’

‘Christ, Mel,’ he said, ‘Is that a threat? Surely you’re not that shallow? You know that I’d top myself if I lost you.’

‘It’s not a threat, Craig – and I don’t like emotional blackmail,’ she said, ‘but I do want you to get real. We were never going to be able to afford a place together at the rate you’re going.’

‘Can I see you tonight to talk about things?’ he asked.

‘Sorry, Craig. I’ve promised Stacy that I’ll meet her and we’ll have a drink together to celebrate. I’ll see you tomorrow I’ve had my tea.’

‘You mean that you’re putting PC Plod Stacy Jackson before me – your boyfriend? That’s not very nice. Where are you going with PC Plod? Shall I come and join you?’

‘Not tonight, Craig. It’s a girls’ night together. Stacy and I have been mates since even before I met you. Stop sulking and stop calling her PC Plod. It’s not nice of you.’

Craig was clearly unhappy, but Mel wasn’t the kind of person to break arrangements with her friend without good reason and she thought that Craig was becoming a bit of a drama queen.

Featured Photo

Today’s image is the last of those from the evening of sunset photography on Crosby Beach, Merseyside. Tomorrow, I’ll start a series of shots that I took this week on a canal walk. When I was packing my gear away on Crosby Beach, I noticed the illuminated cranes at the container port in North Bootle. It was getting quite cold and I needed to walk a kilometre or so southwards, but I felt that the effort was worth it for this image along the beach.

I continued to use my Pentax K-1 36 MP full-frame camera and the same Pentax 24-70 mm f/2.8 lens. The EXIF data were: shutter speed 8 seconds @ f/8 and 70 mm. The ISO was 100.

Regarding Melissa #9

…..Previously

The walk around the lake and through woodland offered a variety of viewpoints for photography and Mr Waring coached them in the skills of framing focusing and exposing their shots. He related focusing to ideas he’d explained in class about lenses and optics. The outing was a revelation to Mel. She made her mind up during that outing – she wanted to become a photographer when she left school. On the journey home she plied her teacher with a barrage of questions about careers in photography and qualifications required.

Continued…….

From her time in secondary education and through university Mel had always had male admirers and, occasionally boyfriends. Until Craig, none of these relationships had lasted more than a week or two.

It was after her graduation, that she’d started going out with Craig, who’d read for a modern languages degree.  He wanted to work in the travel industry but, after university, his job applications kept getting turned down and he grew increasingly frustrated. Mel was having no better luck than Craig in finding employment, but she always took her camera with her on their walks and remained resolute in her determination to find a way to pursue her dream career,

The word love was never really mentioned but they enjoyed sex together when opportunity permitted – but because of opposition to their relationship from their parents, opportunities seldom permitted.

Mel’s mum and dad disliked Craig’s general attitude, his appearance, but above all they were concerned by how he spoke to and about Mel even in their presence. They knew not to say too much for fear of driving her further into his  control.

On the other hand, Craig’s dad wasn’t too impressed by Mel. Ken Whittaker, Craig’s dad saw Mel as an ‘airhead’ – pleasant enough, but impractical, having her head in the clouds. He wanted Craig to find a girl who was more ‘down-to-earth’.

 Marriage had not been something either had in mind, though they had talked a few times, in very general terms, about moving in somewhere together when they could afford to pay rent. Mel was becoming increasingly irritated by his attitude lately though and was becoming less and less committed to the idea. Meanwhile, because neither her parents nor his approved of their relationship, there was, in any event, zero chance of them being able to live together in either of the parental homes.

Craig

‘You jammy bitch,’ Craig said, ‘How did you manage that?’

Mel had phoned him with her news as soon as she arrived home.

‘I simply dazzled them with my charm, loser,’ she said

‘What? You just walked into the shop, told them you wanted a job and they said ‘Okay’?’

‘You’re just jealous because I showed some initiative. Admit it. Some of us have what it takes – don’t I?’

‘Well, it’s easier for a girl to succeed at interview. I bet they saw things your way just looking at your tits and your legs.’

‘Sexist pig,’ she said. She waited because she could hear Craig’s dad talking to him, asking him what job she’d got. He was shouting at Craig telling him that if ‘Dolly Daydream’ could get a job it just showed how useless Craig must be.

Featured Photo

Just two more photos from the sunset session at Crosby beach. This first one is a simple landscape shot view of the Sun setting over the Irish Sea wind farm.

Once again, I used my Pentax K-1 camera tripod-mounted and paired with my 24-70 mm f/2.8 lens. The EXIF data are as follows: Shutter speed 3/10 secs @ f/13 and 24 mm. The ISO was 100.

Regarding Melissa #8

………Previously

She couldn’t wait to get home to tell her mum and dad that she had proper job at last. She’d be able to contribute to her keep and she could start reducing her credit card bill. The news would also delight her dad, who never failed, each day, to ask what progress she was making with job-hunting. It wasn’t that he was tight-fisted, but he was concerned that, at her age, she had nothing to show prospective employers that she was worth giving a chance.

Continued……

CHAPTER TWO

Melissa

Mel Harrington had been one of the most popular pupils in her class at the comprehensive academy school. She was outgoing, friendly and usually a happy girl. She was also clever and an able student. Her interest in photography arose from her eagerness to learn.

One February afternoon, in 2005, fifteen years old Mel was sitting in Mr Waring’s physics class when he made an announcement that was to change her life. Towards the close of the lesson he asked the class to read the notice that he was pinning to the room’s noticeboard before they left for the mid-afternoon break between lessons..

Most of her classmates stampeded out into the corridor, but Mel and a couple of others, gathered around to see what the notice was about. There was to be an after-school meeting of the Science Club on the Thursday afternoon – two days away. Mr Waring would be doing an illustrated talk about Light and Photography. Mel had a bit of a crush on Mr Waring, so she decided to attend.

At the meeting, he began by talking about the movement of the Sun and how the angle at which it’s light passes through the Earth’s atmosphere leads to refraction. He went on to explain how morning light is usually bluer in tone than evening light. He spoke of golden hours and blue hours and the relative softness of light at those hours compared with harsh mid-day light and its hard shadows. He explained how photographers used these changes in light to create moods. The photographs he showed to illustrate his talk fascinated Mel. She asked a lot of questions afterwards.

The teacher, recognising the genuine interest of Mel and a couple of other pupils, prompted him to invite up to three of them to join him on a trip to the Lake District during the mid-term holiday. He had to visit the place that would be providing accommodation for the school’s Easter adventure trip. He told them to bring a camera – if they had one – to learn about using both light and composition to get better photos. Mel was the first to volunteer. Mel’s dad lent her one of his cameras after spending an entire Saturday afternoon showing her how to use it. He made her promise to look after it because it was one that he used for his job.

There were just two of the pupils with Mr Waring on the outing, Mel and her friend Stacy. They arrived at their destination mid-morning on that bright but cold February Saturday. The girls went with him to the Centre, but once the teacher had confirmed the arrangements and checked the accommodation, he drove them to the Tarn Hows National Trust car park.

The walk around the lake and through woodland offered a variety of viewpoints for photography and Mr Waring coached them in the skills of framing focusing and exposing their shots. He related focusing to ideas he’d explained in class about lenses and optics. The outing was a revelation to Mel. She made her mind up during that outing – she wanted to become a photographer when she left school. On the journey home she plied her teacher with a barrage of questions about careers in photography and qualifications required.

Featured Photo

I’ll stick with the Crosby beach set of photos for a couple more days. In this third of Anthony Gormley’s Iron Men statue series, the shot is more of a close-up – I used a longer focal length – and the Sun has almost completely set. The damage of time and the sea can be seen in terms of the roughness of the statue’s surface. Close to where the Sun is shown, you may see a second Iron Man in the distance.

For this photo, I used my 36 MP full-frame Pentax K-1 again with a Pentax 24-70 mm f/2.8 full-frame lens at 70 mm and f/8. The shutter speed was 1/8 secs and the ISO was 100. The camera was tripod mounted.

Regarding Melissa #7

…………Previously

Tony asked what she’d been doing during the three years since leaving university.

‘I haven’t actually had a full-time job since then,’ she admitted. ‘I spent nine months or so job-hunting without success then I decided to travel  – backpacking with a friend.’

‘Right,’ said Jamie, ‘Tell us about that.’

Continued……….

Mel told how, after a week in Singapore, they’d moved on to New Zealand for more than a year and then to Australia. She described how they’d lived in hostels and paid for their stay by helping out at the hostels and working in bars. She said how she’d have loved to get a permanent place there, but she didn’t fulfil the immigration requirements. Tony asked whether she’d been able to take many photographs while she’d been away, and she said she’d taken several media cards full that he’d be welcome to look at.

She concluded by saying how working in a camera shop was the closest fit to what she wanted that she’d encountered.

‘I’m sorry, but I can’t honestly say that it would have been my first choice,’ she admitted.

Jamie and Tony looked at each other and laughed.

Mel pushed her chin forward and her lips moved up to cover her teeth. Her brow furrowed as she looked from one of them to the other, expecting them to tell her that she was not what they were looking for.

‘Listen, Melissa,’ Tony said, ‘if working here would be the first career choice for someone with your qualifications and experience, I’d be amazed. Look, I’d love to offer you the job – I’m sure that Jamie will agree with me.’ He looked at his son for confirmation. Jamie nodded, laughing.

‘Before we start talking about things like pay and conditions, let me say that, if you do take the job, we won’t be upset if you later find a job-opportunity that better meets your hopes. We will, however, try to give you every chance to learn what we do and to enjoy working with us as a member of our little family business.

Tony then explained that the vacancy had come about because Lucy, his wife, had agreed to help look after her Elaine, her infant granddaughter – the child of Jamie’s younger sister, Tracy, who would shortly be returning to work full-time after her maternity leave. Much of the time, Lucy’s mum and dad would be sharing the baby-sitting. Tony’s parents had also offered. Lucy didn’t want to put either set of grandparents to a lot of trouble though. They were all of them in their seventies and needed to have time to enjoy their retirement.

Tony went on to say that the starting pay would be a bit higher than the statutory minimum wage level because they’d want her to arrive half-an-hour before the shop’s opening time each morning to help process any overnight stock deliveries.

The ‘I’s were dotted and the ‘T’s crossed and Mel, having accepted the job offer, had agreed to start in her new post the following Monday. Before she left, Jamie asked her if she’d like to have a look round to see what they did. She immediately agreed that she’d like to do that.

He started by introducing Mel properly, and as their new employee, to his mum, Lucy. Mel was surprised to see that, in addition to conventional cameras, they sold some high-end unlocked smartphones and offered some interesting photo-tours – often to promote key camera brands. Jamie told her not to worry over the weekend about starting her new job, because her first few weeks would be regarded as training.

She couldn’t wait to get home to tell her mum and dad that she had proper job at last. She’d be able to contribute to her keep and she could start reducing her credit card bill. The news would also delight her dad, who never failed, each day to ask what progress she was making with job-hunting. It wasn’t that he was tight-fisted, but he was concerned that, at her age, she had nothing to show prospective employers that she was worth giving a chance.

Featured Photo

I’m on a roll now with those photos from Crosby Beach, so here’s number three. I hope you like it. Like the first two, I took it using my 36 MP Pentax K-1 full-frame camera paired with a 24-70 mm f/2.8 lens. I liked the ripples in the beach where the tide had only recently retreated and the evening Sun retreating behind the Irish Sea wind farm.

The EXIF data are as follows: Shutter speed 1/10 secs @ f/10 and 24 mm. The ISO was 100. The shot was tripod mounted.