Writing and Photography

Regarding Melissa #31

…..Previously

Lucy came across.

‘You’re trembling, love,’ she said, ‘Go in the back room. Sit down for a few minutes until you feel better. I’ll make you a cup of tea. We’re not busy.’

Mel told her that she’d be fine in a minute and thanked her and Jamie for their thoughtfulness. As she’d promised, Mel was soon back to her normal self, but she’d decided to tell Jack what had happened anyway – and Stacy.

Continued…..

CHAPTER SEVEN

May, 2015

An evening presentation

One Monday, not long after Jamie had mentioned the evening presentations to her, he repeated his suggestion to Mel about her coming to an evening presentation to new customers. He told her that the next one would be on the Thursday evening and asked whether she’d be free to attend as an observer. She promised that she would be and that she looked forward to coming.

He showed her a poster about the evening and asked her to put a copy in the window, a copy behind the counter and one on a side wall. He explained that Tony had already sent out invitations to those customers most likely to benefit. She asked whether there was a dress code and he reassured her that she should just come casually dressed – in any case, she was there to observe since it was her first such event.

On the evening, she turned up in a Sarah Lund style Faroese pullover with blue denim bootleg jeans and trainers. Jamie asked her whether she’d mind showing customers upstairs to the gallery. He and Tony had rearranged the furniture and displays and had set out some stackable chairs from the second floor. A projection screen was suspended from the ceiling at the back of the room.

Only nine customers came – Jamie said that was actually a good turnout. Mel showed them to the room and then, when Jamie asked her, she locked the shop door and joined the customers. She chose a seat at the back so that she could both observe what was done and how the audience reacted.

Tony and Jamie had set up two laptops on the table at the front where they sat facing the audience. Tony stood to deliver a short introduction to the evening, thanking those who were there for their attendance. Jamie then took over and asked Mel to turn out the room lights, leaving only the light from the laptop screens and the suspended screen onto which an image of Jamie’s laptop screen was projected. It took Mel a moment or two to work out how this had been done, but, when she looked up, she noticed for the first time that there was a projector fixed to the ceiling above her, facing the screen.

Jamie’s subject was the various settings options on one of the current mirrorless cameras – all the customers present were ones who had bought that model. She realised that there were features that even she had not known about and Jamie explained how to use them by displaying images of the camera, of the menu screens and of the typical effects of using each feature. She was glad that she’d come.

Afterwards, when the last customer had left the shop, Tony asked her for her reactions. She told him that she had learned a lot, and that if she were to present any of those evenings herself, she’d need to do a lot of  preparation to ensure that she was up-to-speed on things like settings. She asked Tony if he could show her how to prepare the PowerPoint screens that Jamie had used and how to use the laptop to control the presentation. Tony said that he’d be pleased to do that himself, since he couldn’t spare both her and Jamie off the shopfloor at the same time.

He arranged a time with her for the Tuesday of the following week.

Featured Photo

The photo that I’ve chosen today is the fourth of this series of nine that I’ll be posting in the next few days. There won’t be 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. Today’s image is the final one from the beach, another showing the Sun a little lower in the sky, though it’s sunk behind the building on the pier. The autogyro is back and a couple of people are walking along the pier.

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 1/500 secs @ f/8 and 48 mm.

Regarding Melissa #30

…..Previously

Mel told Lucy that, since leaving university, she’d often submitted photos and articles to several photography print magazines. A few had been accepted and she’d earned fees for those that were published. She’d also won some local contests and had those photos displayed in the local Museum. One of her hopes was that, one day, she’d be able to get offered a chance to mount an exhibition.

‘There’ll be no holding you back then, Mel,’ Lucy said, ‘You won’t want to work here when you’re famous.’

‘Lucy, fame doesn’t pay bills. I can’t live with mum and dad forever. Even if I were to win a few major awards – unlikely, I know – it wouldn’t provide the security of a regular salary. This job will enable me to keep my feet on the ground if you can excuse me asking for a day off work every now and then. It would always bring publicity for the shop too, you know.’

‘Well, this only your third day, love. Let’s see how you get on once you’ve worked here a bit longer.’

Continued…..

During a mid-morning gap in business, Jamie said that he was made-up that she’d come in that morning and asked her if she was okay after their discussion. She said that she was fine. Reassured, he told her about evening presentations that the shop occasionally offered new customers – usually customers who were quite new to modern cameras. These evenings – free of charge – were used to help those customers to get to know their new cameras better so that they’d get the most value from them. He asked Mel would she like to attend one – initially to become familiar with the format of the meetings, but eventually to do the presentation herself.

He explained that she’d be paid overtime and that there was no compulsion. Mel quickly realised that this would be a great opportunity for her personal career development and she agreed readily. He told her that they sometimes hosted presentations for regular customers – these were presented by people like ‘brand managers’ to promote new product lines. Again, there was no pressure, but Mel would be welcome to come to any that she might be interested in to boost her own product knowledge. From what Jamie said, it was clear that it would be stupid of her not to take advantage of such chances.

It didn’t take many weeks after that for Mel to become totally settled in her new job. The shop became like a second home and the Hannays like a second family. Her confidence was at an all-time high. There had only been one unsettling incident.

A blast from the past

One morning, a few weeks later, as she’d been just finishing  a conversation with a customer, Mel heard the doormat alarm sound. She glanced towards the door and, out of the corner of her eye, she saw Craig entering the shop. She felt bile rise in her throat and her whole body seemed to tingle with alarm.

“Oh, God!” she thought, “What does Craig want?”

Her attention was split two ways. She didn’t want the customer to feel that she wasn’t giving him her full attention but she was worried sick that Craig had come to start trouble.

Although she was facing away from him, she could see Craig’s reflection over the customer’s shoulder in her peripheral vision. Jamie had approached him, but Craig had shaken his head and walked towards a carousel display of accessories.

The customer left, waving Mel goodbye, only a few minutes later. Mel walked straight to the counter and, turning her back to Craig, told Lucy, in a whisper, who Craig was. She said that she’d try to get rid of him as discreetly as she could but said that she was worried he might try to cause trouble.

Lucy assured her that she was not to worry. She said that she would alert Jamie to be ready to deal with any trouble.

As Mel walked towards him, Craig turned to her and smiled.

‘So this is where you work? See, I’m taking an interest.’

‘Please take your interest somewhere else, Craig. I’m working. I don’t know why you’re here but this is neither the time nor the place.’

Craig reached for her arm, but Mel pulled it out of his reach.

‘Just go, Craig.’

Again he tried to grab her arm, but this time, Jamie was by her side.

‘Is everything all right, Miss Harrington?’ he asked. Jamie was at least two inches taller than Craig, and although Jamie’s mouth was smiling at Craig as he spoke to Mel, his eyes were icy cold.  Craig shifted uneasily in his feet. He looked from Mel to Jamie and seemed to realise that he wasn’t going to gain anything by staying, so he turned and left. His attempt to slam the shop door behind him failed because of the device on the door that curtailed its acceleration.

‘Jamie,’ she said, ‘thank you so much. Did your mum explain?’

‘Yes, she did, and he did look as if he was about to start a scene,’ Jamie said, ‘You did the right thing to warn us.’

‘I’m so sorry.’ she said, ‘I didn’t want my private life being brought inside the shop and upsetting either you or our customers.’

‘I can see that,’ Jamie assured her, ‘Don’t worry about it. It wasn’t your fault. Is he likely to bother you when you finish here? Do you want a lift home?’

She smiled at him.

‘Thanks, Jamie,’ she said, ‘but I’ll be all right. I have a friend in the police who is aware of the situation – and Jack, my brother is a hulking great prop-forward.‘

‘Really?’ he asked, ‘Who does he play for?’

She named the local rugby league team and Jamie said that he’d heard a lot about him – all good.

Lucy came across.

‘You’re trembling, love,’ she said, ‘Go in the back room. Sit down for a few minutes until you feel better. I’ll make you a cup of tea. We’re not busy.’

Mel told her that she’d be fine in a minute and thanked her and Jamie for their thoughtfulness. As she’d promised, Mel was soon back to her normal self, but she’d decided to tell Jack what had happened anyway – and Stacy.

Featured Photo

The photo that I’ve chosen today is the fourth of this series of nine that I’ll be posting in the next few days. There won’t be 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. Today’s image is one that I’d forgotten about – again from the beach, showing the Sun a little lower in the sky, with a sunburst effect.

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 1/20 secs @ f/16 and 33 mm.

Regarding Melissa #29

…..Previously

He was confused.

He understood that it was wrong to stalk women, to rape them, not to accept No for a final answer. Things like that weren’t just illegal, they were plain wrong. Men usually had too great a physical advantage over women otherwise.

“But I hadn’t, wouldn’t have done any of those things,” he argued to himself.

He didn’t want her to pack in her job over what had happened, but he recognised that he should make it clear that he understood that their relationship was simply as colleagues and that he’d be keeping his mind strictly on business from now on – if she turned in for work.

Even as he sat there, he still squirmed with embarrassment.

He didn’t have a clue what to do – how to atone for what she’d seen; what he’d actually say to her when – if – she turned up for work the next day. Perhaps he should say nothing – hope that it had blown over. On the other hand, he needed to check that she was okay. He’d better play it by ear. He just hoped that she could forgive him. He’d never forgive himself if she were to decide to find another job.

Continued…..

A report to Stacy.

That same night, when she got home from the park, Mel phoned Stacy for an update. Stacy asked Mel how she was, and then told her that she’d started seeing someone regularly – a bloke named Connor who she worked with. Mel asked for further details, but Stacy told her that she’d have to wait. She’d introduce him as soon as an opportunity arose.

‘How about you?’ Stacy asked.

Mel told her firstly about why and how she’d dumped Craig. Stacy was really pleased and told Mel that it was about time.

Then Mel told her about her conversation with Jamie, beginning with what had happened in the shop leading up to it.

 Stacy hooted with laughter. ‘I can’t believe that you said all that to him,’

‘You should have seen his face,’ Mel said.

‘Oh!’ Stacy said, wiping her eyes, ‘I’d love to have been a fly on the wall to see that. You’ve surprised me though. That doesn’t sound like the shy Jamie I remember. Is he really coming across as an out-and-out creep then, leering at you all the time?’

‘God, no!’ Mel said, ‘He’s really very nice, but seeing that hard-on worried me, and I thought that he should know the score with me.’

‘And is he then?’ Stacy asked laughing, ‘likely to score?’

‘Wait and see,’ Mel said, also laughing, ‘You’ll have to wait. Anyway, it was you who told me that you used to fancy him yourself.’

CHAPTER SIX

The camera shop – Day three and progress

‘Are you all right, Mel? You look a bit peaky.’ Lucy asked. She looked concerned.

‘Sorry, Lucy,’ Mel replied. ‘I dumped my boyfriend last night after a row and didn’t sleep very well. I’ll cheer up – I promise. I won’t let it interfere with my work.’

‘I’m sure you won’t, love. I do understand. From what you told me of him, he didn’t deserve you. Now, we all go through moments like this – but we get over them. Do you want to talk about it?’

‘That’s lovely of you, Lucy – but no. If I get time, I’d like to ask Jamie a couple of questions about mirrorless cameras.’

‘Well listen. Before you go back to Jamie, while we’ve got a couple of minutes, can I ask you a couple of questions?’

Mel, wondering what was going to be asked, nevertheless agreed immediately.

‘Tony brought your portfolio home last night – you can take it home again tonight. We were all very impressed with the quality of your body of work. Outstanding, Mel. There were a couple in particular that I’d like to ask you about if you don’t mind.’

She led Mel back to the counter and pulled the portfolio out from below  it. They spent about five minutes talking about the selected photos. From what Lucy said, Tony was going to approach her about displaying a couple of the images in the shop’s gallery. According to Lucy, Tony would want to discuss the possibility of selling some numbered, copies through the gallery if Mel were agreeable. Lucy asked Mel to take some time to think about it before Tony asked.

Mel was overcome. She really appreciated the opportunity. She said that, for her as a photographer, having your work chosen to be displayed in an exhibition was a large part of what it was all about.

Mel told Lucy that, since leaving university, she’d often submitted photos and articles to several photography print magazines. A few had been accepted and she’d earned fees for those that had been published. She’d also won some local contests and had those photos displayed in the local Museum. One of her hopes was that, one day, she’d be able to get offered a chance to mount an exhibition.

‘There’ll be no holding you back then, Mel,’ Lucy said, ‘You won’t want to work here when you’re famous.’

‘Lucy, fame doesn’t pay bills. I can’t live with mum and dad forever. Even if I were to win a few major awards – unlikely, I know – it wouldn’t provide the security of a regular salary. This job will enable me to keep my feet on the ground – if you can excuse me asking for a day off work every now and then. It would always bring publicity for the shop too, you know.’

‘Well, this only your third day, love. Let’s see how you get on once you’ve worked here a bit longer.’

Featured Photo

The photo that I’ve chosen today is the fourth of this series of nine that I’ll be posting in the next few days. There won’t be 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. Today’s image shows the Sun a little lower in the sky, and an autogyro or powered paraglider can be seen.

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 1/80 secs @ f/16 and 31 mm.

Regarding Melissa #28

…..Previously

‘So, will you be coming in to work tomorrow?’ he asked.

‘You’ve heard what I have to say,’ she said, ‘Can you accept the conditions on which we’ll still be able to work together? No more embarrassing customers?’

He nodded.

She touched his hand.

‘Thanks for listening,’ she said, ‘I had to get that off my chest. You made it a lot easier than it could have been. I do like working with you, you know. I’ll see you tomorrow.’

She left him. He sat there, looking into his empty cup.

Continued…..

Thoughts when alone in the park

He sat there for ages, until the woman who’d been serving behind the counter came  to collect his cup, clean the table and remind him that she had to close up.

She stood there for a moment, the back of her hands on her hips, one hand holding the cleaning cloth.

‘Lovers’ tiff?’ she said, ‘She didn’t look very happy with you.’

‘Thanks for pointing that out,’ he said, then, realised that it hadn’t been the woman’s fault.

‘Sorry,’ he said, ‘I’m not in the best of moods myself at the moment. ‘I’m sorry if I’ve kept you waiting.’

When he stood to leave, he realised how dark it was now outside. Mentally, he kicked himself. He’d let Mel walk through the park alone in the darkness.

“Idiot!” he said to himself.

He didn’t want to drive home just yet. He needed to gather his thoughts. He couldn’t stop thinking about the things that had been said. He felt sick. He walked across to a nearby park bench and sat down.

“Shit! Shit! Shit!” he thought. She’d seen his erection. He felt disgusted with himself and totally embarrassed. “But it wasn’t as if  I could have helped it,” he tried to console himself. He thought back.

He’d been supposed to be checking the display of tripods and related accessories on a carousel, but he’d glanced up and seen her talking to a customer. She was nodding and smiling, pointing out features of the smartphone she was holding. Mel’s eyes were shining; her hair was backlit by sunlight streaming through the shop window; her pink, full, cupid’s bow lips were parted, revealing her small, white even teeth. One of her lower legs was crossed loosely behind the other. Her open necked blouse was unbuttoned low enough and positioned to reveal a little cleavage. She looked absolutely amazing: sexy and amazing.

He remembered thinking that, and that’s when it had happened. He’d been barely conscious of his erection when he saw the customer nodding her head to Mel in his direction. Mel had barely glanced towards him but the two women were trying in vain to suppress their giggles.

It had been a moment of stupidity when he should have been concentrating on what he’d been supposed to be doing. And now Mel was considering quitting her job. He’d liked to have been able to have dumped the blame on her half-witted ex-boyfriend, who’d undermined her happiness in getting the job by his comments about why she’d succeeded. But she was right – he was no better than many other men, driven by primal instincts. How else was she to interpret what she’d seen that morning? Why should she trust him?

“Then again,” he thought, “Wasn’t she over-reacting? How serious had the incident in the shop really been? Okay, he hadn’t been concentrating – but what was that to her? She was a trainee not his supervisor. Yes, he’d been looking at her and had thought that she looked sexy. Since when was that a crime? His body had responded to what he’d thought in his mind. How was he supposed to have prevented it? She’d called him a Neanderthal – but if it was natural for men and women to want to mate, wasn’t it normal and healthy to seek sexual partners and for their bodies to provide clues?”

He was confused.

He understood that it was wrong to stalk women, to rape them, not to accept No for a final answer. Things like that weren’t just illegal, they were plain wrong. Men usually had too great a physical advantage over women otherwise.

“But I hadn’t, wouldn’t have done any of those things,” he argued to himself.

He didn’t want her to pack in her job over what had happened, but he recognised that he should make it clear that he understood that their relationship was simply as colleagues and that he’d be keeping his mind strictly on business from now on – if she turned in for work.

Even as he sat there, he still squirmed with embarrassment.

He didn’t have a clue what to do – how to atone for what she’d seen; what he’d actually say to her when – if – she turned up for work the next day. Perhaps he should say nothing – hope that it had blown over. On the other hand, he needed to check that she was okay. He’d better play it by ear. He just hoped that she could forgive him. He’d never forgive himself if she were to decide to find another job.

Featured Photo

The photo that I’ve chosen today is the third of this series of nine that I’ll be posting in the next few days. There won’t be 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 two 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. Today’s image is one of those that’s different – looking at the pier from the roadway and across the beach. The shot shows the glow of the setting Sun lighting up the side of the pier and the high cloud starting to form..

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 3/5 secs @ f/16 and 48 mm.

Regarding Melissa #27

…..Previously

‘The way you looked at me this morning suggests that you were feeling horny.’

‘It was subconscious,’ he said, ‘I didn’t deliberately set out to see you in a sexual way, but you did – look sexy. I think that they call it the autonomic nervous system reaction – an instinct that bypasses the brain – like feeling you want to punch someone.’

‘You’re quite a caveman, Jamie aren’t you,’ she said, ‘An unconstructed neanderthal beneath those designer chinos.’

‘Oh, God!’ he said, ‘Foot-in-mouth time!’

Continued…..

‘Let me tell you what I’ve been thinking,’ she said, ‘but first of all, another question. Who’s my boss – Tony, you or Lucy?’

‘Tony,’ he answered without hesitation.

‘So, what’s your role in relation to me? And why were you one of the interviewers?’

‘I’m just another colleague,’ he answered, ‘For the time being I’ve been asked to help you to settle in, and I was interviewing with Tony because he asked me to. He felt that, since we’d be working together, I should have a chance to see whether you’d be someone that I’d want to work with.’

He paused.

‘Listen, Mel,’ he said, ‘If push comes to shove, once you’ve found your way around the stuff we sell, with your skills and personality, you’ll probably be more valuable to the shop than I am. That’s God’s honest truth.’

‘I’m not sure that we can still work together if you’re going to get a stiffy every time you look at me,’ she said.

He put his head in his hands, then bent and banged his forehead against the table.

‘It’s a fair point,’ she insisted, ‘I’m used to men fancying me – that’s not being big headed. They ask me to go out with them – it usually seems that all they really want is a chance to fuck me. Then they want to leave it at that. I’m just someone to feel and fuck. A pair of breasts and a vagina.’

She could see him squirming with embarrassment at the way the conversation was going.

‘Suppose you  were to ask me to go out with you, and that we fucked. How would that relationship play out on the shopfloor? Would you be getting horny all the time and wanting to flip the Open sign to Closed?’

She waited, but he was lost for words, aware that he could provoke another accusation of being a sexist pig.

‘The next stage would usually be me losing my job because you were fed up with me and couldn’t deal with having to work with me,’ she said, ‘You’re family -I’m just a wage slave. Our relationship couldn’t be one of equals, could it?’

‘So, what are you saying?’ he asked, ‘that based on a hypothetical set of assumptions about my societal conditioning, you want to hand in your notice?’

‘I have to consider my future, Jamie,’ she said, ‘and I won’t always be fanciable.’

‘Jesus, Mel!’ he said, ‘I don’t know what to say to reassure you. I’ll be honest with you. Yes you are “fanciable” as you put it. You are unquestionably beautiful. It would be a real privilege for me if we were ever to start being in a relationship together. I adore everything about you. But I don’t think that I’d ever have asked you, because I can’t believe that you’d ever agree.’

She saw the hurt in his eyes.

‘Jamie,’ she said, ‘You’re putting me on a pedestal. That’s an uncomfortable place to be. People fall off pedestals and get hurt. Listen, don’t run yourself down. You’re fanciable too. If you weren’t my boss – sort of – and we were in a more equal relationship, I’d have snatched your arm off if you’d asked me. You’re a million times more my type than the gorillas I’ve been out with before.’

‘So, will you be coming in to work tomorrow?’ he asked.

‘You’ve heard what I have to say,’ she said, ‘Can you accept the conditions on which we’ll still be able to work together? No more embarrassing customers?’

He nodded.

She touched his hand.

‘Thanks for listening,’ she said, ‘I had to get that off my chest. You made it a lot easier than it could have been. I do like working with you, you know. I’ll see you tomorrow.’

She left him. He sat there, looking into his empty cup.

Featured Photo

The photo that I’ve chosen today is the second of the series of nine that I’ll be posting in the next few days. There won’t be 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 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 1/800 secs @ f/8 and 24 mm.

Regarding Melissa #26

…..Previously

‘Really, Craig. What did I tell you about my first day then?’

‘Oh, I can’t remember exactly. I’ve been busy myself since then.’

‘Craig, you’re a liar. You didn’t ask me – and don’t start accusing me again of not listening. I listened above all for you to show an interest. Everybody else I’ve spoken to since has wanted to know how I went on. You’re a self-centred bastard and I don’t intend wasting any more of my time on you. You’re dumped.’

As she closed the call she heard him saying, ‘Bitch.’

Continued…..

A meeting in the Park

Jamie was already there when Mel arrived. He was sat with a cup of coffee at the round table for two in front of him. He asked what she’d like to drink, but she said that she’d get her own.

The park was on the Upperton edge of town, so it wasn’t far from where either of them lived and it was a popular meeting place for dog-walkers. The place was a franchise place leased by the town council. Hot food, sandwiches, cakes and ice-creams were available at the self-service counter in addition to both hot and cold drinks. There were tables and seating facilities inside and on a sheltered patio outside. Mel and Jamie sat inside. Even with her puffer jacket, it was too cold outside for comfort.

‘Okay,’ Jamie said, ‘You requested the meeting. What would you like to know?’

‘Let me get straight to the point,’ she said, ‘I’ll quote verbatim something my ex-boyfriend said to me when I told him about the interview and me getting the job.’

She looked at him. Her face gave nothing away.

‘Here goes,’ she said, ‘As I said, this is word-for-word, “‘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.”.’

‘Is that what you’re wondering?’ he asked.

‘I think that you may have noticed this morning, Jamie, that a customer and I were giggling together. She was looking at smartphones – she’d dropped and broken her old one.’

‘And?’ he asked.

‘What gave rise to the giggles was you, looking at me. You had a very obvious erection tenting your trousers. She told me that you obviously thought that you were on a promise for tonight.’

Jamie blushed. He remembered the incident.

‘Christ!’ he said, ‘Well it disappeared bloody quickly. Nothing castrates a bloke faster than seeing two women looking at him and giggling.’

‘This isn’t about you feeling got at, Jamie,’ she said, ‘When I thought about it afterwards, what Craig said came back to me. So, was it my “tits and legs” that got me the job? If it was, I won’t be coming into work tomorrow.’

‘Shit!’ he said, ‘No, it wasn’t. ‘You got the job on merit – pure and simple. I told you on your first day. We’ve never had anyone wanting to work for us before who actually knew one end of a camera from another. You do – in spades. And you have a really nice personality rather than some of the sullen faces that the Job Centre sends us.’

‘Okay, she said, ‘Fair enough, but I had to ask. I’ve noticed men looking at me like that before – but not anyone I’ve ever worked for. However’, she continued, ‘that leads us on to my next question.’

‘Fire away,’ he said.

‘The way you looked at me this morning suggests that you were feeling horny.’

‘It was subconscious,’ he said, ‘I didn’t deliberately set out to see you in a sexual way, but you did – look sexy. I think that they call it the autonomic nervous system reaction – an instinct that bypasses the brain – like feeling you want to punch someone.’

‘You’re quite a caveman, Jamie aren’t you,’ she said, ‘An unconstructed neanderthal beneath those designer chinos.’

‘Oh, God!’ he said, ‘Foot-in-mouth time!’

Featured Photo

The photo that I’ve chosen today is the first of the series of nine that I’ll be posting in the next few days.

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 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 1/400 secs @ f/8 and 24 mm.

Regarding Melissa #25

…..Previously

Before it was time for Mel to finish work for the day, she took Jamie to one side.

‘Listen, Jamie, could you and me have a natter after work tonight? If we’re going to be working together it would help me if I got to know you a bit better. Did you have other plans?’

He said that he hadn’t.

‘What about that café in the park. We could have a cup of tea or coffee together?’

‘What time?’ he asked.

‘About seven-thirty suit you?’ she asked.

‘See you there then,’ he said, mystified as to what had brought on her suggestion.

By the time the shop closed, Mel’s head was buzzing and she felt tired – much more so than the previous day.

Continued…..

An unwelcome call

After their evening meal, during which Mel had been quizzed about what she’d been learning and how she was getting on with the Hannays, Mel went up to her room to do some online research about mirrorless cameras before she went to her meeting with Jamie.

She was skimming through a review, comparing the autofocus improvements available from their use, when Craig phoned. She debated with herself whether to accept the call, but remembered that it had been her suggestion for him to phone her.

‘Are you in a better mood tonight?’ That was Craig’s opening gambit. Mel ended the call without speaking.

He phoned straight back.

‘Did you just put the phone down on me?’ he demanded.

‘Did you just try to make me feel guilty about the other night?’ she answered.

‘Okay, don’t get your knickers in a twist. Are you coming out tonight or not?’

‘I’m sorry about the other night, Mel,’ she mimicked,  ‘How was your first day at work, Mel? Did you enjoy it, Mel? Were the people nice to you, Mel? Listen Craig, if you thought anything about me, those are the things you should have been asking me about – showing an interest in me for a change.’

‘I asked you the other night, I’m sure.’

‘Really, Craig. What did I tell you about my first day then?’

‘Oh, I can’t remember exactly. I’ve been busy myself since then.’

‘Craig, you’re a liar. You didn’t ask me – and don’t start accusing me again of not listening. I listened above all for you to show an interest. Everybody else I’ve spoken to since has wanted to know how I went on. You’re a self-centred bastard and I don’t intend wasting any more of my time on you. You’re dumped.’

As she closed the call she heard him saying, ‘Bitch.’

Featured Photo

The photo that I’ve chosen today is the final one 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.

The remaining photo in this series will be of a young woman looking at her smartphone, standing on the Wharf but on the other side of the canal from where I was stood in the Library car park. 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 1/40 secs @ f/10 and 53 mm. The ISO was 100. The shot was handheld and used only natural light. When I post-processed the shot in Lightroom, I decided to convert it to monochrome from colour, because it seemed the better option.

For my next series of shots, I’ll use some photos that I took in Southport, Merseyside recently where I’d gone to photograph the sunset.

Regarding Melissa #24

…..Previously

Jamie agreed and gave his reasons at length.

‘From what I saw today, Dad, Mel is red-hot on technique. It’s product knowledge that she needs to brush up on. As you’d expect, most of what she did at university was done using film cameras. She completely understands the differences between film and dslr cameras, but she really knows next to nothing about the new breed of mirrorless cameras that have been emerging since she graduated in 2012. On the other hand, she can handle a smartphone camera as well as any pro. She’ll have no difficulty advising customers how to choose once she’s up to date.’

‘Another thing that I noticed’ he said, ‘was how well she related to the few customers who were in today. She doesn’t try to baffle people with science. She’s amazing at crushing jargon into everyday terms.’

Overall, they all agreed that it had been a promising start and that Mel was a delight to work with.

Continued…..

CHAPTER FIVE

Day two in the shop

Once again Mel was early and, once inside, was able straightaway to start helping Jamie. He took some of the new stock from the back of the shop and showed her the way to price-up and label display stock, and how to interpret the details included in the product labelling

There weren’t many customers for the first few hours, so Jamie spent some time with Mel talking about market trends and about the relative merits of the new mirrorless cameras compared against more traditional digital cameras. He took a display model to demonstrate the electronic viewfinder, the tiltable rear screen and the fast autofocus, but told her also about the shorter battery life and the still-developing market in lenses dedicated to mirrorless technology.

While Jamie broke off to talk to a customer, Lucy called Mel over to ask if she’d recovered from her first day in the shop.

‘Do you think that you’ll like working here?’ she continued.

Mel told her that she’d found it really interesting and was looking forward to some hands-on experience of using the different types, makes and models of kit, so as to become familiar with the various menu systems and controls. That would help a lot ready for when she needed to answer customers’ questions about them.

‘What about your boyfriend?’ Lucy asked, ‘Did you say his name was Craig? What does he think about you having a full-time job?’

‘Craig’s not happy about my hours,’ she replied, ‘but I’ve made it clear to him that he’ll have to get used to it. This is my opportunity for a new start.’

By mid-morning, as footfall increased, Jamie assigned Mel to working solo with some of the customers who came in. Whenever she encountered a totally unfamiliar situation, such as the difference between two high-end cameras, she passed the customer to Jamie.

In the afternoon, Jamie asked Mel to work with Lucy behind the counter. The two women bonded quickly, exchanging banter as they worked. The most difficult part for Mel was the additional information required for receipting transactions such as camera and lens purchases. Although Mel was familiar with using the pub’s till, this was different by an order of magnitude.

Because the receipt might later be needed for a range of purposes – from insurance to future trade-in – receipting was slower in order to record things like the customer’s name, address and postcode, but also the serial number of each item. The till automatically picked-up  other item details such as the make and model from the label.  Similarly, the till picked -up special-offers automatically. When  customers traded-in their own equipment as part-exchange, Mel would need to  include the type, make, model, serial number and the value allowed. Simple processing of amounts received – as a deposits or full-payments – was familiar to Mel – including procedures for both cash and card transactions.

Lucy talked Mel through security procedures including transactions where the card was declined or where Mel suspected any other type of fraud.

Before it was time for Mel to finish work for the day, she took Jamie to one side.

‘Listen, Jamie, could you and me have a natter after work tonight? If we’re going to be working together it would help me if I got to know you a bit better. Did you have other plans?’

He said that he hadn’t.

‘What about that café in the park. We could have a cup of tea or coffee together?’

‘What time?’ he asked.

‘About seven-thirty suit you?’ she asked.

‘See you there then,’ he said, mystified as to what had brought on her suggestion.

By the time the shop closed, Mel’s head was buzzing and she felt tired – much more so than the previous day.

Featured Photo

The photo that I’ve chosen today is the tenth 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.

The remaining couple of photos in this series will be of people whom I saw as I walked along the canal path. Today’s image is of a man who lives aboard a narrowboat. I asked him whether he’d mind me taking his photo and he seemed happy to oblige. We spent several minutes chatting. 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/8 and 28 mm. The ISO was 100. The shot was handheld and used only natural light. When I post-processed the shot in Lightroom, I decided to convert it to monochrome from colour, because it seemed the better option.

Regarding Melissa #23

…..Previously

During the meal, Tony wondered aloud, whether Mel might be related to Brian Harrington, one of the shop’s regular clients, whom they knew lived in that area.. Slightly older than the Harringtons, the senior Hannays were both in their early fifties, while Jamie was twenty-six – eighteen months older than his sister Tracy. It was Tracy – who’d got married soon after university – whose recently born baby, Elaine, would be looked after by Lucy and by her grandparents on both sides. Tracy lived with her partner, Jake, and their child on an estate on the other side of the town overlooking a lake. Jake was a paramedic and Tracy would shortly be returning to work as a nurse at the local hospital.

Continued…..

Tony and Lucy were making suggestions to Jamie regarding Mel’s continuing development for the following day. Jamie wanted to see how she handled customers coming into the shop for advice, and Lucy wanted Mel to get till experience as soon as possible. It was Lucy especially who wanted Mel to be the right person for the job and trained up as soon as possible to allow her to move seamlessly into her own new role as working-hours baby-sitter.

Tony was more cautious, and didn’t want to frighten-off their new recruit by overloading  her either with the product knowledge or systems side of the business. The shop had managed without Mel for some weeks since the previous assistant had walked out. On that occasion, that girl had not been able to cope with learning all that had been expected of her.

‘I hear what you’re saying, Dad,’ Jamie said, ‘but Mel has already had experience of  both till handling and dealing with customers face-to-face. My guess is that some of her pub customers would need really sensitive handling after a few drinks.’

Tony agreed with the gist of what Jamie was saying but he pointed out that the shop’s till procedures would be a lot different from those in the pub.

Tony asked if either of the others had looked at the portfolio of photos that Mel had brought with her that morning. Because Mel had handed it to Lucy – addressed to Tony – she had just passed it on to him. He said that he’d left it in his office but would bring it home with him the next day. Tony’s impression was that Mel had real talent and that her photographic skills would be a great asset.

Jamie agreed and gave his reasons at length.

‘From what I saw today, Dad, Mel is red-hot on technique. It’s product knowledge that she needs to brush up on. As you’d expect, most of what she did at university was done using film cameras. She completely understands the differences between film and dslr cameras, but she really knows next to nothing about the new breed of mirrorless cameras that have been emerging since she graduated in 2012. On the other hand, she can handle a smartphone camera as well as any pro. She’ll have no difficulty advising customers how to choose once she’s up to date.’

‘Another thing that I noticed’ he said, ‘was how well she related to the few customers who were in today. She doesn’t try to baffle people with science. She’s amazing at crushing jargon into everyday terms.’

Overall, they all agreed that it had been a promising start and that Mel was a delight to work with.

Featured Photo

The photo that I’ve chosen today is the tenth 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.

The remaining photos in this series will be of people whom I saw as I walked along the canal path. Today’s image is of a cyclist in yellow who caught my eye. 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 #22

…..Previously

In 2015, at the time Mel began work in the shop, Jamie had no girlfriends in tow– that had been the case for several months now. Lucy was beginning to  despair of ever having grandchildren until Tracy had obliged a few weeks previously. Still, it would be nice if Jamie were to meet someone suitable.

Continued…..

CHAPTER FOUR

The Hannay family

Mel was the main subject of conversation during the evening meal at the Hannays’ house that first day for her in the shop. Tony hadn’t seen much of Mel, but Lucy and Jamie were really pleased by her attitude, her appearance, her enthusiasm and by how quickly she was learning.

Tony and Jamie had both realised, from Mel’s interview, whereabouts she lived, and they were quite familiar with that estate. The Hannays’ house was also in Upperton, but on a different small development, further down the hill from Mel’s address. Both estates  had been developed  in the late 1970s. The Hannays’ house was one of four, three-bedroomed detached houses. Two of the family cars – those of Lucy and Jamie – stood on the gravelled driveway that took up much of the house’s frontage. Tony’s car was in the garage.

Compared against the Harrington home, Tony and Lucy’s house was quite traditionally furnished and equipped. The rooms were smaller, the ceilings were lower and the garden was more modest.

The family was quite closely knit. The shop had originally been owned by Tony’s grandfather, Duncan Hannay,  who’d opened the shop just after the Second World War. Duncan was the son of a native Scotsman, who’d moved  to England  with his parents at the beginning of the twentieth century.  Born in 1920, Duncan had missed the first World War, but he’d been a war photographer during the second conflict – in the Army Film and Photographic Unit. He’d been trained in battle photography, but it hadn’t prepared him for some of the sights he’d encountered.

When the unit was disbanded in 1946, Duncan had turned his knowledge of cameras and photographic equipment to use as a civilian. He’d learned where to get hold of some Eastern European cameras cheaply to begin his business – and had sold them at first on a market stall and later from the shop premises he’d rented, but had eventually purchased. His son, Alec, had taken over running the business when Duncan stepped down. Alec’s son, Tony, had worked  in the shop from leaving school and, in turn, had taken over the shop in 2005, when Alec had retired aged sixty-five..

During the meal, Tony wondered aloud, whether Mel might be related to Brian Harrington, one of the shop’s regular clients, whom they knew lived in that area.. Slightly older than the Harringtons, the senior Hannays were both in their early fifties, while Jamie was twenty-six – some eighteen months older than his sister, Tracy. It was Tracy – who’d got married soon after university – whose recently born baby, Elaine, would be looked after by Lucy and by her grandparents on both sides. Tracy lived with her partner, Jake, and their child on an estate on the other side of the town and overlooking a lake. Jake was a paramedic and Tracy would shortly be returning to work as a nurse at the local hospital.

Featured Photo

The photo that I’ve chosen today is the ninth 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.

Today I’ve chosen an image of re-purposed, old farm implements seen in a farmyard alongside 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 1/125 secs @ f/8 and 28 mm. The ISO was 100. The shot was handheld.