Cherry and Glory

This story sprang from nowhere this morning… it’s only the beginning and as usual I have no idea where it might be going… actually I do have a couple of ideas!

I love my sister Cherry, she’s three minutes younger than me so I’m the eldest. I love her but I have to say I feel eclipsed by her, sort of put in the shade… put in the shade is actually is a good way of expressing it since she’s blond and sunny and I’m dark and gloomy… well actually I’m not gloomy, I just have the sort of face where people are forever saying ‘cheer up’ when I’m actually quite happy but just thinking about things

This is an example: we got our reports and our parents friends were staying and they were saying to their friends how brilliantly Cherry had done. So the mum said, and how did Glory do, and mum said oh she always does well… as if always doing well was not as good as doing brilliantly… what she meant was I always get a better report than Cherry… well I get a better report in exam results, not necessarily in the other stuff.

Cherry is so nice and lovely to everyone, and she’s really popular, everyone likes her – and she doesn’t even try to be popular like some people do, she’s just liked by everyone. The only person who doesn’t like her, although she pretends she does, is Glynis who has her own little group of friends, a clique I guess you’d call it,  and has a rich family so she has hangers-on because things like her birthday parties are always much more lavish than the ordinary sort of parties us ordinary sort of children have.

And people say ‘Cherry, what a lovely name… is it spelt Cherie? is it short for Cheryl?’ even though both Cherie and Cheryl are exactly the same number of letters… and no, her name is Cherry. With me they say ‘oh Glory, I guess that’s short for Gloria?’ Well, no actually, my name is Glory… thankfully it’s all due to a mistake either by my dad or the registrar because I was going to be called Gloria, but thankfully there was some sort of muddle and my actual birth certificate, and my baptismal certificate both say Glory – I think the vicar quite liked it.

Cherry is always good, I don’t mean in a goody-two-shoes sort of way, but she just always is – I don’t mean I’m not good, I don’t  try to be naughty or do the wrong thing, but sometimes I’m thinking of something and I sort of forget the other thing I’m supposed to do, or sometimes I’m reading a book and then mum says why haven’t you made your bed, or you’re supposed to be doing your homework, or why did you leave your boots all muddy... as if  I had deliberately thought oh I know, I’ll leave my bed all in a muddle or I actually won’t do my homework  now or what a good idea to leave my boots all covered with mud right where mum is going to trip over them…

Dad gave me a talking to… if your sister can remember to do things, why can’t you… she tries to be helpful to mum and after all mum does for you don’t you think you’re old enough now to be taking responsibility for yourself? It’s not Cherry’s fault that she remembers stuff and does it when she’s supposed to, that’s just the way she is… And like last exam time, Dad got quite cross because I wasn’t revising, but what was the point when  I knew it already. He said I couldn’t possibly… except I did and got really good results. Now this seems as if I’m blaming Cherry but honestly I got a bit fed up when Dad said well done to her, and to be honest she’d flunked her maths (but you really tried hard, Cherry, said Dad) and she’d not done as well as me, and Dad said to me, you got away with it this time, Glory – make sure you do your revision properly next exams…

You see what I mean…

© Lois Elsden 2018

Here’s a link to my completed books… novels I’ve published on Amazon, and they are for grown-ups:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_1_9?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=lois+elsden&sprefix=lois+elsd%2Caps%2C710&crid=2F373M560GI5U

 

Birthdays

Because my birthday is so near the beginning of the year, somehow it seems like the actual beginning of the year! I reflect on the past year since my last lot of candles on the cake, and look forwards to the year ahead. I guess being January – named for Janus the god of gates and doorways, the two-faced god looking forwards and backwards, inwards and outwards, it is a time for doing that. It comes not that long after the solstice so already the earth is turning from winter towards summer.

Here’s something I wrote a couple of years ago about January:

The name of the first month of the year comes from the Roman god of doorways, Janus, who is traditionally depicted with two faces, looking back and looking forward. It maybe a cliché but the phrase, ‘when one door shuts another opens’, is so true, especially if we wait patiently for that door to spring wide and then step resolutely through! It is more than finding the silver lining inside the gloomy cloud, it is more active than that; firmly shut the door on what has happened (even if it seems as if the door slammed of its own accord) and then look in unexpected places for the next door to dance through. The Saxon name for January is Wulf-monath, wolf month… and doesn’t the name just conjure those long, grim wild creatures sloping off through the snowy forests in search of prey. It may be a lean time, but wolves are bright-eyed and strong, and fearless.

My daughter asked me what I wanted to achieve this year… Gosh! What a question… first answer, to finish my next Radwinter book, Saltpans, and then I have other writing projects to tackle, which I listed the other day, but here is a brief selection –

  • my character Gus has been wandering the water-meadows near his seaside home, and visiting the pub and attending quiz night with various people – it really is about time his story was finished
  • another of my characters, Theo, the half-Danish half-Swedish musician has also had more than enough of wandering around from job to job and crappy room to crappy room – and he has met a lady who is gradually falling in love with him! Their situation needs to be resolved!
  • I may not finish my autobiographical writing, but I need to get to grips with it – I have a title ‘And the River’ – maybe it will be finished in 2019!
  • I have another blog with two friends, The Moving Dragon Writes; we have published one anthology and hope to publish another this year. One of my fellow Dragons and I have also set ourselves the challenge of writing 73 blogs from a list we came across – we are about a quarter of the way through and very pleased(I hope not in a big-headed way) at what we have achieved. We hope that we will bring these seventy-three different blogs together and publish in three volumes… or maybe four, it depends how long the different ‘chapters’ are!
  • come November and it will be the National Novel Writing Month challenge which maybe I will undertake, for the sixth time. (I am going to leave 2017’s effort about a mysterious woman called Milla; I’ll come back to it when I’ve got my other unfinished stories complete!) For NaNoWriMo 2018 I may start the next Radwinter story, ‘Alone’.

So what else do I hope to achieve this year… travel, definitely! We don’t know Dorset very well, so maybe explore that lovely county, a return to the Tenby area where my family had a couple of very happy holidays, maybe visit Turkey – yes, I would love to go there! … and of course, a dream would be to return to Tasmania!

… and on a very mundane level… try and tidy the house and garden!!

Here are some links:

https://somersetwriters.wordpress.com

http://amzn.eu/9xZe2RA

https://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=lois+elsden

… oh and also get fitter and lose weight!!

My 2017: November

November for me over the past five years has meant one thing… the National Novel Writing Month challenge – 50,000 words to be written during the month of November. I chronicled this pretty fully as I was writing, sharing my story, my anxiety about getting behind, my thoughts that this year I might fail, the growing sense that maybe I could push on and do it and then hurrah! 50,053 words!!

So how did that compare to previous years:

  • 2013: ‘Radwinter’  genealogical mystery. 73026 words
  • 2014: ‘Raddy and Syl’ – genealogical mystery: Thomas has traced his paternal ancestors to 1830’s war-torn Europe; he has followed his maternal line and found murder and betrayal. Now he needs to look closer to home, to discover the truth about the people who brought him up, Edward and Sylvia Radwinter, Raddy and Syl, in order to find out who he really is. 50,092 words
  • 2015: ‘Earthquake’  – genealogical mystery:  stalker stalked… maybe… 53030 words
  • 2016: ‘And the river’ – memoir: This is a meander, not sure where it is going or what will be seen, from it or in it… This began as a story of my life and that of my family, told through the rivers I have been connected with… as with real rivers, it went its own way and covered a lot of ground… and it hasn’t yet reached its end! 51282 words

And this is what I wrote on day 1 this year:

It’s November, and for some writers the  first day of the month is greeted with a mixture of excitement, dread and a sort of paralysing creative nervousness. This is the month that many of us challenge ourselves to write fifty thousand words, yes, 50,000 words in the thirty days of November.

It sounds at the outset as impossible… 1,667 words a day? Is anyone able to do that? Yes, yes they are, and yes, yes they do.  It is an on-line challenge, there are no prizes, only the satisfaction of knowing you’ve completed it – and if you don’t manage, well at least you tried, and if you don’t manage to write a single word, well at least you thought about it and probably ran through a few ideas in your head before dismissing them all. Those ideas might come back to you one day!

The challenge is called The National Novel Writing Month – the original idea was to write the first fifty thousand words of a new novel; however because there are so many different forms of writing, and the whole point is to inspire people to write and not put them off, it has been somewhat relaxed, and now it is fifty thousand new words.

The idea is that once you start writing,. Like in a timed exam, you just don’t have the time to worry about detail, you just have to get those words on the age – so if the main character’s eyes are blue or brown, or the farm is called Greenvale or High Trees it really doesn’t matter, all those little things can be sorted later, and with the challenge completed the decision-making may have been made without you noticing.

I have taken the challenge four times, plus a ‘Camp Nano’ and I am going to try again… I don’t know if I will make it this time… but I am going to try!

I really recommend it as an exciting challenge – have a go, you might surprise yourself – I certainly surprised myself!

 

My 2017: July

July was a busy month for lots of reasons, but as usual it was dominated by writing…. Here’s a story I wrote for one of my writing groups – not one that I lead, but one that I just go to! It’s set in the fictitious Umbrella Factory Museum

The Boy

“Julie! Hello! Did you have a wonderful time?” I called.

She saw me and worked her way between the tables with her tray. I stood up as she arrived and took her coffee and carrot cake and set it down took off her coat.

“Hello, Dora, you’re looking well! What news?”

She sat down and then moved the table a little, altering the angle of her chair so she could see the counter. I thought she might have been bursting to tell me about the holiday… maybe it hadn’t gone as well as she hoped, although she’d definitely caught the sun. She glanced back to the counter, looking for her ‘boy’ as she called him.

The rest of us in the book club used to have a little chuckle, well, actually quite a big chuckle over Julie and the boy. Julie is the same age as us I guess, somewhere between mid-fifties and early sixties, the boy is probably about forty, so not really a boy at all. We could never see what she saw, he was an OK looking guy, very pleasant and friendly when he served us coffee or whatever. Julie had a big what we used to call ‘crush’ on him… which did amuse us!

I didn’t have much news; the hens were laying well, I’d made a great batch of both quince and crab apple jelly… the usual sort of domestic things, and I’d done a lot of walking and writing. She asked how my walking book was going. She was pushing bits of carrot cake around the plate. It’s her passion and usually she attacks it with gusto.

I was more interested in hearing about the Cape Verde Islands, but I obliged her with recounting where I was up to in my guide to unusual and unexpected places, and how to get there via an interesting route.

“How’s Ruby?” I had to ask after her mother. We tried to avoid it because otherwise the whole conversation would take a downward spiral. We all felt so sorry for Julie; Ruby her mother was lovely and we tried to visit regularly, but she was very wearying… sweet, but so dependent and so… well, so … well, trying really.

We took it in turns to have the book club at each other’s homes, but now we only saw Julie when it was her turn to host it – she couldn’t leave Ruby in the evenings. Ruby insisted on ‘being sociable’ and joining in, but she’d never read the book, and always tried to talk about other things. As I said, we felt so sorry for Julie that we put up with it, but it made it difficult to get any new members; a new person wouldn’t want to have a book club where we talked about Princess Diana and how Woman’s Weekly wasn’t as good as it used to be.

Julie was looking across at the counter; there’d been a big reorganisation in the museum, the café had become so popular that it had expanded into what had been the old library. The museum staff were expected to serve in the café as well as doing the museum work. We meet here regularly, good coffee, nice cakes, and a museum! What more could you want! But for Julie there was an extra, the boy.

The boy was Rohan and as I said we used to have a private chuckle over how much Julie ‘liked’ him – we called him her toy boy and it got shortened to the ‘boy’. We would tease her gently as she came back blushing and happy if he happened to serve her, and roll our eyes when we met her outside and she told us about him, what he’d been wearing, what he’d said to her, what she’d said to him – it was only ever ‘Is it raining outside?’ ‘Yes, a bit.’ ‘I thought it might be everyone’s coming in with umbrellas.’ That sort of thing…

“So, come on, how were the Cape Verde Islands?” I asked.

I thought for a moment she was going to cry, but she blinked it back.

“It should have been wonderful, it should have been such an escape! I should have felt free!” she exclaimed, almost angrily. I felt desperate for her; it was the first time she’d been away from her mother for more than a couple of days since she’d moved in when her marriage broke down. It turned out her husband had spent all their savings and remortgaged the house. Julie had had no choice but to live with Ruby… to become her carer in effect… her nurse…

Julie worked at home doing secretarial and the accounts for a firm in town, and a couple of times a week Ruby went to an old people’s social club which gave Julie the freedom to come out and meet her friends, as she was meeting me now. We nearly always met in the museum… I think it was the highlight of her week to sit drinking coffee and watching the boy surreptitiously.

So the holiday… Every day she was away Julie had rung the care home where Ruby had been accommodated… and it was always something… Ruby begging her to come back early, Ruby not eating (the food was disgusting she said) Ruby not sleeping (the beds were like concrete) Ruby not wanting to get up… the care home had been wonderful and told Julie there was nothing to worry about, her mother was fine… but it had ruined the holiday.

“And now I come back to this!” she said…

She’d come into the museum last week and again this week, several times she told me, and the boy was not here, not on any of the days he usually worked, nor was he working anywhere else in the museum.

“I thought maybe because it was half term last week he was looking after his son,” she was genuinely upset. “But no, now he’s still not been here!”

She abruptly changed the subject to the novel we were reading for book club. She always read them, even though she only saw us once in a blue moon.

Poor Julie… and we arranged to meet the following week, back here in the museum.

***

“Hello there, what can I get you?” it was Rohan, the boy, back behind the counter. He smiled in his friendly way and we had a trifling conversation about the new type of coffee beans. He was quite handsome I suppose, but I couldn’t really see what Julie saw.

I took my coffee over to her where she sat beaming. We don’t often embrace but she jumped up, unloaded my tray then gave me a hug.

“Your boy’s back!” I exclaimed and she grinned. “Are you going to ask him out? I’ll sit with Ruby!”

“Don’t be silly… it’s not like that… of course it isn’t… And anyway, even if he was older or I was younger it still wouldn’t be like that! I’m not free am I? But to come here a couple of times a week…” she stopped. “I know you think I’m ridiculous, that I’m a ridiculous old woman, and I know you all laugh at me, but the boy…” She tapped the side of her head. “In here, in my head, anything is possible! In here I’m free!”

© Lois Elsden 2017

If you want to read more of my stories, here’s a link to where you can find my ebooks, and my paperback Radwinter:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=lois+elsden

A writing list

A writing chum told me has made a 2018 writing list – things he intends to tackle next year… I’ve got some priorities in my head, but as for a list, well, I hadn’t thought of it… so what would be on my list should I make one?

I think it goes without saying that I will continue to write here, sharing my thoughts, ideas, memories and my writing. I must also get back seriously or seriously get back to finishing my next Radwinter novel, which has been marooned three-quarter way through since the beginning of November when I tackled the national Novel Writing challenge of completing 50,000 words in a month. So finish Thomas Radwinter’s next story provisionally entitled ‘Saltpans‘, and I have an idea for another for later on in the year probably called ‘Alone‘. On the Radwinter front, I also want to publish as paperbacks at least two of my e-books, ‘Magick’ and ‘Raddy and Syl‘, and if all goes extremely well, then also ‘Beyond Hope‘.

In January and February I must prepare for a talk and two workshops I’m giving in February; the talk is on writing about family history, as I mentioned yesterday, and the workshops are on the process of writing and blogging.

I also have my unfinished stories – ‘Gus’, ‘Dancing in the Road’, ‘And the River…’, ‘Hamazasb and the Missing Shoe‘, and a couple of other bits of writing I started. There is also the story I began this year for NaNoWriMo, about Milla. Of those, I think there’s only a couple which I might actually tackle, others are very much on the back burner, as well as some I wrote many years ago which would need a total re-write.

I have completed five NaNoWriMo challenges, every year since 2013; they have been a great way to really get to grips with a new story, but they are also a great drain on time… the idea is also quite additive, though, will I be able to resist the challenge? Or maybe should I use it to get to grips with ‘Alone’? That actually is a good idea!!

I mentioned at the start my commitment to writing here; I also share another blog with two writing friends (which is actually open to anyone to contribute to!) From that we published an anthology last year and are hoping to publish a second next year. That is more a case of pulling together already written pieces rather than creating anything new but it still involves work. On our other blog we have challenged ourselves to write about subjects from a list we discovered with seventy-three suggestions of topics. We are doing really well with it, and have had a thought that maybe they could be edited and published – in three volumes!! There would just be too many words for one book!

So that I guess is my writing list… but then of course, something new, a whole new story might bob into my mind!! Inspiration happens in the most unlikely places and with the most unexpected ideas!

So, maybe like my friend I should write a list… should it be a calendar/diary/timetable?

  1. January – finish first draft of ‘Saltpans‘, prepare for family history talk and writing workshops. Begin to edit ‘Magic’ for paperback publication
  2. February – deliver family history talk and writing workshops, work on editing ‘Saltpans‘, also continue to edit ‘Magick‘ as a paperback – this takes much longer than you might think!
  3. March – prepare and publish ‘Saltpans‘, prepare first draft of seventy-three blog anthology, book I.
  4. April – work on ‘seventy-three’ maybe start thinking about next story for me – perhaps ‘Dancing in the Road’, but maybe something new will spring into my mind! Publish ‘Magick’ as a paperback’ and start of paperback editing of ‘Raddy and Syl’.
  5. May – publish ’73’, continue work on whatever new/old thing I’m writing
  6. June – writing, writing, writing, publish ‘Raddy and Syl‘ paperback, start preparing ‘Beyond Hope’ as a paperback
  7. July – more writing, writing, writing, continue with ‘Beyond Hope‘ paperback
  8. August – as for July but publish new paperback
  9. September – complete whatever I started new in April (maybe it will have got to the editing stage by now) Begin to look at second anthology with my two writing friends, to publish November/December
  10. October  – ditto September
  11. November – new Nano challenge, but also some light editing and pulling together of the April book, publish anthology II with friends
  12. December – maybe publish new book? Maybe continue what I started as Nano?

Writing it down like this makes 2018 look a massive challenge – however, a lot of it is editing and working on old things. This year I have felt that creativity has been pushed into the corner by other stuff I’ve been doing; I really want to make sure it isn’t the same in 2018. It’s all about balance.

2017 has been a great year, and I’ll write about in the next few days, but if I have any resolution for next year, it is what I mentioned above – find balance!

Went the day well? NaNo day 1

In case you’re wondering, my title, ‘Went the day well?’ was from a 1942 film based on a story by Graham Greene, which was a quote from a poem:

Went the day well?
We died and never knew.
But, well or ill,
Freedom, we died for you.

John Maxwell Edmonds.

I’m using it about something far less important or significant, the first day of the 1917 National Novel Writing Month – the online challenge to write 50,000 words during the month of November.

This is my fifth year of attempting it, and in the last four attempts I was successful, although with a couple it was a close-run thing, completing the challenge a few minutes before midnight on November 30th!

I was all set up with what I was going to do; I have a character called Gus and I’ve written about him several times, and I decided I wanted to pull his story together and NaNoWriMo seemed the ideal vehicle for my attempt. So… I had a busy day yesterday, lots of things happened, some planned some unexpected, some good, some really not good at all.

I sat down first thing and opened a new document… and blank… Gus had wandered off… he obviously didn’t think he was ready to share his story. There would be no point in forcing it I knew, that way difficulty lies! I have so many other things I am doing at the moment, probably too many, that I knew Gus would prove recalcitrant and reluctant.

I did have a back-up plan; after I finish writing my novels quite often the characters’ stories continue in my head and I sometimes actually write down what happens next – this doesn’t develop into a sequel, but some of the ideas might lead to something new (what happened to the characters in ‘Farholm’ resulted in an idea which developed into ‘The Stalking of Rosa Czekov‘) However, when I tried to find a couple of these ideas I wanted to pursue I couldn’t locate them; I have an awful feeling that when I was doing my mass clear out and tidy that they went into the recycling bin)

So at eleven o’clock last night, I addressed the empty page. I started something completely new, something which had just been a vague idea floating around… I don’t know whether it will work, but it’s started and I managed to write 1076 words before midnight!!

I will try to keep you up to date with my progress… and will maybe share more about my idea later today… but definitely tomorrow!!

Here are links to ‘Farholm‘ and ‘Rosa‘:

http://amzn.eu/6YAke3w

http://amzn.eu/0KjhkE4

… and here is a clue about what I’m writing about:

https://loiselden.com/2017/10/10/the-bowman-the-tusked-creature-and-the-three-diamonds/

PS my featured image has nothing to do with what I’m writing, it’s just a picture I like!

Rolling in the road

Here’s an extract from a novel I started writing a while ago… It will be finished one day!

The unnamed narrator, a woman in her late forties, had an unexpected romantic encounter with a Danish singer who was performing in the pub where she worked part-time. She hadn’t expected to see him again…

She didn’t think she had been in the Lark before, or maybe not for a very long time, but she slipped in and pushed through the crowd to get to the bar. There was some sort of announcement being made which meant she had to mouth ‘white wine’ at the girl serving her, and dammit she would have a large one and she indicated large with finger and thumb.
The announcement finished and there was a spatter of applause and then the strum of a guitar. It sounded like Theo! And seconds later, she could hear his deep voice; he sounded nervous but she couldn’t see where he was, she was hemmed in by a group of friends, husbands and wives a similar age to herself but all very tall and the men quite stout.
Coming in from the street, she had noticed an open room to the left and a long area in front with an L-shaped bar to serve both;  she couldn’t at first see where he was, as there was a speaker above her head so she could hear him singing a song she remembered which had the word ‘apocalypse’ in it.
She thought he must be at the back of the pub at the end of the long bar, but when she struggled through the crowd of football fans, she realised they were watching a match on the large TV, so she turned and struggled back as Theo finished his song. There was a vague token patter of applause, and after a mumble he sang a second song which was a bit faster and less gloomy. She came back to the front of the pub and by squeezing past a group of very loud women, she was able to find a place at the end of the short bar, by the fruit machine, where she could see him.
He was singing with his eyes shut which didn’t help him connect with the people sitting round with drinks and bar snacks chatting away to each other. He finished and she applauded enthusiastically, which got a few other people clapping. He went onto another faster song, and she thought how much better it would be here in this noisy pub if he at least had a bass player to give a bit more depth. It was a song she didn’t remember, and when she heard the line ‘and there you were, working in the bar,’ she wondered for a little moment if he had written it about her, but she guessed he probably picked up lots of women in bars… he’d told her he worked in a bar but he hadn’t mentioned where.
He finished with a bit more of a flourish and to a little warmer applause. She put two fingers to her mouth and gave a piercing whistle which encouraged more clapping; he glanced round but didn’t see her. He said something but he spoke so indistinctly that no-one would have the least clue what he had said. Something about ‘dancing’ she thought. It was a country-style song, a waltz, and again, the lyrics she caught reminded her of her brief connection with him, ‘walking home in the rain… in my arms dancing again…
People seemed to like this one and there were a few shouts and whistles, and she whistled again and this time he did see her, and his face split into a delighted grin, and she flushed and clapped more.
“Is he your boyfriend, then, love?” said one of the loud women. “He’s a bit of alright, but his music’s crap.”  It was said it in such a friendly way that it was difficult to know how to reply.
Theo sang a few more songs and then finished. He put his guitar in his case and came over to her.
“You came to hear me?” he kissed her cheek.
“A lucky chance, I just came in for a drink and here you were! Let me buy you a drink,” and she bought him a beer.
“You really like my songs?” he asked, and it mattered to him that she did.
“Yes, I really do! I think you are so amazingly talented!”
“Not everyone thinks so like you.”
They stayed squashed together at the bar, having a rather awkward conversation, because really they knew nothing about each other, a one night stand… is that the way people talk about it now? He was the first person who’d made love to her since she split with Gerry… it seemed rather remarkable somehow, she had always enjoyed, and almost needed the intimate side of their life together, but somehow when she was on her own she had gone off the idea. She had dated a couple of not very interesting men and sex really hadn’t been an option… so quite how she had ended up in bed with Theo was still a mystery… but it had been totally fabulous, and she found herself smiling at him as they spoke, smiling at the memory.
The landlord whose name apparently was Bob came and asked Theo if he would do another set, and as he went to sort the mics and unpack his guitar again, Bob confided in her that he’d only asked him to do one set originally in case he wasn’t any good. But folks had liked him, so he could do another forty minutes. Bob hoped he wouldn’t sing too many of the gloomy songs though, it wouldn’t make people drink more, or at least, not in the Lark!
Theo, however looked more confident and definitely more cheerful, and he looked around as he introduced his next song, and spoke more clearly. He tuned his guitar and then with a glance and a wink at her, he launched into a song about rolling in the road… maybe he meant rolling along the road, his English wasn’t always quite right.
The pub was actually packed now, hardly room to move and people had come in front of her and she was trapped by the bar, perched on her stool, hemmed in by the shrieking women. The noise was phenomenal and she couldn’t properly hear him. She waved at the girl behind the bar who brought her a pint and another wine.
“Blimey!” the girl shouted. “Never known it so packed!” and she took the money and hurried away to serve someone else.
The juke-box began to play again, so Theo must have finished but there was no sign of him. She got off the stool by pushing the woman and she forced herself through the crowd towards the end of the bar by the big fireplace where Theo had been… he was gone…
She was stunned. Gone! But of course, why should he not have done? She stood, buffeted by people, and she felt a crushing disappointment. Stupid, what did she expect?
She would finish her wine and go home, and try and think of how she had enjoyed herself… she had left her bag and phone on the bar which was also stupid, anyone could nick her things. She pushed through the crowd as she heard the bell ring for last orders… she wouldn’t bother, she’d had more than enough, she would be staggering home at this rate. The big woman who had been leaning against her was now sitting on the stool, and when she managed to squeeze round her she saw to her horror that her bag and phone had gone and so had her wine and the pint of lager she had bought him.
Damn, damn bloody damn!
She tried to ask the woman on the stool if she had seen anyone take her things… her bag! Her phone! How could she be so stupid! She stared in disbelief at the place on the bar where her things had been, beside the Lifeboat charity box. The girl behind the bar was trying to shout something at her as she pulled a pint. Maybe she had put her bag and phone safely behind the bar.
“Over there!” The girl nodded  down the long bar. “Gave them to your boyfriend!”
And suddenly she heard Theo’s huh-huh-huh of a deep laugh, and looking along the bar she could see his big shoulders and the blond hair tied back hanging down his back. She squeezed through the press of people pushing to get to the bar for a last drink – where had they all come from? – and  she almost fought her way round to the other bar.

© Lois Elsden 2017

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