They’d started going out together a couple of years before, after a party, and still saw each other regularly, but the relationship had never moved on to anything particularly romantic or permanent. The way things were playing out, they were never likely to do so.
Mel looked around at her surroundings. On their bank of the canal there were signs of Spring. She could see pussy willows and the yellow flowers of gorse. Blossom was emerging on short hawthorn trees and the first green shoots were emerging on the taller deciduous trees – though not enough yet to disguise the bare branches of the recent Winter. Across the canal, beyond the trees, she could see the cooling towers above the skyline of their home town, Codmanton – a post industrial town in the Dales of Northern England.
Their conversation progressed that afternoon as slowly as the water in the canal, which sluggishly sought a surly path through tall reeds that begrudged it passage to the navigable stretch beyond. The “reeds” that would have impeded any hopes of a future together – other than Mel’s growing disenchantment with Craig – were their employment and earnings prospects. The “open stretch” beyond could have promised them a home of their own and a secure life together – if Craig were ever to propose, or she to accept.
Mel’s dad, Brian Harrington, had been explaining economic reality to her only an hour ago.
‘You’re twenty-five, jobless and seem to expect to think that you can go living here without contributing a penny towards your keep,’ he’d said, ‘It’s three years now since you graduated.’
Brian was an architect, a partner in a small local practice. The family wasn’t short of money. With his earnings and the salary of his wife, Jean – a headteacher at a local primary school – they were quite well-off. Brian, however, didn’t want his daughter to remain in the ranks of the local army of young people who were living without hope of a secure career.
She’d only asked her Mum to lend her some money for some new summer clothes.
‘Get your arse into gear girl, he ordered her, ‘I need to see you trying harder to get a proper job. A few afternoons a week behind a bar, when they want you, just isn’t the key to self-sufficiency.’
He went on to inform her that she was not to treat her parents like a money tree and gave her an ultimatum in what sounded to be military terms – “shape up or ship out”.
Craig was regularly getting the same type of earache from his mum and dad. He was in a similarly dependent relationship with them.
Well, two for the price of one today! The featured photo shows the cooling towers – not at imaginary Codmanton – at Fidlers Ferry, near Widnes UK. I took the shot in 2019 across a small lake at the Clock Face Country Park, St Helens. For this image, I used a Pentax K3ii 24 MP camera with a a 16-85 mm f’3.5-5.6 telephoto lens. The EXIF data were 1/500 secs @f/6.7 and 48 mm, The ISO was 200.
The photo of the Heron among reeds on the Sankey Canal, Blackbrook Branch, St Helens is one I took in March this year using my Pentax KP 24 MP camera and a 35 mm f/2 prime lens. The EXIF data were 1/60 secs @ f/14 and ISO 500.