‘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.
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.
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.