All’s well that ends well

Yesterday we heard Diane, Katie’s daughter, telling Greg that he’d make someone a good husband – and as a clue, that she’d like a Dad again.

Today begins with a wedding – the marriage of Diane to Mark. aturally, is the photographer. We read how he and his assistant, Paul, work together in the church and the venue making sure that everything is captured perfectly.

After the meal – Greg had sat with Diane’s family as a guest – he and Paul compare notes. Paul has copied all the still shots to a laptop so that Greg can begin the act of culling the 1500 shots down to a manageable number. It’s at this point that Katie taps him on the shoulder to whisk him away to somewhere quiet, outside the function room, for interrogation.

Diane has been giving her earache lately – hints that Greg fancies her. She demands to know what’s going on. Greg tells her about the conversation in his shop with Diane. When he gets to the bit about her wanting a Dad, Katie explodes.

She says that she has been watching Greg but has seen no sign of passion. He tells her that he has loved her since they were children, but she has never noticed him as a person, only as as someone she sometimes works with. She tells him that he’s never said anything to her about his love. He tells her that he didn’t see the point. She always fancied stronger, fitter boys and, later on, that type of men. He obviously hasn’t been her type. He’s been invisible to her except in business.

But that was then, she tells him, this is now. He says that she’s right, and leads her back into the function room where, on one knee, and in front of her family and friends, he proposes. She accepts, they kiss and he asks who’s going to photograph their wedding.

End of story. I told you that I was nearing the end. Goodness only knows what I’ll find to write about tomorrow. In the end the story needed only 20,000 or so words, hardly even novella length, but I like the tale as it is and I have no intention of padding it out to some arbitrary length for publishing purposes. I wrote it because I felt that I had to write it.

Today’s featured photo is of giant, illuminated, and animated spiders crawling across the wall of Liverpool’s Cunard Building – one of the port’s famous ‘Three Graces’.

I used my Pentax 36 MP full-frame camera mounted on a tripod and with a 15-30 mm f/2.8 lens at 15 mm and f/2.8. The shutter speed was 1/60 secs and the ISO 3200.

Turning Tables

I’ve pinched Adele’s song title for today’s post because some tables are being turned in my story as I near the close in my writing.

I left Katie and Greg, in my most recent post, at the point where Katie has met someone new – her first boyfriend since her husband died five years previously. Diane is horrified – she dislikes, Phil, the new man on sight, and thinks that he looks creepy. She tells her Mum that the news will devastate Greg. Her Mum doesn’t understand why that should be. Diane can’t believe that Katie hasn’t noticed how Greg has always adored her. Katie doesn’t believe her.

Two years or so later, Katie’s Mum and Dad bring news to Katie that they believe that Phil is already married. While they were out in their car, they’d seen him with another woman and a toddler. They’d done some checking on marriages, using Ancestry, that seems to confirm their belief. Katie tells them that she doesn’t believe them. Nevertheless, she does some detective work of her own using the Electoral register, and now the truth begins to register. Shortly afterwards she confronts him and he walks out on her. Tables are turning.

The following year, 2017, is the 18th birthday of Katie’s daughter Diane. There is a small birthday meal in a hotel at which Diane and her boyfriend, Katie, her Mum and Dad, Beryl and Jimmy, are celebrating – Greg has also been invited as Diane’s honorary ‘uncle’.

I’ve written this as a three-handed scene. Katie is watching Greg to try to assess the truth in what Diane had told her. For their part, Greg and Diane, each in their own way, are aware of Katie’s unaccustomed interest in Greg. By the end of the meal, Katie has come to realise that she may have been blind to Greg’s qualities.

Approaching her finals at her sixth-form college, a couple of months after the meal, Diane visits the shop for career advice. Before she leaves, she tells Greg that Mark has been talking to her about marriage. She asks for his advice. He points out that he has never been married. She tells him that he’d make someone a lovely husband – to someone she won’t name – but she (Diane) feels that she’d like to have a Dad again.

As I promised a couple of days ago, this week’s photos will all be from River of Light festivals in Liverpool. This one is from November, 2019 and shows an illuminated portal through which people could walk as the lights bulbs lit up in sequence to give the illusion that they were passing you as you passed to the other side. Relativity in action.

I took all the photos I’m posting this week using my 36 MP Pentax K-1 full-frame camera and a 15-30 mm f/2.8 lens at 30 mm and f/2.8. The ISO was 3200 and the shutter speed 1/60 secs.

Unrequited love

Poor Greg. When he and Alison were living together, she’d never wanted to get married. She loved him, she’d said, but she was ambitious, and was afraid of losing her independence. As I reported in yesterday’s post, she has now left for the United States to fulfil better her career goals as a wedding planner. They’ve kept in touch by telephone and email but now, four years later, she drops the bombshell that she’s engaged to be married.

Greg had known that she would be likely to fall in love with someone new in her new homeland, but that she would now be married has stuck in his craw. It wasn’t as if she wanted children with her husband-to-be: she still didn’t want that career impediment. “So why marry,” he asked himself. On consideration, afterwards, he realises that he’s just going to have to move on with his own life.

His camera shop, wedding and allied photography businesses are now flourishing. He continues to visit Katie, whom he has always loved, and helps her to cope with the death of her husband. All too soon though, another blow falls.

Katie is in her kitchen with her daughter preparing a meal. Casually, she drops into the conversation that she’s met someone she likes and that they’ll be dating. Diane is shocked. She wants to see the new man’s photo and to learn what’s so special about him. Diane thinks that his image in the photo looks like someone who is wanted by the police for murder or similar.

Her view doesn’t change much when she gets to meet him. She thinks that he’s creepy and she tells her Mum that she can’t believe that she’d choose someone like Mark – the new love’s name – over Greg. It’s Katie’s turn to be shocked now. Diane must be mistaken she says. To her Greg is just a really nice friend. Diane seeks to disabuse her, telling her Mum that she’s seen how Greg has always adored her.

For what comes next you’ll have to look for tomorrow’s posting.

Today’s photograph, and all those that I’ll be posting this week, is one I took at Liverpool’s River of Light festival in 2019. The festival had taken place in the first week in November for each of the three preceding years but has been cancelled for 2020 because of the pandemic. The scene is in the Exchange Flags area behind Liverpool Town Hall (shown at the rear of the photo) – and features giant illuminated rabbits. I captured this using my Pentax K-1, 36 MP full-frame camera, using a 15-30 mm f/2.8 lens at 15 mm and f/5.6. The shutter speed was 3/10 secs and the ISO 800. The camera was tripod mounted.

A farewell and a funeral

Well, it is Halloween as I write, and what I’ve written isn’t a bundle of joy. I had to start with Greg, one Sunday morning, driving Alison to Manchester Airport to see her off on her one-way journey to New York and a new life with him not part of it. There were tears. They do agree to keep in touch by phone and text though.

Moving on, an interlude of better news. The shopfitting has been a success and the shop is doing a roaring trade as the tourist season begins. He specialises in high-end cameras as a brand ambassador. He has a new graduate assistant, two Saturday part-time staff and a leased four-wheeled drive off-road car for taking small groups of photographers into the hills to help them to understand their cameras better and to develop their skills in taking landscape shots. The wedding business is going well too.

From his phone discussions with Alison, he gathers that she too is doing well in America. He still gets depressed, like bereavement, when he isn’t busy, but Katie and Geoff provide him with a lot of support.

A couple of years later, while he is at the evening reception after a wedding, his phone rings. It’s Katie, in tears. Her husband, Geoff is on his way to hospital. He was a back-seat passenger in a car that has spun off the road in heavy rain. He’d been on his way home after a rugby match where he’d been playing. Greg asks his assistant to take over and drives straight to Katie’s house.

He arranges to drive Katie and her Dad to the hospital while her Mum minds Diane, Katie’s child, who’s asleep, unaware of the crisis. Shortly after arriving at the hospital they learn that Geoff has died during surgery intended to save him.

The final scene is at the church where Geoff’s funeral service is taking place. Obviously, more tears.

The photograph today is of the Liver Buildings in Liverpool from the grounds of the Parish Church of Our Lady and St Nicholas during the week long River Of Lights festival. This was taken in 2019: the event was cancelled this year because of Covid but usually happens the first week in November and includes a fireworks festival. I’ll be posting photos from last year every day during the coming week as a tribute.

I took this shot with my full-frame 36 MP Pentax K-1 camera using a 15-30 mm f/2.8 lens at 15 mm and f/4. The ISO was 3200 and the shutter speed 1/25. The camera was tripod mounted.

More bad news for Greg tomorrow.

La Serenissima

Venice – the legendary most serene city. Alison and Greg, with only months to go before she emigrates to New York, leaving him forever, spend their first and last holiday together. It’s a romantic trip, but once it’s over they know that they need to make the most of their remaining partnership.

Before that though, we see another landmark event as Tom retires and hands over the shop to Greg. Unknown to him, Alison and Greg have decorated the shop with balloons and greeting cards from past customers, many of whom visit during the day and sharing memories. That evening, another surprise awaits Tom. The couple have conspired with Tom’s wife, Norma, to book a surprise meal for him at an upmarket Chester hotel. Katie and Geoff are among the guests.

The following day, though, Greg and Alison are hard at work. The shop is closed for the day. A new sign is being installed above the shop window reflecting its new, more comprehensive service. Greg is going to take the shop into a digital era (by now the storyline has moved on to 2006). Alison stocks the shop window with a display of selected cameras. Greg works on the interior to showcase the new range of merchandise. A shopfitter will complete the makeover in a couple of months time – and our couple have booked their Venetian break to coincide with that taking place.

Today’s featured photo does depict a scene in the chapter that I’ve been working on today. Coincidentally, the Venetian storyline is set as being in the same year as this snapshot. It looks across gondolas moored on the Venice’s Grand Canal, close to the Piazza San Marco towards the Church of San Giorgio Maggiore. I took this shot while on holiday in 2007, using a Panasonic Lumix DMC- FX50 compact camera. The EXIF data are shutter speed 1/125 secs at f/10 and a focal length of 8.1 mm. The ISO was 100.

The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men, Gang aft agley

From Robert Burns’ poem ‘To a mouse’, which, in its penultimate verse, concludes, ‘ The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men, Gang aft agley, An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain, For promis’d joy!’

Today, after telling Alison about his discussion with Tom about the future of the shop and outlining his hopes, they talk through some of the implications. He then asks her whether she has any long term plans for her wedding planning business. She drops a bombshell.

Alison has enjoyed the buzz of working with Greg and Katie in their three-way business, but she sees the future of her own enterprise as being online, yet with a personal touch, in America. He is shocked. He asks how long she has been planning this, how imminent her leaving will be and how it leaves them and their relationship.

She admits that the idea itself is quite recent – that such a possibility has only arisen recently – and that she hasn’t really fully explored how to go about it, let alone when her plans could come to fruition. Regarding their relationship, she tells him that she loves him, but realises that a time could come when she’d wish that she’d followed her dream. If that were to come to pass, she might finish-up frustrated and blame him for holding her back. She hopes that he wouldn’t begrudge her looking for continued self-fulfilment.

Greg is upset, but he realises that she is right – that, if she really wants to do this, it would be selfish of him to try to stand in her way. She asks whether he’ll want her to leave – for them to split up now, rather than later. They agree to continue as they are for the time being. He loves her, and can’t see himself stopping loving her. He hopes that they can keep in touch, but understands that she’ll probably meet someone else in the States.

Meanwhile, how are Katie and Geoff getting on in their marriage? More tomorrow.

The featured photograph today is one that I took this week in my garden. It celebrates autumn colour during lockdown and shows an Acer Palmatum Dissectum Atropurporeum – a drooping red maple with finely cut leaves. I took the shot with my Pentax K-1, 36 MP full-frame camera mounted with a 24-70 mm f/2.8 lens at 70 mm and f/2.8. The ISO was 100 and the shutter speed 1/30 secs. The camera was tripod mounted.

Three’s company

Greg and Alison have moved into the flat and, while their parents have helped tremendously, the couple are grateful to have their independence at last as they start their new lives. Mums and Dads might be looking forward to grandchildren, but this cash-strapped couple are looking ahead.

Meanwhile, the talked-of, three-way, cross-referencing deal between Alison, Greg (per pro Tom) and Katie’s salon has started paying dividends with sixteen group customers during the first year – in addition to any other walk-in business other than planned weddings.

I haven’t had as much time to write today – for various reasons – but, I’ve added about 1300 words. I concluded the day’s writing with a short chapter in which Tom speaks of his retirement plans and asks Greg for his reactions. As Tom had hoped, Greg does want to take over as tenant if he and Tom can fix it with the landlord, but both of them are aware of the costs that Greg and Alison will have to think about in the three years before Tom leaves for his retirement.

Greg has told Tom that renting the shop with its current goodwill and great passing trade would be a dream come true – but he’ll want to make changes. For a start he’ll want to get rid of the darkroom and the film-based photography so loved b y Tom. Even in 2002, Greg knows that he’ll have to be ready for a digital world. Additionally he wants to use one room as a portrait studio, another as a gallery and a third as a video-editing suite. He wants to start selling digital cameras and accessories and will need to display and store them properly. Lots of shopfitting to finance then.

Today’s featured photograph is of Windleshaw Chantry in a section of St Helens Cemetery, reserved, in its time, for Roman Catholic burials. The Chantry Building predates the reign of King Henry VIII. I chose this image because it seems suitably spooky as we approach Halloween.

I took the shot using my old Pentax K-50 mounted on a tripod. I used a film vintage 35 mm f’2.4 prime lens at 35mm with an aperture of f/22, ISO 100 and shutter speed of half a second.

A new start

Today, I decided that Greg needed a girlfriend to tide him over until Katie becomes free at last to recognise his qualities as her one-and-only. Alison is a wedding planner. They meet at a wedding. Greg has never met a wedding planner before. He thought that she was a guest. They exchange business cards and arrange to meet for coffee. The meeting gives rise to a date, and soon she is helping him to photograph Katie’s staff doing the hairstyles for the upcoming competition.

Afterwards, before they leave, they sit and talk to Katie who is now five months pregnant. She asks them about their relationship. It’s going so well that they’d like to rent a house together but can’t really afford it. Katie has a brainwave. (I was struggling to help them until she did.) She and Geoff are living in the flat above the salon, but the flat won’t be big enough for them and the baby so they were waiting to move into a new house on an estate nearby. This means that the flat will be empty. They could rent it from her. The rent would help her and Geoff with their mortgage. (Serendipity or what!!)

In the meantime, the three of them, Greg, Alison and Katie have recognised the synergy of their businesses. They can cross-refer each other’s clients. Alison will get the early warning of a deal with a prospective bride and groom, she’ll recommend Greg and Katie as photographer and hairstylist respectively and everybody will be happy. Meanwhile Greg and Alison look as if they’ll be living happily ever after. What did John Lennon say about plans? ‘Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans’ or something. Wait and see.

Today’s featured photograph is of the South Stack Lighthouse on Holy Island, off the North coast of Anglesey, North Wales, UK. I took this shot two years ago with my old Pentax K-50 16 MP crop sensor camera using its 18-55 mm f/3.5 to 5.6 kit lens at 18 mm and f/11. The ISO was 100 and the shutter speed 1/125 secs.

We’re off!

I’ve made a start writing Greg and Katie. I don’t mean the couple of chapters that I mentioned yesterday. I’ve decided that I didn’t like the structure I’d planned, so I started again, cannibalising bits of the original chapters and storing some others for later use.

After a brief prologue to establish the theme of wedding photography, Chapter One is a flashback to the childhood of the two main characters – Greg and Katie – in their days at junior school in the mid nineteen eighties. In this chapter we see how Greg is already developing an interest and skills in photography.

Chapter Two, set in 1990 when the two are now fifteen years old, sees them in Sunday School Bible Class with other teenagers discussing the Miners’ Strike. Greg now has a Saturday job in a Wedding Photography shop. Katie is looking forward to meeting her boyfriend Geoff after the class.

Chapter Three moves us rapidly on ten years or so after Greg has graduated and Katie now has her own hairdressing salon. Greg and Tom – Tom owns the Wedding Photography salon – photograph a wedding together. It’s the wedding of Katie and Geoff. During the course of the evening Greg and Katie have time for a chat.

Subsequently, Greg arranges to do some hairstyle photography at Katie’s salon as preliminary work for a hairstyling competition and asks Katie whether she’d model some clothing to help him break into product photography.

Quite a lot of progress today using the new structure – about another 2,500 words. I also enjoyed using Doctor Google to find out about product photography, hairstyling photography and food photography – well, you never know. As an amateur landscape photographer with no experience in any of the above fields, it was fascinating stuff.

Today’s featured photo is of the lake at the Cleveley Mere holiday resort in Lancashire. I took the shot early morning in February, 2017 using a Pentax K3ii 24 MP crop sensor camera coupled with a 16-85 mm 35-5.6 lens at26 mm and f/11. The shutter speed was 1/13 secs and the ISO 100.

Back to the Writing Blocks

Back on October 8th, in my last post about my most recent novel, Sixty Years, I said that I had re-read it and couldn’t spot anything major. I didn’t look at that draft again – until yesterday. With new eyes, I saw whole sections that were incomplete, that I hadn’t fully thought out. I also noticed a number of ‘howler’ errors, such as referring to a boyfriend as a girlfriend, to a vet as a vat, to Norman as Barbara. There were punctuation errors and date errors. I’ve had to spend today correcting these before anybody else does. My usual proof editor is  still busy and likely to be so for a while.

I haven’t spent any time rewriting the Persephone story. The night before I’d intended to start, a whole new storyline occurred to me. It won’t be a full-length novel this time – but longer than a short story, if you see what I mean. It’s about a hairdresser and a wedding photographer. Even then, the time that I’ve spent on it has been restricted by the time I’ve needed to put into writing the photography posts.

Anyway, now that those posts are finished, I should be able to make some progress on my new story. I’ve written a couple  of chapters and I’ll post about those in the next few days.

One more thing to say. Up to now, I’ve been trying to find photographs to use, as featured photos, only ones which have a bearing on the day’s written content. I don’t think that I’ll be able to that for much longer – if at all. It’s not that I’m short of my photos to post – I have a few thousand of those banked. My problem is that, because I’m shielding from Covid-19, I just can’t get out to take bespoke photos. So, for example, writing about this hairdresser and wedding photographer, I have no photos relating to either type of work. I don’t want to use stock photos, because the whole idea of my site was to showcase my own work. I hope, therefore, that anyone reading my posts will forgive my shots having no relation to my writing.

Tomorrow, I’ll make a start.

For the time being, todays photo is one that I took in Aberystwyth, Mid Wales, UK in 2014, while on holiday. I just liked the leading lines. The settings were: ISO 100, shutter speed 1/1600, Aperture f/3.3 and focal length 4.3 mm using a Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ60 compact camera.