Liam

By Paul Jamison

Chapter 25

Chris’s viewpoint, continued…

The following morning I woke a little earlier and suddenly remembered that I was going next door to say goodbye to my grandfather. I quickly got out of bed and shot up to the next floor bathroom. I couldn’t wait for the new one to be ready so all I’d have to do was cross the hallway. I showered quickly, returned to my room to get ready for school and then headed down to the kitchen. There was no one else there yet. So I dumped my backpack and slipped out of the kitchen door and across to Commander Barnes’s backdoor opposite and knocked. After a few seconds the door was opened by my granddad.

“Mornin’ Chris. Come on in out of the cold.”

“Hi,” I replied, as I went in closing the kitchen door behind me.

“Good morning, Chris,” Commander Barnes said from his seat at their table. “What do you normally have for breakfast?”

“Hello, Commander. Oh, just tea, toast’n juice, usually.”

“That’s easy. Come and help yourself,” he replied indicating a full toast rack ready on the table with a carton of juice and a pot of tea next to it. He handed me a mug and so I poured myself some tea, helped myself to milk and sugar and buttered two slices of toast and added some marmalade.

“What time do you all leave for school?” Granddad asked.

“About half eight,” I replied and added “Registration’s at nine.”

“Oh, so we’ve about twenty minutes then,” Granddad commented after glancing at the kitchen clock.

“What’s the school play this year?” he asked.

“It’s Guys n’ Dolls. I’m in the chorus,” I replied.

“A musical. I didn’t know you could sing and dance as well,” Granddad said.

“Well, I can sing a bit, but don’t know about dance. I’ve managed to learn the steps to the numbers I’m in though,” I replied between munching my toast.

“You’re not having much in the way of Christmas presents this year. So I thought I’d ask you if there was anything that your mum had planned or that you really need that I could get for you,” Granddad said.

I gulped, as the realisation of what Granddad had just said sunk in and then I answered

“I’d asked Mum for a laptop, but she said she’d have to see if that was possible. I do need a new computer as the one at our house is pretty old. Mum was planning to change it for a new one. She hadn’t decided what to get though,” I explained.

“Oh, I see, well, I don’t know anything at all about computers and wouldn’t know where or what to get you,” Granddad replied.

“Shouldn’t be too difficult, Rory. I got Paul to build one for William for his last birthday. It’s rather good from what I’ve heard from him since,” Commander Barnes interrupted.

I’d finished my toast and looked at my watch. I’d still got a few minutes before I needed to be back with the others for the lift to school. Granddad noticed me looking at my watch and said

“Is it time to go already? I really hope I’ll see you from time to time, now you’re all that’s left of our family. I’ll see what can be done for you for Christmas. Bye, lad.”

I got up and went over to him. He took my hand and shook it firmly as I said

“Bye, Granddad and thanks for everything… you know letting me stay here and all that.”

“Just do your best lad. That’s all I ask,” he said, letting go of my hand and I made my way to the door.

“Bye, Chris, we’ll see you later I expect,” Commander Barnes said and smiled at me as I made to go, closing their kitchen door behind me and crossing back over to our kitchen to wait for our lift with the others.

* * *

Paul’s viewpoint…

The boys had just left for school when there was a knock on the back door. I opened it and found Frank and Rory outside.

“Come in, come in. It’s too cold to wait, you know. Just knock and come on in, okay” I said.

“Fair enough,” Frank replied and added “We want to talk to you about computers. It’d appear that young Chris’d been hoping for a laptop one from his mother for Christmas… so, unless anyone’s found it hidden in the house, that’s not going to happen now and Rory was going to see what could be done. I simply suggested he had a word with you, seeing neither of us’re that up on the latest stuff.”

“Yes, well, he won’t be the only lad getting a laptop then. We had money and instructions from New Zealand to get Liam one. It’s hidden in our wardrobe right now.”

“How much was it?” Rory asked.

“I got a good deal on a dual-core Asus™. It came to 389.95.  It has the latest operating system and there was a free carry bag included,” I explained.

“I haven’t understood a word of that,” Rory admitted and continued “In your opinion is it a good one for his schoolwork?”

“Yes, easily so. It’s plenty good enough for Liam’s A levels. So it is more than capable of handling anything Chris needs to do,” I explained.

“It seems an awful lot of money to spend on a fourteen year old,” Rory paused deep in thought, then continued “He’d better have one. If I write you a cheque now, would you be able to attend to that as I have no earthly idea how to go about buying one of those things?” he explained.

“Yes. Let me go online now and deal with it. Do you have a credit or debit card yourself Rory?” I asked.

“Yes, I’ve one with me in case of emergencies. I don’t use it very much,” he answered.

I quickly turned on my laptop that was on the kitchen table as I’d intended to see to some emails and last minute things myself that morning. A minute or two later I was on my favourite site checking for availability. I scrolled through the offers and found the one that I’d got a week before for Liam.

“They have the same one on offer as Liam’s with the free carry bag,” I said.

“Then get it while we can,” Rory said, taking out his card.

I nodded, and sat down and went through the ordering procedure making the payment with Rory’s card. I then went to our email program and sent the confirmation emails to our printer.

“I’ll just go and get the printed confirmations for you to keep,” I explained as I got up and quickly went into the sitting room, where we’d moved the printer to when the work on the new bathroom started. Once the stuff had printed out, I took the copies back and gave them to Rory.

“We’ll hide it until Christmas Day,” I explained. “Do you want to include a card or message with it?” I asked.

“Yes, if that’s possible. I didn’t come prepared though,” Rory admitted.

“I’ve a box of spare Christmas cards. Do you want to choose one of those and put your own message in it? We’ll put it inside before we wrap it, okay?”

“Please, if it’s not too much trouble,” Rory answered.

I was already half way out of the door to go and get the box and so just nodded and hurried to our room returning with a box of Christmas cards which I put on the table and left Rory to look through them while I made us all a coffee.

He had just finished writing in the card and was putting it in the envelope as I put the three coffees onto the table and sat down myself. Once sealed and with Chris’s name on the envelope I took the card, making a mental note to hide it away as soon as we were done.

“When’ve you to head off?” I asked.

Rory glanced at his watch. “I’m all ready and we’ve about an hour to get to the station,” he replied.

“That’s plenty. It should only take a little over twenty minutes at most,” I suggested.

“Yes, we’ll head off as soon as we’re finished here,” Frank said.

“I really have to thank you and of course Rick for all that you’ve done for Chris since the accident happened, and even more so for what you’ve taken on on my behalf. Something that you seem to’ve got so well organised here, but I’d’ve not known where to begin,” Rory said.

“We were pleased to be able to help. It’s not been hard to want to take Chris on. As you can see, he’s an amiable boy, whom it’s been nothing but a pleasure to help through this difficult time. Neither of us can see any major difficulty in seeing him through until he can make his own way,” I replied.

“Still, on top of the two you already have?” Rory questioned.

“They’ve been fine, the pair of them. It’s actually been very rewarding having a houseful of young people for the last few months. Yes, we’ve lost a little of our previous spontaneity in being able to just up and go off somewhere, or do something. We’ve to consider the boys as well now. But I think we’ve managed to adjust to it all and so far it’s working well.”

“Oh, in many ways you can’t see, Paul,” Frank said.

“Well, rather you then me. I have to say that. I don’t know that I could’ve managed it at all, to be honest. I’ll be for ever in your debt over this,” Rory said.

“Well, thank you for that and we’ll do our best for you and for Chris,” I replied.

At that Rory and Frank got up to leave, but Rory turned to add

“Many thanks too for organising that computer thingy. I’m totally out of my depth there. I’d just got whatever the store told me was good. You seem to know what’s what with these things.”

“That’s no problem. He’ll be just fine with that one. Has Chris really no other living family?”

“Not on our side. We’ve no knowledge of his paternal side at all. So who knows?” Rory shrugged his shoulder as he spoke.

I nodded and showed them both out. They went over to Frank’s car, got in and after a few moments they drove off to the station. I went back into the house and just wondered a little about the slightly strange experience meeting Rory Griffin had proved to be. True, he’d done the sensible thing in the end, but from what motives? To maintain his own ease of life, for Chris’s best interests, or a little bit of both? I really wasn’t sure at all.

I went back inside and opened my emails again and quickly replied to one from Jeremy Russell confirming that I’d ordered and had received delivery of the laptop computer for Liam’s Christmas present.

Then I went upstairs to see how Mr Clarke was getting on, taking him a mug of tea as I did. On getting to the door of the new shower room I was amazed to see that it looked almost complete. Mr Clarke was busy half tiling the walls down to the newly laid tiled floor and it was really looking finished.

“Some tea for you,” I said and added “So nearly there then?”

“Not much more in here,” he replied and continued “It’s all connected and working. We’ve only the tiling to finish. We’ve put three coats of bathroom emulsion on the ceiling and walls, but you’ll have to finish off the walls yourself when you’ve decided on a colour scheme.”

“Oh, it’s staying white in here. The colour’s in the tiling,” I explained.

“Oh, right, that’s easy then the paint job’s finished in here. I’ve just to grout and wash off the tiles as soon as I’m done and they’re set, which’ll be by tomorrow. Don’t use the shower until after the weekend though. I want all the cement fully set before you go spraying water about. I’ll be finishing the woodwork in the old bathroom this afternoon and tomorrow afternoon, now that the new plaster’s gone off nicely. Have you chosen final colours for there yet?

“Yes, we have. White gloss woodwork, that’s skirting boards, door, architraves and window cills and a white ceiling. For the walls we’ve chosen a yellow called babouche from Farrow & Ball’s range. I’ve got a five litre tub of that in the garage ready for you,” I replied.

“Good, let’s have that and we’ll get it on for you. We’ve put new power sockets into the room where you asked for them. Being a bathroom it didn’t have any before, of course, but as there’s cabling going under the floorboards we added those outlets to the circuit, no problem,” Mr Clarke replied.

 “That’s really good, thank you. Could I ask you to fit a corded curtain rail in that room as well?” I asked.

“Yes, that’s no problem. I’ll measure up before I go this evening and collect one on my way in tomorrow morning, so that’ll be up and ready for you. I think we’ll be done by Friday, if everything goes well.”

“That’s good. I think that’s all, thanks,” I said and went back downstairs leaving Mr Clarke to carry on. I was thinking that if Chris’s new room could be ready by Friday evening we could even get it furnished over the weekend and he could be installed in his own room in time for Christmas. With that in mind I went online to check the availability of the furniture that we’d bought for the other two and finding it all in stock made an online purchase with a ‘collect from store’ option on the delivery. I then made a note to ask Chris what sort of bed he wanted as we did not have one for him. I recalled having already asked him about what he wanted to keep from his old room before, but for the life of me couldn’t remember what he’d said. I checked my watch and looked at the school timetable that Will had stuck up on the fridge door that morning, together with the school holiday list. They’d all be between periods right then. I quickly texted Chris about the bed, and shortly got the reply that he’d like to have the same as Will and Liam had in their rooms. I immediately recalled that’s what he’d said when we previously asked about it.

I then went back online and ordered a new bed to be delivered early the following week. That all done, I tidied away and went into work myself. I went via the precinct and picked up two sets of bed linen and towels for Chris as well as a new duvet and two covers. As soon as I’d piled all the stuff into the boot of my car, I went back into the shopping precinct to a carpet shop we’d used before very satisfactorily and made a choice to go with the room colours. I gave the assistant the measurements and then luckily I managed to arrange for a fitting date during the next week, to be confirmed as soon as I knew Mr Clarke was completely finished. After settling that bill I went over to the department store and chose a set of ready made curtains that would look good with everything else. Then feeling pretty pleased with all I’d managed to sort out, I made my way into work. Once there, I got stuck into the rest of my scheduling which, if I wanted to have time off over the Christmas break, I really had to have done by the time I left for home that evening.

* * *

Chris’s viewpoint…

It was almost nine that evening when Craig and I got back to our road and I said thank you and goodbye to Mrs Sutherland who had brought us home after the last school play rehearsals. I was utterly knackered, having had just a sandwich to eat since lunch. Lunch had been the usual lousy mystery meat casserole with veggies. One thing I’d noticed since moving was the food at home was so very much better than when it was just Mum and me.  We did a lot of ‘ping’ meals for convenience during the week. I had homework and often Mum was tired from work and we did not feel like getting into food preparation or waiting for it to cook. I’d just come in through the back door when Liam called out to me from the sitting room.

“Hey, Chris, come here. You’re just in time.”

“Okay,” I replied, wondering as I did just what I was ‘just in time’ for, as I went though to the sitting room to find everyone setting up for a sort of family picture.

“Oh, I need to change out of school stuff. I won’t be a minute,” I said as I quickly exited the room.

“Hurry up then,” Liam called out me as I hurried upstairs.

As soon as I was in my room I shed my school uniform as fast as I could and pulling on some jeans and a top scooted back down to the sitting room. By then all was set up and Liam said

“Sit here on the sofa, Chris. I want to send a picture of us all to my dad in my card,” he explained.

“It won’t get there in time for Christmas; airmail post last day was over a week ago. I saw it on TV,” I replied.

“I’m using an e-card,” Liam explained. So that won’t matter.

I nodded and sat down next to Will while Liam and Rick checked the view and set off the camera that they had set up on a tripod. They quickly took their places and we waited the few seconds until the flash went off and the picture was taken. We did it a couple more times and Will made a silly face on one. I giggled, so I suppose Liam would not be using that one.

“Everything go okay, Chris?” Paul asked me.

“Yeah, last minute nerves and we fluffed about as usual,” I replied.

“Have you had anything to eat tonight?” Paul added.

“Only a sandwich,” I replied.

“Oh, you must be starving,” he said as he quickly got up and headed towards the kitchen. “Come and let’s see what we’ve got that I can do quickly for you.”

I followed Paul into the kitchen and he found a portion of pie which he could heat up and he added some beans and frozen chips. A few minutes later I was tucking into my food when Will came in to make himself a brew.

“Want a tea or anything?” he asked casually, as he filled the kettle.

“Yes, please,” I replied. “I’ve had nothing since after school. It’s been all hectic tonight,” I explained.

“Is it going to be a good show?” Will asked and added “I’ve not been to any before.”

“Really?” I replied. “This one’s been the best. I was in last year’s… but we’ve worked loads harder this time and it certainly sounds good. It’s much better actually. Hope you’ll like it anyway.”

“Dad’s got tickets, so I s’pose it’ll be okay. We’ll all be looking out for you and Craig anyway and I expect we’ll all cheer you at the end.”

“Thanks, that’s always fun,” I replied as Will handed me a mug of tea and then went back to the sitting room with his own.

I finished the meal Paul had done for me and after putting the dirty crocks into the dishwasher I joined the others in the sitting room and watched TV for a bit. It was good not having any more homework, especially with the show for the next two nights and then we break up for the Christmas holidays for two whole weeks off school. I’d have time then to get my new room set up how I wanted it. That was something I was really looking forward to doing.

* * *

Liam’s viewpoint…

The next couple of days rushed by in a flurry of end of term activities, not that I was actually involved much, but Craig and Chris were in the school production. We all went to see it on the last night and the show was really very good indeed. There was a short cast party afterwards backstage and both of them stayed for that. Chris got home very late after he’d been dropped off by Mrs. Sutherland again. It was now the last day of term and we would break up at two thirty. The last two set periods had been scrapped.

Mrs Naylor was doing the school run that day and brought us back. Justin was complaining loudly that he’d got to go away to visit his grandparents over Christmas and wouldn’t be back until late on Boxing Day. He wasn’t amused. Chris was very quiet in the car on the way home and said nothing at all apart from joining us when we thanked Mrs Naylor for the ride home.

I’d just said goodbye to Craig and he and Jamie’d headed off to their house and I followed Will and Chris into the kitchen to see Chris sat at the table and Will making tea.

“Want one?” Will asked me as I shut the door behind me.

“Yeah, please. Is there anything to eat?” I asked.

“Biscuits, I expect,” Will replied.

“No, there’s a packet of crumpets in the fridge. I saw them yesterday. We could have those,” Chris interrupted.

“What? You saw a full pack of crumpets yesterday and didn’t tell us?” Will laughed as he opened the fridge and took the pack out. There’s a dozen here, two each, okay?” he asked.

Chris grinned and I said “Yeah, that’s fine for now.”

“I’m going to change out of my school uniform. Don’t eat mine, will you?” I said as I picked up my backpack and went off to my room. I really wanted to send an email to my dad and to see if there was any new news from him. That had all taken a bit of a back seat while all the stuff with Chris and his mum had been going on. I quickly changed and made a mental note to ask Rick or Paul about dry cleaning our uniforms and as soon as I’d changed into my jeans and top I turned on my computer and started back downstairs to get my tea and crumpets. It would take a good five minutes for my old machine to boot itself up… Still, I had a lot to thank it for because if it hadn’t gone wrong back in the summer, I’d not have got to know Will, Jus, Paul and Rick as I did and I might have been stuck with my mother with her mad ideas and all those rows and I’d not be in the happy place I was now.

“Here’s your two,” Will said, as he pushed a plate of two freshly toasted crumpets across the table towards me.

“Thanks,” I said, as I picked up a knife and spread butter over the top and watched as it melted and seeped down the little holes that made crumpets so utterly delicious.

Just then the builder Mr Clarke appeared at the kitchen door and said

“Would you be good enough to let Mr Frost know that we’re back in the morning early to do the last coat of paint in the old bathroom and then that’s it, we’re all done.”

“Err… yes, sure, I’ll tell him as soon as he’s home. Thanks,” I said.

Chris got up and said

“May I see the room?”

“Yes, you can look in, but no touching any of the woodwork, or walls please. They’re still not fully dry yet, okay?”

“Okay, Mr Clarke,” we all said as we trooped up the stairs to go and see Chris’s new room. Mr Clarke nodded and went out to his van and drove off as we did so.

Chris carefully opened the door and looked in. It was quite dark outside by then and we couldn’t see very much of the room with just the hallway light. So I carefully switched on the light without touching the wall and we all went in

“It’s huge,” Will said.

“It’s just there’s nothing in here at the moment so it’s bound to look bigger,” I said.

“Uh… I s’pose so,” he replied.

“It’s just brilliant. I love the colour,” Chris said and then added “Paul showed me the colour chart, but I couldn’t quite imagine it till now when it’s all up on the walls,”

“It’s quite bold, isn’t it?” Will said.

“Yeah,” I replied and added “but it needs it for the pictures and things I want to have and I really hate blues and greens,” I explained.

“What’s the new shower room like? Has anyone looked yet?” I asked.

“Dunno,” Will said. “Is that ready as well?”

“We can have a quick look, but it can’t be used till someone says so, okay” I said.  As we turned and went out of Chris’s new room I switched off the light and we crossed the hallway to go into the shower room. I pulled the light cord and we saw that everything seemed completely finished.

“Wow, this looks all ready to use,” I said.

“Grouting and tiles might not be set yet,” Will said. “We’d better not walk all over everything till they say it’s okay to. I remember when they did my dads one, it was a few days before it was all right to use.”

We quickly left and all went back downstairs.

“That’s it, a full two weeks off. Anyone got any holiday work to do for school?” Will asked.

“Yeah, a reading list as long as your arm,” I replied.

“Me too,” Chris said.

“Are you working at Boots till Christmas?” Will asked me.

“Yes, every weekday till Christmas Eve, ten till four. I need the money,” I replied.

“If I give you a list and the money, can you get some stuff I need for presents, please, Liam?” Will asked.

“Yeah, sure, give me the list before tomorrow breakfast and I’ll price it up for you,” I replied.

Will nodded and turning to Chris said “So what do you want for Christmas?”

“Not really thought about it. Granddad said he’d be getting me something. I’ve no money now to get anything as what my mum gave me each week for school’s run out now. Paul gave me some extra this week for lunches and stuff… but that’s all gone now,” Chris replied.

“Don’t worry. You’ll be set up on a monthly allowance like the rest of us get, I expect. You’ve got a bank account and ATM card, haven’t you?” I asked Chris.

“Yeah, I’ve had one since I went to the grammar. It’s just easier for me to get my money that way,” Chris explained.

“That’s true. My dad often forgot and I had to borrow sometimes ‘cos he’d no cash in the house. It’s been fine since it goes into the bank for me. We could do with an ATM in the school cafeteria to be honest,” I said.

 “I bet they won’t ever have one though. That would be too useful,” Will laughed. “I’m going over to see my dad. I’ll be back at suppertime, all right,”

“Yeah, sure,” I replied and added “I’m going to my room to do some emailing. See you guys later.” I put my mug and plate in the dishwasher and headed away to my room.

Once there I opened up my email programme and started to compose a Christmas email to my dad. I had just got set up when an email arrived. I quickly checked and found it was from him. So I paused to read what he’d sent before writing to him.

From:  jeremy_russell@fastmail.net

To:  swimmerboy@fastmail.net


Dear Liam,

I expect you will have broken up from school when you get this. Paul told me in his last email that you finished today for the two weeks school holidays.

Thank you for your last email. It sounds as if young Chris has found the right place to be with you guys. It must have devastated him that night when he was told his mum had not made it through surgery. I’m sure you guys will all rally round him and he’ll have a good Christmas and will be much more settled before having to face school again in the New Year.

I have sent you a Christmas present and am hoping that it is just what you would like. I did get some help there from Rick and Paul and so I’m pretty sure it’s along the right lines. Michael has had to move home as his old place got badly damaged by the quake. I have been lucky. This flat and my office have all escaped anything major. Michael and I are going on holiday early on December 23rd for just over two weeks. Keep sending emails as I will check from time to time and reply to any news that you have.

If I don’t get time to send anything more before Christmas, I hope that you guys all have a good time. Paul’s been telling me that you’ll be having a house full on Christmas Day for the traditional meal. That’s something I’ve not had since I left the UK. Can’t say I’ve missed it really as it is of course the middle of our summer. So roast turkey and all that stuffing doesn’t really seem to fit in with our summer holidays.

Looking forward to hearing from you

Have a Good Christmas,

 

 Love, Dad

 

I read the email through again and then went back to the one I’d started when my dad’s email had arrived.

 

From:  swimmerboy@fastmail.net

To:  jeremy_russell@fastmail.net  


Dear Dad,

 

I just got your email as I was starting to write this one. I was so relieved when I heard that you were okay, though, after we all saw news of that earthquake on TV. I’m really sorry about Michael having to move. What a hassle. I had to do that in a hurry too and it wasn’t much fun. I can sympathise with him over that.

Yes you are right. We were all pleased that Chris was going to be allowed to stay with us. I’d have hated having to move away to somewhere I had no friends and didn’t even speak the same language… lol. His new room is almost ready and he has a lovely new bathroom all to himself, lucky bugger… Oooops… sorry. So, by Christmas he’ll all be sorted out as new stuff for his room gets here next week hopefully.

We all took a family picture. So I am attaching it for you. On the sofa it’s Chris, me and then Will and stood behind are Paul then Rick. Hope you like it.

Paul says I’m to get an allowance now too. I’d been getting by with my Saturday job money and was managing quite well. But I’d like to give that up at Christmas so I’ll have more time to be with Craig this next year.

Need to give some proper thought to what college or if I can even go. You might have seen that the new government is going hard on students and the fees could triple. I don’t think my course will, but it’s going to be double what it might have been and I don’t think granddad’s money’s going to be anything like enough. Not that I actually know the current total anyway. It’s a bit of a worry actually. Can we talk about that after you’re back from your holiday? Oh, by the way have a good time with Michael and don’t do anything too bad… giggle. I shall be thinking of you lazing on the beach when we are throwing snowballs on Christmas morning!

 

Love, Liam

 

I attached the picture that we’d all taken earlier and clicked on ‘send’. Then I sorted out my school backpack and put stuff away in my cupboard that I’d not need till next term and then I got my school blazer and trousers ready to take into town to get dry cleaned as soon as I could.

Once all that was out of the way I got out the present I’d bought for Craig and set about wrapping it up. I did the little gift tag and then tucked it away in my wardrobe behind my sweaters so it wouldn’t be seen if Craig came round before Christmas Day - which he surely would - and I wanted it to be a surprise.

I’d just done all that when Will thumped on my door and loudly exclaimed

“Supper’s ready, Liam.”

 “I’m coming, thanks,” I called back and left my room to follow Will down to the kitchen to eat.

* * * 

Meanwhile in West Yorkshire

 Caroline Ashton stepped down from the inter-city train seconds after it had drawn to a halt at Wakefield Westgate. It was almost a quarter to four and the journey had taken a little over three hours twenty minutes. Caroline was very tired, but had a feeling that a new and good opportunity was about to open for her.

 As she gathered her belongings together and set off for the taxi rank on the station forecourt she thought through what had been an amazing morning. In fact nothing else had been occupying her mind for most of the long journey home and the book she’d brought with her to pass the time was barely read. The job was one she really hoped she might get. The work was varied and very interesting, but one question had raised issues and she knew she’d have to mention it to Marcus when they could talk. She now was very clear why Mr. E had recommended she should apply for this position. She felt her experience and attitudes ideally placed her to be favourably considered, she thought to herself as she sat back in the taxi taking her to the Selby’s where she would collect Marcus, thank the Selby’s for helping out at such short notice and head for home.

 Caroline glanced out of the taxi window and saw the familiar Grammar school buildings. There would be an awful lot to do if the position was offered, not least find a new school of equivalent status for Marcus. Though, from what had been discussed at the interview and it had indeed been a lot longer and more thorough than she had imagined, Caroline was glad she’d taken the time to research the firm thoroughly beforehand. There had been no surprises in the formal questions whatsoever. One of the more informal questions caught her on the back foot, but she very quickly took it in her stride and her answer seemed to satisfy in every way. There was also mention of a lot of assistance with any move, if the position were to be offered to her.

 The taxi drew up outside the Selbys’ home and Caroline paid off the driver and asked for a receipt. They had been most insistent on covering all her travel expenses as long as valid receipts were produced, a standard practice of course. She then walked up the path and rang the front door bell. Within a few seconds Marcus and Dougie had answered the door and she had gone inside.

 “How’d it all go, Mum,” Marcus excitedly asked while Dougie looked on.

 “It all went very well, thank you,” his mother replied. “But we won’t talk now and overstay our welcome. I must just thank your mother, Dougie, for having Marcus at such sort notice and then we’d better be off home,” she explained.

 “That’s okay,” Dougie replied and added “Mum’s in the kitchen, she thought you might like to stay for supper?”

 “Oh, no, we couldn’t trouble you any further, but thank you for offering,” Caroline quickly responded as Mrs Selby came into the hallway from the kitchen.

 “Caroline, how was the trip?” Mrs Selby asked.

“Tiring, no, exhausting, but I think it was well worth it. I’m so grateful for your having Marcus last night,” Caroline replied and added “Marcus, are you ready? We really must be going home. I need a nice long soak in the tub and then some food.”

“You’re both very welcome to stay for supper. We have plenty,” Mrs Selby said.

“Thanks, but I couldn’t impose any further and we’ve lots to do. I’m really most grateful,” Caroline said as she passed a wrapped bottle of wine to Mrs Selby and added “Enjoy this with your supper.”

“Oh, you shouldn’t have. There was no need,” Mrs Selby protested as she took the wine and opened the bag. Taking it out she added “But this’ll go very well with the beef casserole I have in the oven. Thank you Caroline.”

Marcus re-appeared with his overnight bag and after a cursory “bye, seeya,” to Dougie he followed his mother out of the house. It was but a short five minute walk along the street and across one more before they reached their small block of flats. Once inside Caroline put her case and bag in the hallway and going into the sitting room after turning on the lights and switching the heating back to normal she sat down on the sofa and called out to Marcus and said

“Marcus, please put the kettle on and make us some tea. I need a cup badly and I’m sure you want to know all about the trip, but I’m not telling you anything till I’ve had one.”

“Okay, Mum. Yes, I definitely want to know everything.”

 

 

End of Chapter 25

 Another chapter completed. I am sorry about the delay but there have been 'family matters' to attend to and they have taken all my time and effort for several weeks ... I am very much hoping to get back into the swing of things these coming weeks...  Many thanks for all of your emails. I believe I am now up to date on replying to those.

Paul Jamison