Category Archives: Fiction

The End of His Journey

Having slept little during the night, Jane left the campsite hitching a lift back to Cape Town with the crew that had produced their dinner the night before.  She was very concerned at what Eric Duncan had said and really wanted to know what evidence the detective had that made him consider Duncan a murderer.  She boarded the first available flight back to Heathrow.  On arrival, she made an appointment to meet with the detective the next morning.

After offering coffee, tea or whatever Tom Cranston the detective asked: “Well now Ms Anderson, what brings you here today?”  “Actually it’s Mrs Anderson” replied Jane.  She then proceeded to tell him of her relationship with Eric Duncan and about the concerns she had regarding his involvement in his wife’s murder.

“He told me you think him guilty and had vowed to prove it” she continued.

“Yes, that’s true” he detective responded.  “But really I’m no further forward than I was at the time of the murder investigation.”

“He told me you followed him to and around Cape Town the last time he was there.”

“Yes, that’s true also.  I wanted to upset his equilibrium” came the reply.

“And is that why you were at Heathrow again a few days ago?” she asked

“Yes, Mrs Anderson, but you still haven’t told me why you are here.  Did Duncan say anything specific about the murder?”

“Well,” she said “we had both had rather a lot to drink and he wasn’t as careful in what he said as he usually is.  He talked about his wife having had her throat cut from behind, with a kitchen knife.  How would he know where the murderer was standing?

He also said there was little blood splatter which he said is usual when a throat is cut deeply and from behind.  How would he know that?”

“I can only tell you that I am convinced he did murder his wife and to instil in you the need to be very careful around this man.  By the way. Where is Duncan now?” said the detective.

“Somewhere on the way to Victoria Falls, I imagine.  Unless he too, has left the safari; but I don’t suppose he has.

Standing, the detective said “Thank you for coming in today” and handing her a card said, “If you think of anything else please call me”.  Then noting her details, he showed her off the premises.

As soon as she left he went to his computer and searched blood splatter and throat slashing on the web.  Then he went in to see his superior.

At the time of the murder, they had no reason to search Duncan’s home and so hadn’t searched his laptop or the computer he used at the office.  He wanted the Inspector to authorise two search warrants one for Duncan’s home and the other specifically and only for his computer at the solicitors’ office.  The web searches, if indeed Duncan had searched for these particular items, had been made many months ago and probably would have been deleted by now.  But the whiz-kids in their IT department would be able to find anything that had been there.

He then called Jane to find out when Duncan was due back.  It was always better to present the search warrant to the property owner rather than risk a defence team claiming illegal search.  The first warrant, for Duncan’s house, was not specific to the computer but the second one was.  Because they would be dealing with a firm of solicitors, Cranston knew it was particularly important that the search be carried out properly and in accordance with the law.  The warrant would specify the computer and give the reason for the search and the requirement to remove the computer from the premises.  If the solicitors baulked at removing the computer, the police IT team could come to their office to carry out the search.

The Magistrate signed the warrants and Cranston felt elated.  He thought after so many months of inactivity on the case they now had a possible clue.  He was impatient to start but had to wait several days for Duncan’s return.

On that day he waited at the property and as Duncan emerged from the car he presented the search warrant.  Duncan, of course, was livid.  He insisted that nobody entered his house until he had called his solicitor so taking the search warrant from the detective, he made the phone call.  His solicitor assured him that the warrant appeared to be in order and that Duncan should allow the police entry to his house.  So begrudgingly, Duncan did so.

They found little of interest in the house except one officer noticed a clear plastic raincoat hung alongside other outdoor coats.  But it looked out of place and also he thought that something had been wiped off the coat.  Maybe it was just mud but they took it anyway. They left giving Duncan a receipt for the computer and the raincoat.

The next stop was the solicitors’ office.  When they arrived Duncan had already been in touch with the practice manager so they were expected.  Cranston told the manager why they needed to search Duncan’s computer.  The manager told him that he was quite sure there was nothing to be found on the computer but reluctantly agreed that a member of their team could search the computer.  Taking the computer and promising it would be returned as soon as possible they left.

It didn’t take long for the IT team to locate where Duncan had searched the web for both blood splatter and throat slicing.  Duncan foolishly had not cleared these searches from his laptop and in a short time the police had found them.  The raincoat, though it looked clean, showed signs of blood splatter when tested with luminal.  They did not find anything on the solicitors’ computer and so that was returned the next day.

With this information, Cranston thought he had enough to arrest Duncan and charge him with his wife’s murder.  Before doing so, he called Jane Anderson and told her what had happened following her visit.  He thanked her but advised that she would most probably be called as a witness at the trial to attest to what Duncan had said.  Could she come to the station to make a statement just as soon as convenient?  She readily agreed and told Cranston that she had a call from Duncan following the visit of the police to ask her to meet for lunch.  She had refused but said he didn’t sound his usual self.  She thought he was worried at what the police might find.

So Duncan was arrested, Jane breathed easier and Cranston set to work to prove the case.

 

And the last words in this tale must go to Terry Hayes, an English-born Australian screenwriter, producer and author:

“Nobody’s ever been arrested for a murder;
they have only ever been arrested for not planning it properly.” 
Terry Hayes, 1951 –

 

Faraway Places;  It BeginsThe Fickle Finger of Fate; Murderer vs Detective;

What Happens Next? ; Question Time

 

 

 

 

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Question Time

When their flight was called he looked for the detective but didn’t see him anywhere.  If he had just been at the airport to upset him, then he had succeeded.  Because he hadn’t seen or heard from the detective for more than a year he had foolishly thought that he had given up and moved on.  Now he knew better.  How would he ever get this man off his back?

Sitting on the plane he mused over his problems, completely ignoring his companion who knew that the man he saw had upset him more than he let on and so she decided that she would find out just what was the problem. She would wait and choose her time.  Obviously, if they were going to be together for three weeks he couldn’t continue to ignore her.  She wanted to know what the problem was.

After the long flight, they arrived early in the morning in Cape Town.   He checked the arrivals, immigration and baggage carousel but there was no sign of Cranston, the detective.  Hopefully, they had left him behind at Heathrow.

But Jane was upset at his actions on the trip and the fact that she had been almost completely ignored for more than 12 hours.  She wasn’t used to being ignored and being a woman with her own means, she considered leaving him to go on the safari alone while she took off to one of the island resorts to relax in the sunshine.  She had made no commitment to this man and she was pretty angry at his treatment.

Having convinced himself that the detective had stayed behind, he brightened up a little and turned his attention to his companion.  Because he was so self-absorbed he couldn’t understand why she was upset and spent the next few hours convincing her not to leave.  They had both been to Cape Town before and had seen the sights so to placate her, he agreed to spend the rest of the day shopping.

They started at the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront where could be found international and designer shops.  This was a new experience for him.  His wife hadn’t been interested in shopping, nor had she had the money to indulge.  He found following his companion, Jane into these fabulous stores was a great way to take his mind off his problems, and he quite liked carrying the bags with the fancy labels.  He thought how surprised his friends and colleagues would be if they could see him,

He had heard from his Travel Agent that a The Roundhouse a UNESCO Heritage Site was a place to visit and a great place to dine.  So they made their way there to rest after the shopping spree and to enjoy a late lunch,

By the time they arrived back at their hotel she appeared suitably appeased and she decided to let the questions wait for another day.  After an early dinner following what had been a long day, for the first time they retired to a shared room and bed.

The safari began early the next morning and as the days passed they began to relax in each other’s company. He wondered whether he had found a woman with whom to share the rest of his life.  They had many of the same interests, they both loved to travel to exotic places and as she had her own money, neither would be financially dependent on the other.

One night after another long day followed by dinner around a campfire, he decided to ask her if she thought they could be together permanently.  They had had rather more than usual to drink and after he asked the question she replied: “I think so, but you have to tell me why that man at the airport upset you so.”

Again, he responded that he was somebody that he knew in another time and place but this didn’t satisfy her.  So they went to bed with no decision on a shared future.  Later in the night, he awoke to find her sitting looking at him.  He decided to tell her about the detective and how the detective was sure that Duncan had murdered his wife.  Some of the comments led her to wonder whether the detective was in fact, correct.  This totally shocked her and long after he went back to sleep she sat thinking about what to do.

The next morning when he awoke she was gone.

Related posts :

Faraway Places;  It BeginsThe Fickle Finger of Fate; Murderer vs Detective;

What Happens Next?

What Happens Next?

Duncan’s one day in Cape Town was completely ruined by the detective.  Everywhere he went he saw, or thought he saw the man watching him.  It was clear to him that he had been followed to Cape Town and was now being followed around.

He was sure he saw him when the driver stopped at Table Mountain and all during that walk he looked for him.  He was sure he saw him when they stopped for lunch at Constanta Winery and by the time they reached the Wildlife Reserve at the Cape of Good Hope, he only wanted the day to end.

Arriving back at the hotel at the end of the tour, he had an early, solitary dinner and went to his room to try and read his new novel.

The next morning, after a troubled night, when the safari guide picked him up, he was pleased there was no sign of the detective.  Hopefully, he had returned to Sussex.

The Safari was all he had hoped for and more.  After a couple of days of enchantment with the animals, he managed mostly, to forget about the intruder. The days flew by and as he used the new camera he began to take pride in the photographs he was taking.  He had so many to show his friends when he returned home.

At the end of the 14 days trip, he made his way back to Cape Town to overnight before his flight back home.  And once again, the thought that the detective might be waiting for him when he got to the hotel played on his mind.  But there was no sign of him and he began to think that perhaps the detective had given up.

At dinner in his hotel, he introduced himself to a woman who was obviously alone and suggested she join him for a meal.  This was wholly unlike him and he marvelled at his nerve in so doing.  He learned that this woman was recently widowed, and she lived in the UK not far from where he lived.  Having enjoyed a very pleasant evening together, they exchanged phone numbers and departed to their separate rooms.  He didn’t know whether he wanted to see her again although he had enjoyed her company.  But he would wait and see what if anything transpired from this encounter.

The next day he returned to his normal life in Sussex and after a while, he convinced himself that he had indeed, pulled off the perfect murder.

A few months after his return he contacted the woman he had met in Cape Town and there begun a relationship of dinners, theatre outings and such that both seemed very happy with.  No mention of making this a permanent relationship was brought up by either party.

Then, about a year after the Safari and having had no visits from the Police, he began to think of other places he could visit.  Africa had seduced him and he thought he would go back and visit the Victoria Falls.  So a trip to the travel agents had him booked into a tour from Cape Town to the Victoria Falls.  He now considered himself a seasoned traveller and looked forward to the trip.

Having made the decision and the booking he thought how much nicer it would be to have a companion on this trip.  A call to his lady friend confirmed that she would like to accompany him to Africa and so arrangements were made for two people to make the trip instead of one.

The day of departure arrived and again, he had the driver pick him up and on the way to the airport stop to pick up his friend.  They arrived early because this time he knew they could relax in the lounge enjoying a drink and a snack while waiting for their flight to be called.

But as they left the check in counter he saw that detective again.  How had he known he was leaving for Africa on that particular day?  The detective waved a hand at him and then turned away.  He really did need a drink after that brief encounter.

Related Posts
Faraway Places;  It Begins; The Fickle Finger of Fate; Murderer vs Detective

 

Murderer vs Detective

He turned around but the man had gone.  “Why” he asked himself “would he say that and why would he follow me to Cape town?  What did the detective know?””

The driver was impatient wanting to get him to his hotel.  He was in Cape town for only two days after which time he would leave to join the safari.  But his day had been spoilt by the confrontation at the airport.

He arrived at the hotel and once he had checked in, he had his bags taken to his room and then made his way to the bar where he found a comfortable chair in a corner and ordered a large brandy.  Minutes later the waiter returned and without spilling a drop, skilfully put down a drink mat, centred the drink on it and left, only to return almost immediately with a small dish of nuts and a napkin.

The excitement of his trip was now sullied and he felt quite depressed.  What could have made that detective suspicious and was he in Cape town officially or was he just following up on his own?

He had been so very careful.  Looking back to that Sunday afternoon he was sure he had made no mistakes.  He had planned for them to meet those particular friends for a drink after their walk as he knew his wife would leave before him as she was not interested in their chat about trips around the world the other couple had taken.

Earlier in the day, he had stashed a single use raincoat in the cupboard under the stairs so that in the event of blood splatter it wouldn’t be on him  But he had read somewhere that if you stood behind somebody when you slashed their throat the blood splatter would be in front of them.  So the plastic raincoat was just a precaution and he had hung it on the hall stand along with other outdoor coats and hats before the police arrived.

Blood splatter was one of the first things investigators looked at in a bloody murder.  But it was also conceivable that there would be blood on his clothes if he had come in and found his wife’s blood everywhere.

So when the police arrived and took his blood stained clothing for inspection and analysis they found only what was to be expected if he had come home and found her dying.

He wasn’t worried about his fingerprints on the knife as his prints would naturally be on any knife in the block.

The front door being unlocked was accepted as normal as he was coming home after his wife.  The fact that nothing was missing was of concern to the police initially but they apparently came to the conclusion that his arriving home had interrupted the thief who fled through the kitchen door.

After a short time, he had returned to his normal life, doing nothing to attract attention to himself.  So why was the detective convinced that he had killed his wife?

Meantime in another hotel in Cape town, Detective Tom Cranston thought about Eric Duncan and the murder of his wife.  There were so many anomalies – why hadn’t the husband been more upset when he found his wife dying?  He had seemed very controlled for a man in that situation.  He did have blood on his hands and clothes that he said was from holding his wife before he called the police, but is this how the blood had got onto him?  And the knife that was later found in a hedge in the garden next door.  It could very easily have been disposed of before the Police arrived.

He had two days in Cape town has decided to use part of his annual leave to follow Duncan and see if there was anything that would prove he was the murderer.  He didn’t expect to come across anything here, but he would let Duncan see him and so upset him, wondering just how much the detective knew.

Related posts:  Faraway Places;
It Begins
The Fickle Finger of Fate

The Fickle Finger of Fate

On the morning he was due to leave he arose at the usual time.  He ate breakfast, showered and shaved and was ready when the taxi came at noon.

The airport was about an hour away and he had decided to take a taxi rather than use the train (the local station was very close) while being encumbered with luggage.

He was very excited.  At last, the long-awaited trip was beginning.  Arriving at the airport in plenty of time he took a seat in the lounge and opened the new novel he had bought the day before.  He smiled as he considered the book’s title “The Perfect Murder”.  “Well,” he thought.  “I committed the perfect murder.  Obviously, nobody really thinks I was involved or I wouldn’t be on my way to Africa.”

Soon his flight was called and as he entered the plane he saw a familiar face.  He couldn’t put a name to the face but he was sure it was somebody he knew.  Well, he would have time to think about it in the 12 hours’ flight to Cape town.

The steward showed him to his Business Class seat and after taking his jacket and putting his carry-on bag in the overhead locker, he offered a glass of champagne while they waited for the other passengers to board.  He gave no more thought to the man he had seen at the airport and settled down to enjoy the flight.  “This,” he thought “is certainly the way to travel.”  The steward was very attentive and once dinner was over, he made up the lie-flat bed for him.

Having woken and enjoyed a good breakfast he got ready to leave the plane and really start on this adventure.

Waiting in line for immigration he saw the man again.  He was sure that the fellow was looking at him.  Maybe he couldn’t remember where they had met before either and was also trying to place him.  And again, waiting at the carousel for his suitcase he saw the man looking straight at him.

Then after clearing customs, he walked towards the driver displaying his name on a placard and he suddenly remembered where he had seen the man before.  He was one of the first detectives on the scene investigating his wife’s murder.  As he reached his driver, the detective came up close and said “I want you to know that I know you did it and I’ll figure out a way to prove it eventually.  So just keep looking over your shoulder.  I will be right behind you.”

Related posts – Faraway Places.  It Begins

It Begins

He planned his next move in the same meticulous way he had always done.

Several years ago they had taken out insurance naming each other as the beneficiary.  The insurance company had paid his claim after a few months while they waited for the police to declare that he wasn’t a suspect in the murder.  The lump sum they paid was still sitting in his bank account. He thought his decision not to draw on the money to buy a fancy car or another luxury item so as not to draw any attention to himself was the right one.

Apart from the two weeks following his wife’s death, he had taken no time off from the office and so had plenty of holidays owing to him. He decided he would take some time and go on his first trip.  If travel really suited him and he found the faraway places to his liking, he would then resign his job and travel.  He had the insurance money and a fairly large savings account that they had set up for their retirement, so money was not going to be a problem.

Because his wife had had no desire to travel outside the country, he was not an experienced traveller.  So one day on his lunch hour, he visited a travel agent to get some help.  It was decided that a photo safari in Africa would be the way to start his world travels.  Here he would see those large animals that ranged the wide open spaces that he’d always longed to see.  After a few days considering which tour to take he made his choice.

He had played with photography in the past, mostly taking photos of his garden and on the rare occasions, they left home, taking photos of the places they visited.  He was in luck – the local photo club was meeting each week and new members were welcome.  He knew that he could learn much from them in the few weeks before he set off.

But he also knew that the others on the tour would have high-end cameras and so his next move was to a camera shop where he paid (in his mind at least) an inordinate amount for a camera.  He was assured by the helpful assistant that it was “user-friendly” and if he had any problems she “would be very happy to help him.”  This with a somewhat flirtatious smile.

Next stop, new luggage, suitcase and backpack.  Then off to a menswear shop in whose windows he had often peered but into which he had never ventured.  But he left with all the clothes he would need for the safari.

He would need a passport.  This was easily arranged and he paid extra for it to be available urgently and for it to be delivered by courier.

There were no children from the marriage and no close family and so he told his friends and work colleagues that he was going away for a while to be on his own and get over the loss of his wife.  He had an alarm system installed in the house, gave a spare set of keys to his neighbour and eventually, he was ready to set off.

All that remained was the short wait for tickets and vouchers for the tour and for the passport to arrive.

He spent the few days before he left imagining the wild animals he would see, roaming around and living in their own habitat, rather than in a zoo.

To be continued….

Related posts       Faraway Places

Faraway Places

It was 14 months since his wife died. Nobody had been convicted nor had the Police even arrested and charged anyone for the murder.

Initially, of course, he had been considered as the prime suspect.  Close relatives are always checked before anyone else, strangers or friends.  But he had an alibi.  He and his wife had been having a glass of wine with friends that Sunday afternoon.  And as usual, his wife left shortly before him leaving him to finish his wine and conversation with their friends.

The story was that when he got home he found his wife with her neck slashed.  Blood was everywhere but there was no sign of the murder weapon although there was one knife missing from the knife block on the kitchen bench.  The backdoor was unlocked but that was because he was expected home.

There were no clues as to what had happened in the kitchen nor why she had been killed.  Nothing had been taken and the house was in its usual state.

She was a simple person, happy with her lot in life, staying at home looking after the house as any good woman would, at least in her estimation.  Her days were spent in housework, shopping, helping at the library and lunch and coffee with friends in the village.

So with nothing to work on, after a few months the Police moved on to other cases and his life went back almost to normal.

He returned to work as solicitors’ clerk on Monday to Friday; Saturdays were spent in chores around the house and garden and Sundays found him following their practice of a walk followed by a coffee or more often, a glass of wine with friends.  And often on Sunday, he would end up having dinner with one or other of their friends.

So life was almost perfect.  He really didn’t miss his wife and her incessant chatter about friends and family and gossip about the village people.

Now he decided that enough time had passed and so one Sunday, arriving home to an empty house after dinner, he took out his maps and brochures and began to plan his trip.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Well, Guess What?

In March encouraged by a couple of my blogging friends, I decided to continue the story of Maisie Benton-Smythe and her friends.  And guess what – after making that promise and writing a post I completely forgot; that is until April 7 when I did, in fact, continue the story, in this post.

granny-cartoon

 

But procrastination is still alive and well here.  So without making any more promises, I am now continuing the story.

 

 

After Julia left to prepare for dinner with her fiancé, Maisie phoned Juliet.  After discussing their daughter and goddaughter for a few minutes, and agreeing that she was infuriating, they then said they had more pressing things to discuss.

“I think you should call Charles and ask him to come for lunch tomorrow.  It might also be a good idea for Hector to come too.” Offered Juliet.

And so it was agreed.  Maisie made the call and the invitation to lunch was accepted.  Sir Charles also offered to relay the invitation to Sir Hector, who he had no doubt, would accept.  Maisie filled n some more details for Sir Charles in the hope that further investigation would prove the man a fraud.

Sir Charles also suggested that Reggie be at the lunch too and with no idea that Reggie had moved out, added that she could discuss this with Reggie tonight.  Then Reggie, knowing all she knew, could call Sir Charles and some plan of action might be derived.

Maisie rang off and spoke to Juliet “We shall have to get together again before lunch.  Would you please call Imogen and ask her to lunch?  In the meantime, I’ll call Reggie but I don’t know how to broke the subject with him.  He will be furious but at least he will have time to settle down and think the problem through before he meets Charles and Hector at lunch tomorrow.”

Juliet readily agreed to call Imogen but thought it best if they didn’t attend lunch.  Reggie would not like to discuss these matters in front of Maisie’s friends, although he would know soon enough that they knew all about the claims too.

“Alright then, let’s go to that little tearoom in the High Street.  Shall we say 11 am?” with which they ended the conversation and each went off to make the next telephone call.

Maisie was not looking forward to calling her husband.  She knew that he would be angry that an unknown man would be making these claims.  She asked Jackson to bring her a Gin and Tonic and thought it best if she called Sir Reggie before he left for dinner and ask him to come to the house on a matter of some urgency.  She knew he would accept what she had to tell him better in a face to face conversation rather than a telephone call.

Sir Reggie was not at all keen to come to the house to meet with Maisie, but after she stressed that it was an urgent family matter, he reluctantly agreed.

After dinner, Maisie took her bath and then waited in her small sitting room forSir Percy to arrive.  This he did rather later than agreed and having had rather more to drink than she would have liked.

However, he poured himself a rather large whisky and got straight to the point.

“Now what is it, old girl?  You have me quite worried.  What family matter can it be?”

So, Maisie told him about the swarthy gent in the Panama hat, how he had come calling and been sent away while Sir Charles and his friend Sir Hector made some enquiries about him.  She handed him Fotheringham’s card.

She then went on to tell him what Sir Charles had discovered and then told him about Fotheringham’s claims.

“But that’s preposterous” yelled Reggie.  “How does he expect to get away with such nonsense.  We know the Earl would never have had any truck with a native woman.  The man is a charlatan and should be hounded out of the country.”

In time he settled down and in a more subdued tone asked Maisie what had she done.

She explained that Fotheringham had been sent off for a couple of days and that she had asked Sir Charles and Sir Hector to meet them for lunch the next day.  This would give them time for Sir Charles to look further into this matter and also to plan how to deal with it.

Pouring himself another stiff whisky, he said he would spend the night there sleeping in his dressing room and they could discuss this further in the morning over breakfast.  “And I suppose those two friends of yours know all about this as well,” he said.  “Why can you never keep anything to yourself?”

Maisie was quite pleased when he took himself off.  She felt she had handled it as well as she could and that the hours between now and breakfast would give him further time to cool down and seriously think how to deal with this matter.

It was now too late to call Juliet and so she would tell her what transpired with Reggie when they met for coffee the following morning.

 

To be continued…

 

 

 

 

Are You My Mother?

Do you remember way back in January 2011 I started a series on Sandy and her adopted daughter?  At my writing course, I submitted the opening chapter with some slight modifications and among the suggestions made, was to write it in the first person.  So here it is, covering some of her thought and feelings during the unexpected pregnancy and now.

 

As usual, I had a quick look through the emails before starting into the day. Also, as usual, there were several trying to sell me something and so these were all deleted without opening. But there was one that jumped out at me. The subject line read ‘Are You My Mother?’ and for whatever reason, I didn’t send this one to the deleted box.

Without even opening the email I was transported back to a particularly hard time in my life. It was the 1960s – hedonistic time, no responsibilities, Mary Quant, Elvis, fun and free love, with no thoughts given to tomorrow.

I left home at 16, just as soon as I could. I felt locked into my parents’ world. Father took the 7.52 each morning to Paddington and returned on the 5.47 pm. Moher’s Day was filled with good deeds; raising money for poor children, arranging the flowers in church, whist drives or bridge, and book clubs. It was so boring and I couldn’t wait to get away.

I arrived in London where I met up with a friend who had space in her flat for me. Jobs were plentiful and very soon, I was enjoying this good life. That is until a few days after my 17th birthday when I realised I hadn’t had a period for a couple of months. A visit to the doctor confirmed it, I was pregnant. Because of the life we lived, I didn’t know who was the father. The pill was not freely available then. So what was I to do?

Maybe somebody knew of a way to get rid of the unwanted child. I had heard there were people who would perform this operation for cash. But I had no cash and didn’t know anybody from whom I could borrow some and most of all I didn’t know who amongst my friends and acquaintances would know where to find such people.

The alternative was crawling back to my parents. Mother would be ashamed and less than supportive and father would retreat into his study and let mother deal with the situation. No that really wasn’t an alternative.

I passed the church each day on the way to and from work. And that day, walking home after the doctor’s visit I saw the door was open and for the first time in many years, I found myself inside a church. I sat down in a pew at the back and quietly thought about my situation. How could I deal with it all alone?

A quiet voice intruded into my chaotic thoughts “You are troubled, my child. Perhaps I could help?” The speaker was an elderly clergyman who had noticed me sitting at the back of the church, deep in thought. His quiet voice interrupted my thoughts and I burst into tears. I then told him my problems. I had no family to turn to, no money and few friends and I was pregnant.

But of course, the clergyman had heard this tale many times. Young people thinking they were invincible and convinced that nothing bad could happen to them. He told me of a home for unmarried mothers where I could stay until the child was born. I would have to work while I was there in the laundry, kitchen or the garden until my time to give birth was close. I didn’t much like the idea of institutionalised living but really did I have a choice? No, the option being put forward by this clergyman was the better of the two.

The clergyman left me and then returned saying the home was a short walk from the church and so reluctantly I left the sanctuary and the peace it offered me. During the walk, the priest talked quietly “The home is run by the Anglican Sisters of the Community of St John. They will look after you and they will help you make a decision on whether or not to have the baby adopted when the time comes.” “Oh no, “I said. “There is no question of my keeping the child. It will have to be adopted.” We stopped in front of a two storey house that looked no different from the other family homes on the street. There was nothing proclaiming its role and obviously, those involved in running the home did so quietly. On any other day I would have passed it as just another family home.

He rang the bell and the door was quickly opened by a smiling older woman who embraced me and welcomed me to their home. The house was quiet and comforting. In the background was the sound of a baby crying but it didn’t disturb the peace I felt in this house. The priest left me then and I never saw him again.

One day, after the birth of my daughter, I went to the church to thank him but he was no longer there. He had been transferred to a parish miles away.

Life in the home was not hard. I had heard awful stories of the way some people treated unmarried mothers, but the sisters were kind and caring. They didn’t preach to us although we were expected to attend prayers morning and night and to say grace before each meal.

The sisters wore their uniform of long tabards and white wimples, girdles, and caps at all times. This made them very visible in the streets and they were often called upon to help in the community. When they were in the House they still wore their uniforms but without the caps and with aprons to protect their uniforms.

At the beginning of my stay I was placed in the laundry to wash sheets and towels etc. not only for the Home but also for the community as this was a way in which the sisters supplemented funds. it was quite hard and Sister Margret-Angela who was in charge of the laundry was a hard task master. When I was moved from the washing to the ironing area, she would check each piece before it was put into the basket for delivery to its owner. But she was also very quick to notice if any one of the women was in pain or in need of some help.

Then, later on, I was put to work in the kitchen. The meals were simple but planned for women about to give birth. Here I learned the basics of cooking that hadn’t been taught either at school or at home. Mother always had help and she didn’t want me disturbing the running of her house by talking to the help. And here I developed a love for cooking. I found a peace in preparing the vegetables and following the simple recipes put forward. This really has served me well in later life.

And then one day, when I wasn’t really expecting it, Mother Nature took control. Within a short time, I was rushed from the kitchen to the Maternity ward where what seemed like an eternity later, my baby daughter was delivered. I got to hold her for a short time before she was taken away from me and put with the other babies.

Sister Christine came to talk to the mothers individually shortly after they had given birth. She was kind and caring, and in no way tried to influence my decision. But I just knew that I was in no position to care for a child alone and the best option for my lovely baby girl was for her to be adopted.

The process was quick and although I was not involved I was told that baby had been adopted by two loving people who were unable to have children of their own. I had to work hard to stop crying when I was told that my baby was on the way to their home.

I left the home and put the birth of my daughter into the back of my mind.
Later, I met and married Greg and subsequently had a son Ian, whom I love dearly but through the years I had often thought of this daughter. Where she was and how she was living. Was she in a loving family home? Did she have siblings? What was she doing now that she had finished school? So many unanswered questions. But my experiences in those months spent in the care of the caring sister who ran the home convinced me that the couple would have been properly vetted and I just knew they would give my daughter a good home.

Greg, now my ex-husband had been told of the adoption but we had never shared the information with our son agreeing that he need never know.

Still not having opened the email, I went to bed with a million thoughts dancing around my brain. When I awoke the next morning I had no answers and was no closer to making a decision on opening the email.

I presumed that as she had written to me, she would want to meet me. What if we met and we took an instant dislike to each other; then old wounds would have been opened for nothing. What if it was a trick and how had this woman tracked me down anyway.?

But what to do? I remembered having met an ex-Nun at the Women’s Resource Centre when I dropped off some clothes that no longer fit. I’d had a long talk with her and discussed maybe volunteering at the Centre. Perhaps she would be a person to whom I could talk. I quickly finished breakfast and set off for the Women’s Centre before I could change my mind.

 

 

Today’s the Day

Granny on computer

Procrastination – well, it’s alive and well here in Wellington New Zealand.

Every day since I wrote the blog on Continuing the story on 23 March I have planned to live up to the promise.  Good intentions but so much gets in the way.  So two weeks later I am continuing the story.

You will recall that we left our ladies in confusion following the visit of Thomas Anthony William Fotheringham known as Billy AKA the Swarthy Gent in the Panama Hat.  The fellow had arrived at Maisie’s door unannounced a couple of days ago and then had returned at an agreed time, to present Maisie with the claim that he was related to her husband.

So to continue…

As the three friends were quietly contemplating what he had said., the door to the room burst open and there stood Maisie’s daughter Julia.  Knowing her and how she acted, Juliet and Imogen decided to leave and decided they would catch up by telephone later in the day.

“Whatever have you been up to now, Mother?” demanded Julia in that voice so like Reggie’s.  “Do you have any idea how embarrassing it is to hear that one’s mother had been away from home for two nights and nobody knew where?”  Oh, how truly tedious her daughter was, thought Maisie.

“What have you heard that has upset you so much?” enquired Maisie, making no attempt to answer her daughter’s questions.

“Oh Mother,” said Julia.  “I do wish you would act responsibly and see rather less of that Juliet Drummond who is such a bad influence on you.”

Julia had never really liked her mother’s close friend Lady Juliet Drummond, after whom she had been named.  Julia being quite a different person and having a totally different personality to her mother, found nothing attractive about her mother’s closest friend.

She discoursed at length about how unseemly it was for these two women to have been missing over two nights.  Gossip as to what they had been up to was rife and Julia felt strongly that any hint of scandal, should it fall upon her mother, should not be allowed to fall upon her.  To Julia, being in the right ethically and morally was paramount.  Any hint of impropriety was abhorrent to her.

Oh, she liked her mother well enough but she considered her weak and easily led.  It was to her father that she was most drawn.  She shared his puritanical outlook on life.  She looked up to him as a paragon of virtue and hoped that her betrothed, The Hon Toby Grimshaw, would turn out to be as upright as he.

She strongly disapproved of the new trend of women smoking and drinking cocktails in public.  She thought that once a lady was married she should be content to remain at home, running her household so that her husband and children would be totally comfortable in their environment.

Julia was aware that her mother smoked both in public and at home and also drank cocktails every day and was quite convinced that her mother would do neither without the unsavoury influence of Lady Juliet.  She also knew of course, that Juliet had been her mother’s friend and confidant for many years, ever since they had met at school and that nothing would break this friendship.

“You haven’t answered my question” she railed at her mother.  Whatever could you have been doing that you can’t even tell me?  And have you told Father yet?”

Her daughter was unaware that Reggie had moved out to the house in town, so of course, Maisie hadn’t had the opportunity to tell him of her adventures,  She knew that he would be strongly disapproving of her having been to the cinema without a proper escort.  And the only proper escort in his considered opinion would have been himself or one of his brothers.  And she knew how he would react to the rest of those adventures, with supreme disapproval.

So “No I haven’t had the chance to discuss it with your father yet.” She told her irate daughter.  “He has been in town for a few days, but I shall, of course, do so at the first opportunity.”

When Julia looked as if she would then burst into questions about opportunities, Maisie thought it time to change the subject.  She and Reggie hadn’t discussed the issue of telling their offspring about the separation.

In Maisie’s estimation, Julia had always been a difficult child and as she grew up her proselytizing became more marked and to Maisie, very infuriating.  Just how she would react to the news was something Maisie dreaded to even think about.

“Now let’s talk about your engagement and the plans for the wedding, shall we?” asked Maisie.  There followed a pleasant 30 minutes when mother and daughter discussed these plans.  And no thank you, Julia declined the offer of a cocktail when her mother asked Jackson to bring her a Gin and tonic.

And Maisie had more important things to worry about than wedding plans.  She knew her overbearing daughter would arrange everything with little or no input from or discussion with her mother.  But how and when would she tell Reggie about Billy Fotheringham and his claims of relationship?