A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned one of my favourite places in London – Hampstead Lido (Parliament Hill Lido), which is an incredibly lush experience on a hot summer’s day.
So when I saw the writing prompt fromSarah Elizabeth Moore, I thought I would share with you my favourite place for wild swimming – Hampstead Ponds!
The whole of Hampstead Heath brings a real mix of memories to me. Many good and some devestating. I wrote about the conflicting feelings and memories I have in a post called: Memories…Letting The Happy Ones Dominate.
I featured my memories of an evening I spent with friends a few days before I was attacked in another post last year. This is an excerpt from it which will tell you about Hampstead Ponds:
I used to meet friends every Thursday for an intensive keep-fit boot-camp. Normally we would run down to a local cricket pitch, where the class would start. We would run sprints, and do squats and leapfrogs and all sorts of different exercises. But this night was different. One of the lads was leaving London to move abroad as he was engaged to be married. So we were going to have the boot-camp at a different location – Hampstead Heath.
We drove to Hampstead Heath. We ran from the Highgate side of the Heath over to the Hampstead side. When we reached the Hampstead Ponds for mixed bathers (there are men only and women only ponds too), we stripped our running clothes off and all of us had our swimming costumes on. We jumped into the water and swam a couple of circuits around the pond. There was a bit of splashing each other too. There was hardly anyone else there at that time so we weren’t annoying anyone.
Afterwards, we put our running clothes on over our swimming costumes, and then ran back over to the Highgate side of the Heath. There we found a grassy spot and the guy who took the class shouted out some instructions which we followed, press-ups, squats, leap frogs and stretches.
Two of our friends (a married couple) had a VW Camper Van. So we all got changed in the back of the van. The girls went first, we had to take our damp clothes off and have a quick dry off and put on our warm dry clothes. Then it was the lad’s turn to change. Once we had all changed, we walked up the hill so we could have a goodbye drink with our friend who was moving abroad for his wedding.
I loved that evening. My hair was slimy and smelt like ducks afterwards. But I loved it, and I am so glad that is one of my happy memories, just a few days before I was attacked.
Any other time, I might have been able to contemplate the subject of “soul mates” and write about it. But you find me at a bit of disadvantage this week.
I had two dates with a really nice man within the space of a week. He ticks all the boxes. He bought me gifts. He has been kind, courteous, all the lovely manners you hope for in a man. He seems down to earth, hard-working (been in the same job for twenty years!) faithful, honest, sensible…he is a really nice man.
Yet after I said goodbye to him after our second date, I walked home in tears. It was a beautifully sunny day and the sky was blue. I looked up at planes stretching across the sky leaving white chemtrails and wished that I was on one of them. I wish I could walk to my local underground station and swipe my Oyster card and board a train that would take me to Adelaide, Australia. I wish it would take me to exactly where Goldfinch is.
I just need him to hold me close for a while, maybe just a few minutes, maybe a few hours, I don’t know, but just long enough to make it all better. And then…because I know there is a lot that he needs to be getting on with, I would board the train again and return to London until next time.
I really don’t know what to say about the subject of soul mates…
…all I know, is that I feel there is only one person who I want to hold me tight and make everything better.
Maybe another time I would have something more interesting to say on the subject of “soul mates”.
But this week, I am just grieving the loss of someone who has made me love him with my whole heart, my whole mind, my whole soul…and who is now not here. Yet…he still has my mind, heart and soul.
Do you have more to say on the subject of “soul mates” than I do? Please feel free to write a post and link it to Sarah Elizabeth Moore’s original writing prompt post:
I have come to appreciate the rain. I would mostly claim to love it, although I hate what it has done to some of my shoes!
Growing up in England, I know a lot about rain. I have umbrellas a plenty – one in each bag that I use regularly. I also have a mini-umbrella hanging from my front door latch, so I can grab it on my way out if I am going somewhere without a bag (which is rare – I am almost always lugging numerous bags around with me).
The only thing I don’t really like about the rain is that it often means grey overcast skies. I like blue skies. I grew up in the north west of England and for a long time everything seemed so very grey. Grey pre-fab housing estates. Grey pavements and roads. Grey school uniforms. Grey cloudy skies. Grey grey grey.
However, after my first holiday in a hotter country which was dry, and had orange sand everywhere and very little green and hardly any flowers. I came back to England and suddenly saw not grey, but green everywhere. I realized that for so long I had been seeing grey, but there was abundant green all year round. It took me a while to realize how gorgeous England is because of all the rain that comes our way.
I grew in appreciation for the rain and I started to realize that the more rain there was, the more lush was the summer. The more rain, the more beautiful and colourful the flowers. I love what the rain does to our gardens, to the parks, to the countryside. It certainly does make England extra pretty and very lush at times.
I remember reading an article about how many countries have to conserve water carefully. I feel bad admitting it, but hardly anyone thinks about conserving water in England (except during a rare hose-pipe ban) because there seems to be an abundance of it. Although, this is probably an area where Brits do need a bit more education.
There are times when I have been all dressed up and on my way to a special event when the rain has of course been inconvenient. I have had had a few disasters.
There are times when my sister’s village in North Wales is cut off because both of the bridges either side of town are flooded. As children, we sometimes found that our route to school was flooded, with as much as six feet of water pooled in the underpass under the dual carriage way that separated us from school. That meant either walking along the roadside (which had no pavement) next to cars going at 70mph, or trying to go a longer way round and hope that other underpasses were not as badly flooded.
Of course when I am wearing appropriate footwear, puddles are a completely different matter!
Living in England, I am used to rain! I have not let the rain interfere with my plans too much. I am a walker. I have walked mile after mile in pouring rain – for fun! So long as I am wearing good waterproofs, the rain does not bother me at all. But it’s all about wearing the right gear.
When it rains, I often hear a certain tune start to race through my head. The ultimate homage to that feeling of a joyful heart, smitten with love, and how that makes you feel on the rainiest of days.
There was a time when I was an expert. During the eight years I worked in finance, there was one particular area where I really was the expert. The company had a policy on the expense claims that could be submitted by employees for travel and other business expenses. It was a long policy, a very long policy. According to the long document, it was originally put together by the directors of the company. But realistically, it was probably not them, but someone who worked in the accounts department or personnel department. Nobody seemed to want to claim responsibility for the contents of the expenses policy. They all said it was drawn up before their time.
When I took over the expenses ledger and was dealing with hundreds of claims each week from employees up and down the country, it became apparent that nobody really understood the policy. My manager did not understand it, the finance controller did not understand it, the finance director did not understand it, none of the directors understood it.
So I read it all, and re-read it, and circled parts that did not make sense and brought them to the attention of my manager. After the contradictions had been clarified, the full expenses policy was published on the company intranet. For the following few years I had four different supervisors, all of whom I had to train and explain the expenses policy to. I was the expert. I just made sure that if there were any issues, I presented them to my supervisor so that they could take the issue to the manager or director. If you ever have a boss – the key to good relations is to try to make your boss look good. Believe me, it makes your working life much more pleasant. Don’t be a glory hunter. Your boss will make your life miserable.
I realized that I am quite good at reading, absorbing, applying policies and explaining them to others. I know it sounds rather boring, but I was receiving scores of phone-calls a day asking me to explain areas of the expenses policy. Nobody else seemed able to answer those questions. Everyone knew to ring Mel – she will answer all of your questions.
Even though it is something I was very good at, I don’t want to go back to a job where I am tied to a desk and staring at a screen all day and talking on the phone. I prefer to work with people, in a role in which I feel I am really helping people, or to be a “jack of all trades”, doing all sorts of physical work and wherever possibly working outside in the fresh air.
What about you? What are you truly an expert at? Write a post and tell us and please link back to Sarah’s writing prompt:
This is a subject that is interesting to me. I read an article about lying recently. It quoted some statistics about how many of us lie regularly. It also discussed the many reasons people may lie. I found it rather thought provoking because there is no doubt that some people us lies in a very sinister way, whereas for most of us, lying is often a weakness in a moment of fear or panic.
People lie for many different reasons.
I think that some lie about their abilities in order to get ahead in the world. Others try to cover up errors or guilt with lies. I think some lie out of fear of being caught or exposed for a mistake they have made. Some falsify reports, resumes, forms and tax returns. Then there are those who maliciously lie (slander) to damage another’s reputation, cowardly lie to avoid embarrassment, lie in a calculated manner to justify previous lies, or deviously to defraud people of their money – we call them swindlers or scammers. Some feel there are legitimate excuses for a lie if it protects another person. They hope that a so-called “white lie” is acceptable because they think it does not injure anyone.
I think some are so afraid of truth, or prefer to believe lies, their life has become a lacy lattice of interlocking lies that are hard to untangle.
Now I am convinced that almost everyone on the planet has lied out of fear, embarrassment or thinking that it will perhaps protect someone from being hurt. But I think there are a smaller number who wilfully set out to deceive others in order to take advantage of their trust, to gain some profit or power over them, and to hide their selfish motives.
I am proud of the many times I have refused to lie in a situation when it was clearly wrong. For example, when I worked in finance, my manager threatened me when she demanded I lie to a client in order to deliberately deceive them. When I refused she was furious and stated that the job description included being willing to lie. I stood my ground much to her obvious annoyance. Some time later she was amongst a number of staff who were dismissed for gross negligence and dishonesty when the company was embezzled and lost around £1,000,000.
I have definitely withheld the truth at times. But my conscience is mostly clean regarding those occasions. For example, I do not like to tell friends here in London what happened to me the night I was attacked. Very few know. Many have asked me probing questions because they wonder why I disappeared for a year. Many believe my disappearance was in connection with my ex-flatmate Jack (which it partly is) or they presume the rumours were true that I was having an affair with a married man. I have chosen not to fight those untruths by opening up my tale of woe to everyone. I have withheld the truth. My family, my close friends, the directors I worked with – they know because I needed their help in order to deal with everything. But I just don’t feel that everyone is entitled to the truth – in some respects, it is none of their business.
But what I do remember is the first time I told an outright dishonest lie for selfish reasons and how my parents helped me to realize it was wrong. And now Crushed Caramel will confess the biggest lie – an outright fib that I told, and I was only around five years of age at the time:
It all started when I went into my brother’s bedroom. To this day, my memory of the first outright lie I told is vivid, and the way my parents tackled that dishonesty is even more a deep part of who I am as a person.
Now I was very aware of the rule that my parents had set. We were not allowed to go into my brother’s room without his permission (a rule that had been made after previous invasions). But I broke this rule and crept into my brother’s room. I was fascinated by my brother’s belongings. He was eight years older than me. He was a very good artist. He had these little bottles of ink on his desk. I could not resist playing with them. I also found his magnifying glass and played with that until I was bored. Then I noticed next to the lamp on his desk there was some money. I took it. It was not a huge amount, perhaps £2 or £3. I slipped out of my brother’s room before I was discovered thinking that I had got away with it.
Some time later, I heard a sound that always made me and my sisters excited. I rushed to my parents and asked them of we could have an ice-cream from the ice-cream van which was playing it’s song in the street outside. My parents said not this time. Then I asked if I could go and buy one for myself with my own money. They asked where my money had come from.
I lied, “I found it.”
“Where did you find it Mel?”
“It was on the floor outside.”
“How much did you find Mel?”
I told them how much I had and I could see my brother shooting looks at my parents. They did not react. They started to ask me if I had been painting that day. Well, I did not have any paints. There were paints at school, but we did not have any for us little ones at home. So I told them it was my felt-tips. I should have known right then that I had been caught out.
“Mel…have you been into your brother’s room?”
“Noooooo!” I fibbed again! My brother looked so cheesed off. But he waited for my parents.
“It’s just that when your brother went into his room a while ago some of his inks for painting had been spilt on his desk and chair and on the carpet and were on the handle of his magnifying glass. Is there any possibility that you might have been there – just for five minutes?”
“It wasn’t me. I didn’t go in.”
“There was some money missing from his room as well.”
…well, I couldn’t bear it much longer. I came clean. I admitted that I had been in my brother’s room and took the money. It took me longer to admit that I played with his inks though.
My parents sat down and reasoned with me. I remember what they said quite clearly actually. I did not understand why it was wrong to take something that did not belong to me. They wanted me to think of examples of people who took something that did not belong to them and what were the results. Now although I was a little girl, I was well read for my age. My first answer was Achan. Then I said Adam and Eve. Then I said Satan. I was devastated. My little conscience beat me severely. Mum and Dad had to cheer me up. They helped me see I had a choice though. Now that I had grasped how wrong it was, the question was would I do it again? Or would I make sure I did not repeat my action? If I had another opportunity to take something that did not belong to me, and the thought of taking it came into my head – what would I do with that thought? Would i keep on thinking about it? Or would I push that thought out of my head?
They confirmed that it is wrong to take something that belongs to someone else without their permission. Of course, I returned my brother’s money. I was told again that I must not go into my brother’s room without his permission. Funny enough, after that day, I was never tempted to steal anything ever again. I learnt that lesson at the age of five. My parents had got through to my heart the lesson that stealing was wrong. Better to enjoy treats with a good conscience, treats that did not come through dishonest means.
I think they had to work on my heart on other occasions until I grasped that lying was wrong. But I remember their patient way of sitting down and asking questions to determine how much we understood our own actions and whether we appreciated why what we had done was wrong. My little conscience was wide awake.
I learnt that it is very uncomfortable to have your conscience telling you what you did was wrong. I also learnt that the peace and happiness that come with doing the right thing are tremendous. I am so glad my parents helped me to grasp the conscience I had within me.
But I am so glad that my parents did help me to reason as a very small child on what was right and wrong. They helped me to understand when I had done something was wrong why it was wrong. They helped me to see that I had a choice – would I do it again? Or would I repeat my action? They helped me to see I could learn to control any wrong thoughts or desires and that there is a special happiness from choosing to do the right thing. I learnt that life is so much happier with a good conscience. An inner judge that says “Well done Caramel, good girl!”
Happiness comes fairly easily to me I must admit. It is not a constant, because there are things that make me sad and painful, even traumatic memories. But it’s not hard to muster up happiness, and it is my default frame of mind. I have just been working on a post for one of these blogging award nominations, and one of the questions was about what makes me happy. I compiled a little list:
A sense of purpose
Work that feels as if I am making a difference to someone’s life
A clean conscience
Hiking and swimming
Starry skies, rainbows and stunning sunsets
Flowers, forests, lakes, rivers
Mountains, beaches and meadows
Animals or all sizes and shapes
and last on this list, but most certainly not least is Goldfinch – who made me happy every day I was in Australia
And I would like to state that when I was with Goldfinch I felt happy from head to toe. Goldfinch had to work of course while I was out there. Five days a week was work. But at the weekend he could take me to wonderful places. He has an office at home. I made sure I didn’t disturb him unnecessarily, as he had a lot to keep him busy.
I sometimes went out on my own, not just to see places (I did visit some lovely places) but also just to wander up to the local shops, which were about a forty-five minute walk away, and I would shop for ingredients and then walk back to Goldfinch’s home and start cooking or baking according to a recipe I had picked out from the BBC Food Website. I loved that little routine, I loved the walk. I loved the sense of purpose I had that I was going to make something, hopefully delicious, for Goldfinch to enjoy after he had been working all day.
I could not have been happier cleaning, sweeping, mopping, washing and ironing. I even rearranged the contents of some cupboards, cleaned out the tenant’s fridge (and the tenants bathroom), swept the patio and the leaves that had collected in little corners of the yard outside, washed all of the windows – inside and out (there are a lot of windows in his home, and after several days of trying to get the petrol lawn mower going, I went a bit crazy with trying to prime the motor and eventually got the thing started, which meant I could mow the grass front, side and back of the property.
In addition Goldfinch and I spent a weekend immersed in DIY – we put up a whole wall of IKEA kallaxes (if you unfamiliar with kallaxes, they are shelving units that you can arrange to fit the space you want and you can add drawers or cupbaord doors into individual squares or leave them open as you like), and we moved furniture from where it was in storage into his house, we insulated the garage door, we hung up lots of his pictures. I loved working along with him.
And this is the thing…I was so happy. Goldfinch may have been surprised at how I chose to spend my time while he was working. He kept on telling me how much he appreciated what I was doing along with lovely hugs and kisses. But I found the more I did around the house, the happier I felt. I was giving. I was working with a purpose. I was showing love in a practical way to the man I am in love with. I was so happy, so deeply happy.
And whenever he took my hand, which he frequently did and being in his arms at night, wrapped up tightly, feeling his kisses on the back of my shoulder…I didn’t want it to ever end. And I am missing him like crazy! Missing thinking and planning and giving and loving every day with him as my priority. Saving my money so I can be back with him again and feel that happiness invade every part of my body.
I don’t think everyone will understand, I don’t think Goldfinch would really understand – but life with him made me deeply happy.
There are a long long list of things that I never thought I could do…and yet I did!!!
Work in cancer care
Be with somebody I loved when they died
Become a professional cook
Learn British Sign Language and become an interpreter
Be on stage in front of an audience of 15,000
Move to London
Sing in front of a live audience of strangers
Learn to ski
Bake my own bread
Learn construction skills like plaster-boarding, roof tiling, and all aspects of decorating
Learn how to use a marble paint effect
Walk twenty-two miles in one day
Run for ten miles
Swim five metres across the swimming pool
Swim two miles along a river (outdoor swimming)
Teach other people how to swim
Help to cut the toe-nails of sheep
Drive a Mercedes Benz
Fall in love again after my teenage sweetheart and I broke up after nine years
Train a team who had never wall-papered before so we could complete the decorating of a venue in one day
Become a professional gardener
Learn to mix cement to make mortar for brick-laying
Travel to construction projects all over the country on my own
Dig an oil-tanker out of the snow
Leave my well-paid job in finance
Qualify to be an international volunteer
Start a blog-site
When I was a child I was lively, yet painfully shy at times. I liked to read and write and play sports and climb trees. I was a great swimmer. However, outside of that I did not think I was very talented or capable. I did not think I had the potential for anything much. But life is full of surprises,
I learnt not to be afraid of change and new situations. I was very secure living in the family home I had grown up in around people who had watched me grow from birth. Leaving home was a frightening. I learnt so much about my potential and my ability to learn and be trained. I also realized my parents really had taught us every life lesson we would need to guide us with new decisions. I found myself in situations I never imagined myself in and experiencing things I would never have even allowed myself to dream about. There is a very long list of things:
“I NEVER THOUGHT I COULD”, …and yet I did!!!
I found it very hard to decide which of the subjects listed to write about, so I will just mention one situation. I worked at the head office of a major retail chain for eight years. From the age of eighteen to twenty-six. I worked there part-time, but I was paid a full-time wage (that was because I was doing the same amount of work that two full-timers used to do before). Because I worked part-time, I was able to spend a lot of time on voluntary projects for various charities.
I was invited by a friend who co-orinated many projects in the south of England to move to a part of the country where the cost of living was high compared to up north, and therefore there were not as many volunteers. There were a lot of projects in that area waiting for more volunteers. When I handed my resignation letter in to my manager in the finance department I worked in, she asked if I had a source of income arranged in the south. My plan was to move and then apply for jobs. She made sure that the company I worked for very kindly helped me to relocate to the south of England and arranged for me to have a part time job in a neighbouring town to where I was living.
It became obvious very quickly that the journey to and from work was epic. I was travelling for longer than I was working. I gave in my notice and started to apply for other jobs in finance. But I only saw full-time roles advertised. That’s when I was offered a job as a private cook catering for a household. My reaction was: “BUT I CAN’T COOK!” They laughed and said I would be fine, they liked me and trusted me. They even gave me a cop of Delia Smith’s famous cookbook and told me to read it and refer back to it whenever I was in doubt.
I absolutely loved working as a cook. I cooked and baked everything from scratch. I learnt so much. It really boosted my confidence. I realized I did not ever want a desk job again. From then on I preferred physical work where I could learn new skills. I also found how much I loved being in people-orientated jobs and working out in the fresh air.
Again and again, I found myself earning my “bread and butter” through work I NEVER THOUGHT I COULD do…and yet I did!!!
When I saw the writing prompt from Sarah Elizabeth Moore, my thoughts were not on flowers. I was thinking about the series of comments I had shared with Bob. Who is Bob? you might be wondering. Bob is the creator of Lovewillbringustogether’s Weblog and is a fine citizen of Australia. I mentioned to Bob how sometimes I wish I could wake up in the morning and find I have miraculously turned into a supermodel and that I had inherited a few millions. I suggested that would give me the confidence to tell Goldfinch I am not happy about he and I living on opposite sides of the planet. Sigh!
Afterwards, I felt bad. I hoped it didn’t sound as if Goldfinch is shallow. He is lovely and he has only ever been gorgeous in the way he treats me…which is why I am sacrificing so much to be able to visit him. I know my faults and what I lack…but he has never made me feel inadequate. However…there is something about me that I think is more of an issue. I often feel I am just not very exciting. I might be nice, but I lack that element of pizzazz, mysteriousness, an exotic quality that makes a man change their plans and fall head over heels with a girl, recognising her as the woman of his dreams. Maybe it is all in my head..let me explain.
I had a friend who I occasionally worked with named Olivia. Olivia was from New York and she was full of character. She loved salsa parties and was a brilliant dancer. She was loud and boisterous, fun-loving and very funny. She knew every cocktail and all sorts of music we had never heard before. She had so much confidence and knew so many people. I liked her a lot. She was always such exuberant company. I thought Olivia was awesome. She was one of the most exciting people I knew. Lots of both guys and girls wanted to be on the party list at one of the events Olivia arranged. She was highly social. My best friends Marta and Suzie were a bit more cautious about her. I think she had stepped on their toes a few times, so they were less enthusiastic. But it’s almost impossible for someone to irk me, unless they deliberately run over my toes with a steam-roller, so I was still very much charmed by and in awe of Olivia.
One day she said to me, “Mel, you are the quintessential English rose.” I laughed and asked her why she had said that. She said some nice things to me about the way I looked and the way I behaved. She praised my diplomacy and tact, how sweet and mild I was. (To explain the context, she had been complaining about people. I had been trying to reason with her about why these people may have acted the way they had and said the things that had provoked her. I am very mild-tempered and forgiving, I do tend to try to avoid overreacting to people who appear to have been ill-mannered.)
I did not disagree. People have said that to me for many years. When I was sixteen I remember visiting the family home of one of my friends, and her mother grabbed my face and said I was a perfect English rose. I was a bit embarrassed because I was not sure what that meant. But she explained that I reminded her of one of the characters from a Jane Austin novel. Ever since then, people have made similar comments over the years.
I asked Olivia, if I was an English rose, what kind of flower was she? She threw her arms above her head in a pose and said she was some kind of rare exotic flower that only grows in the jungle like a bird of paradise. I laughed. But she was right in many ways.
The two of us were quite a contrast in many ways. Olivia had dark beautiful tresses, whereas I was a honey caramel blonde. All our Spanish speaking friends wanted my hair colour. Olivia always made a big impression everywhere she went. I was very sociable but had a softer personality. Olivia said and did things which sometimes shocked people, some found her outrageous. I loved having fun, but I could never offend anyone, and am uber-considerate and thoughtful.
But here were Olivia and I…together again. Olivia had been having health problems. She was in a lot of pain. I was helping her out. Olivia was also becoming bitter about some people who she had fallen out with. She had a fiery character and seemed to often clash with others. I was here trying to empathise with Olivia yet at the same time help her see why people may have reacted that way, but with the most beautiful kindly words I could. I did not want to hurt my gorgeous friend Olivia. She appreciated it, she knew I was genuinely fond of her and was trying to help her see why she was having challenges with people, but in a tactful way.
Although Olivia and I were not the obvious two people to spend time together, I realized that I had become an invaluable friend to her and I loved her company. A blonde and a brunette…the quintessential English rose with an exotic beauty. My only regret about my friendship with Olivia is that she decided to get involved in the Jack situation…which he did not like at all!!! Olivia Santos had more followers on Facebook than even Jack. She had more celebrity friends, went to more parties, and was on stage and television more than Jack. So he was not happy about Olivia meddling and telling him what to do. But that is another story.
My point is…Olivia was someone who attracted lots of attention. Some men were a bit intimidated by her, but they all fancied the pants of her. Beautiful, confidant, assertive, fiery at times, a trend setter, exuberant, passionate, dramatic…she turned heads wherever she went. She is a bombshell and a firecracker! She is the type of woman that makes other women jealous and that drives men crazy. Sometimes I wish there was more of Olivia in me.
But, I am softer. I just am. I can be attractive but I am no great beauty. I am secure in myself, but I am mild and don’t draw attention to myself. I am level-headed, calm, tactful, eloquent, empathetic, diplomatic, graceful, and kind. Women are not jealous of me, they know I am like a loyal sister to them. And men are drawn to me because they don’t fear rejection because they see me as the girl next door. I love people like Olivia – I love their company, they are very exciting to me. And I find I have a number of friends just as feisty and fantastic as Olivia who value my friendship because they know I am loyal and will only ever be lovely to them.
But I admit, I am more the English rose than the Bird of Paradise. I have a lot of friends who are like Birds of parades or tiger lilies, or rare orchids, and I know I don’t stand out as much as they do. I might be the more familiar and perhaps ordinary English rose, but I like who I am. At times, I do wonder if perhaps that means I am less attractive, less memorable, less alluring, less enchanting than someone like Olivia. And that makes me worry. I sometimes feel as if nice, though I may be, it will never be enough to intoxicate the man that I love so much. It shouldn’t matter. But these things weigh upon your mind when you are in love.
But Goldfinch is very fond of me. And for that I am grateful and will be content. I can’t wait to behold him again. And I hope that he is pleased when he beholds me.
Beauty... you know…is all in the eyes of the beholder.
Here is a little flash fiction mixed with real events, in response to the prompt from Teresa, aka The Haunted Wordsmith . She provided the genre as “Fantasy of Manners”, which, in all honesty, I had never heard of. So I have no idea if I am on track with this one, or have made a hash of it?
“I saw that first.” sneered Mabel Forster, the betrothed of the affable, but simple-minded dandy Seymour Gable, son of General Montgomery Gable and Lady Camilla.
I was rather vexed when Mabel stood on my toe and elbowed me in the ribs just so that she could snatch the last vegetarian hor d’oeuvre on the buffet table that I had been reaching over for.
“Why darling, I thought you were watching your weight before the wedding. I wouldn’t have thought avocado whip and pickled beetroot en-croute would help your womble down the aisle next month!“
Mabel scowled at me and then decided to remark on how last season my dress was. “You do vintage so well Melody. I am sure you you must camp out in the clearance boutiques and market bizarres. Where did those shoes come from? Portabello Road? Ha!“
“Don’t snort Mabel-soon-to-be-Gable. You have olive tapenade in your teeth sweetie. At least I can afford to buy my own clothes, instead of relying on pocket money from Daddy.”
“Always were a tad envious weren’t you Melody. I suppose you can’t help your working class family background. I can’t help that I have been born into wealth.” Mable and I had been at school together. I was there because I won a scholarship and Mabel was there because her family could afford the fees. She had always flaunted her family’s wealth, much to my annoyance.
“Wealth from hedge funds and pyramid schemes and other rather fishy enterprises. There you go Mabel…smoked salmon and chive cream cheese – I wondered what that noxious odour was. I am sure that would suit you better than the avocado whip.“
“Melody Finch, you are such a…“
Without giving Mabel the chance to insult me, I turned to the gregarious gentleman I had been watching out of the corner of my eye, as I wanted to avoid being the recipient of his roving hands, “Lord Appleton, how delightful. You know my dear friend Mabel, daughter of Sir Adrian Forster, but soon to become the wife of Seymour Gable.“
After a jovial greeting, Lord Appleton turned on all his charms in making the acquaintance of Mabel, “My dear, Seymour is a frequent visitor to our Berkshire house. We have had many jolly times with old Seemy. He is a great shot and not too bad at backgammon. You must come down in the autumn…after you have had chance to settle down after the honeymoon.” Lord Appleton’s right hand gave Mabel’s derriere a firm squeeze, causing her to almost choke on her salmon en croute.
Meanwhile, I had managed to slip away and locate another buffet table with some more vegetarian hor d’oeuvres and was filling up my plate with them. I only go to these events for the food you know. I can’t stand the company!
Then I meandered my way around the room, champagne flute in my hand, until I saw him. The only man who made these events bearable, Jack Barnes, who had been watching me all night. After taking a gulp of bubbly, I made my way towards him, with a saunter I knew would make him nervous. A couple of metres away from him, I turned to my right and exclaimed “Felicia! How are you darling? You look wonderful. It’s ages since I played tennis with you and Nicholas!“
I knew Jack was watching me. But I was not ready to talk to him until he had offered some kind of apology. I wonder if he has any idea how much I love him still.
In case you are wondering…the flash fiction part is Mabel…the real part is Jack.