The Man with the Club

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14/07/2016 by paulinebsc

I wanted to find a new home which was off the beaten track.  Retirement was looming, and when I reached it I intended to write my memoirs, maybe a novel.  Solitude was the main consideration.

 

Minterne Parva was my answer.  The nearest village was within walking distance and had several pubs and a ‘supermarket.’  To me Waitrose is a supermarket, Sainsbury and Tesco provide supermarkets.  This was a quite charming village store with help-yourself baskets attached.

Dean, my son, was unhappy about my choice of venue for a new home.

‘Why don’t you come and live near us?  You’ll be too lonely out here.  What if something happens to you? Where’s the nearest doctor?  What if your car breaks down? You’ll be stuck miles from anywhere.  The house prices are cheaper in Lincoln and you’ll have us to call on in an emergency.  There are lots of places you can get out and about to meet people your own age.  Think about it, won’t you?  I don’t like to think of you being isolated.’

I did my best to placate him, but I don’t think I succeeded.  It is difficult to deal with that sort of prejudice.  The whole point of moving to Minterne Parva was to avoid mixing with people.  Who wants to mix with old people?  I didn’t, even though I am getting old myself.  Outside of work I have never been a mixer, and I saw no reason to start.  Loneliness doesn’t exist in my life, there’s too much to learn.

In spite of Dean’s concerns I moved into my cottage in May.  I call it ‘my cottage.’ It’s not one of the picturesque roses-over-the-door, thatched roof dwellings; more a brick semi-detached with a slate roof, but it is just what I need.  Lincoln may have a cathedral and a castle but it also has busy streets, a steep hill and my daughter-in-law.  I’m happier where I am.

 

I took an on-line course on ‘Creative Writing’ to help me with my memoirs which led me to explore other avenues of writing.  I made sure to take Wednesday mornings off to go shopping.  The walk to the village leads past a viewpoint for the famous (infamous?) chalk man with a huge willy and a slightly bigger club. More important from my point of view, it has a ring of benches.  I often sit there for a rest before tackling the last part of my journey.  On one hot day in September, I was doing just that when a voice behind me said:

‘Sorry, love, can’t offer you anything like that.’

I didn’t realise he was talking to me until he touched my shoulder.

‘Mind if I join you, inadequate as I am.’

He was my age, perhaps a little older, with grey hair swept back into a ponytail and a ‘Hulk Hogan’ moustache.  Not my type at all, but he had beautiful soft grey eyes with a multitude of laughter lines.  The eyes swayed me.

‘It’s a free bench,’ I told him.

‘So are those.’ He pointed to the others, ‘but they don’t have any company. Steven Cooper,’ he introduced himself.

‘Gillian Tomes.’

‘Do you come here often?’ He raised his eyebrows at me in a blatant flirt.

By the time I stood up he had found out where I was going and offered to buy me a drink and a meal.  I wished I’d taken the time to put on a decent skirt rather than my ancient faded trousers.

It was a pleasant meal, and Steven was good company.  We had a lot in common, but enough differences to have lots to talk about.  I stayed a lot longer than I had meant to, and he walked me to the supermarket.

‘When are you next coming into town to shop?’ Steven asked as he left me at the shop doorway.

‘Next Wednesday, I always shop on Wednesdays’

‘Same time, same place?’

I wondered if he would ever invite me to ‘see his etchings,’ which was a favourite cliché of my husband before he left me.

 

We married two years later.  My son was shocked when I told him, but not as surprised as I expected.  I think his capacity for shock at my actions had filled up earlier in the year when he discovered that I was the author of a best-selling sex/horror novel.  I think he was surprised that I even knew about sex.  I don’t know where he thinks he came from.

I found some useful tips when looking at Steven’s ‘etchings.’ I’m still finding them.  We have decided to leave getting old behind for a while and enjoy the moment.

 

The picture is of the ‘Cerne Abbas Giant.’

(see Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cerne_Abbas_Giant)

I have memories of seeing this as a child, and being driven through some of the villages of the River Piddle, which incorporate the river’s name.  Two sources of rude giggles in one trip!

This was written for the prompt ‘Off the Beaten Track’ although it didn’t really suit the parameters of the competition.  It was supposed to be 750 words, but when I decided not to enter it I stretched this a bit.

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