© Copyright 2020 by Jilly Allison
Audrey Surtees surveyed herself in the full length mirror for the first time in over thirty years. Now she was proud of the way she looked.
Slimming Days had set up shop in the high rise block she lived in and once a week they took over one of the public rooms. The residents trooped down to be measured, cajoled and generally persuaded that parting with their cash each week would bring its rewards.
Now two and a half stone lighter she held out her old trousers (elasticated though they were) from her now trim waist and from the rear saw their ‘soggy bottom. Along wih Slimming Days Mary Berry, Audrey would no more tolerate soggy bottoms in trousers than in a fruit cake.
To get this trim she had played a game with herself. After 14 pounds she’d taken herself off to Boots for a make-up makeover and after 21 pounds she went to a different hairdresser who had persuaded her to have a ‘fluffy’ cut and blonde highlights.
Her two daughters thought she looked great.
She felt livelier in herself as well. She twinkled.
This week, at the flats they were to have a speaker on Boudicca. Now Audrey had no idea at all who Boudicca was but deciding it might just be interesting she decided to attend.
Julie Marchant, warden of the flats, organised trips and speakers for the residents. This time the speaker was her uncle, Charlie Haines. He was a retired Professor of Roman history. He gave talks on coins, his pet subject being the courageous and spirited Queen of the Iceni, Boudicca.
He possessed only one coin of her that showed her wonderful strong profile. He imagined her with the flaming red hair of the Celts (she lived around the eastern side of Britain). It was even said her remains were buried under Kings Cross station platform 9! This was never really confirmed but did add fuel to the myths and legends.
Julie's uncle Charlie was a big man with a big heart who lived alone just outside Thirsk in a neat little bungalow he kept pristine (apart from his study!), even after his wife’s passing. He had the dog for company and, of course, he had his ‘talks’. He was always ready to pack his slides and samples and get into his mini for the drive to the program venue.
Audrey was enraptured, apart from the handsome speaker, smartly dressed in tweeds, sporting a wonderful moustache, he had a voice that reminded her of Anthony Hopkins with a lovely Welsh lilt, not very obvious but enough to make Audrey listen, sometimes with her eyes closed.
The subject matter was good too. Who was this woman born centuries ago, with a statue of her in a chariot gracing the river banks at Westminster? She was a fighter, of that she was sure, against Roman rule. Her husband had left her half his property when he should have left all of it to Rome. She also had two daughters of the same courage and determination.
Looking at the coins depicting her she could see where Charlie was coming from.
After the talk Audrey saw to it that Charlie had cake and tea and then saw him to his car.
For his part Charlie saw a dainty little woman, full of ‘spirit and go’ with a hint of mischief in sparkling blue eyes.
Julie announced at the end of the program, when Charlie had gone--“I’ve organised a trip to Thirsk market in a couple of weeks. Mini-bus will leave at 9.30. Let me have names, please”.
Audrey was first in the queue. A country market, a lovely cheese stall and nice bread was just her ‘cup of tea’.
On the morning of the outing it rained early on but by the time they had parked the sun popped out and shone in a cloudless sky.
Julie, desperate for a cuppa, told everyone where she was going to the coffee shop and one or two followed her.
Stepping inside the shop Julie saw her Uncle Charlie, sitting alone, mug in hand.
At the same time Audrey saw him. She waved her shoulder bag and quickly plumped her coat on the spare seat and said, “How lovely to see you here, I’ll get my coffee and you can tell me more about Boudicca”
was thrilled, and Julie, well, she just smiled to herself. Sometimes, she mused,
people need just a little ‘shove’ to fan the flames.