© 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, once a week they took over one of the public rooms, 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 a‘soggy bottom’, along with Mary Berry Audrey would not tolerate soggy bottoms in trousers or 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, 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.
Last week, at the flats they’d had a speaker on Boudicca, now Audrey had no idea at all who Boudicca was but deciding it might just be interesting she went along
Charlie Haines, retired Professor of Roman history gave talks on coins, his pet subject being the courageous and spirited Queen of the Iceni, he possessed only one coin of her showing, as it did, the wonderful strong profile. He imagined her with the flaming red hair of the Celts (she lived around the eastern side of Britain) and it was even said her remains were under Kings Cross station platform 9! This was never really confirmed but did add fuel to the myths and legends.
A big man with a big heart he lived alone just outside Thirsk, 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 packed his slides and samples and got into his mini, short drive to the venue.
Audrey was enraptured, apart from the 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 ‘her’ coins she could see where Charlie was coming from.
After the talk Audrey saw to it that Charlie had cake and tea then saw him to his car.
For his part Charlie saw a dainty little woman, full of ‘spirit and go’ a hint of mischief in sparkling blue eyes.
Julie Marchant, warden of the flats, organised trips and speakers for the residents, she announced at the end of the speaker, when he had gone that, “I’ve organised a trip to Thirsk market in a couple of weeks, mini-bus will leave 9.30. Let me have names please”.
Audrey was first in the queue, a country market, a lovely cheese stall, nice bread was just her ‘cup of tea’.
At first it rained but by the time they had parked up the sun shone in a cloudless sky.
Julie, desperate for a cuppa, told everyone where she was going, one or two followed her.
Stepping inside the coffee shop Julie saw her Uncle Charlie, sitting alone, mug in hand.
At the same time Audrey saw him, waving her shoulder bag she 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
people need just a little ‘shove’ to fan the flames..