Thank you to all who read the first instalment of my little story about Maggie and Gordon. I had so many positive comments and came to theconclusion that I needed to go the whole hog and write an actual book. I may be getting a bit carried away but in my head I’ve already designed the front cover and decided that Dawn French and Colin Firth will play the lead roles in the TV adaption or quite possibly the fim version. Now to decide what to wear to the Baftas and Oscars!!!
Well here it is, enjoy reading (or not) and do let me know what you think.
Gordon’s irritation at his wife’s tardiness was plainly obvious as his fingers drummed at an alarming rate on the roof of their car. If there was one thing that he couldn’t abide above all of Margaret’s irksome bad habits and that was her poor time keeping. If he had stipulated meeting at a certain time then he expected her to be punctual. She may argue that a minute late here and there didn’t matter but if everyone had that attitude then quite frankly the country would go to pot. The trip to Land’s End had been a total disaster, what with extortionate parking fees, gangs of unruly French students and no sighting at all of the buff breasted sandpiper. Now to cap it all his wife was late. Was it any wonder he was in such a foul mood.
He tried calling her on her mobile but the stupid woman was ignoring his calls. He was busy tapping out a text just as a double decker bus rumbled by. Margaret, where the hell are you and why aren’t you answering my calls? I’m ready to leave and suggest you return to the car pronto!
His text went unanswered and after much huffing and time checking Gordon decided that the best course of action was to go and search for his errant wife and so off he stomped with long, purposeful strides to retrieve Margaret and by god, she’d better have a decent explanation as to what it was that so important that it had stopped her from meeting him at the designated time!
He had been sure that he would find her in the gift shop looking at some tat or with her head in a book so was rather surprised when he discovered she wasn’t there. He couldn’t imagine that she would have paid to go in any of the attractions. Maybe she had wandered onto the coastal path and lost track of time. It wouldn’t be like her thought to wander too far off. She wasn’t one to enjoy a walk. He’d tried on many occasions to get her to go for a walk but she kept on moaning that he walked too fast and she couldn’t keep up. She even suggested they amble arm in arm which apparently other couples did all the time. Gordon really couldn’t see the point in that. A good brisk walk was great exercise and very beneficial for improving your cardiovascular fitness. Ambling had no such benefits!
When he couldn’t find her there either and was beginning to think that they could well have just missed each other somehow and that he’d find her waiting back at the car, something colourful on the rocks below caught his eye. He still had his bird watching binoculars strung around his neck so used them to get a better view. On closer inspection he discovered that the flimsy strip if fabric struggling to free itself was indeed the scarf Margaret had been wearing that day. If it was there, where then was his wife? He could only conclude that she had slipped and fallen into the sea below. For a brief moment he felt his heart racing and his mouth dry as he experienced the fear of losing his Maggie forever, but Gordon quickly snapped back into his practical self and reached for his phone.
“Hello Coastguard, my name is Gordon Thornden. I’m on the coast path at Land’s End and I’d like to report that my wife has fallen into the sea.” “No, I can’t see her, but I can see an item of clothing she was wearing” “I last saw her several hours ago.” “I have no idea if anyone witnessed her falling” “Righto, I’ll wait here then for you. I’m wearing a red anorak.” And with that he sat on nearby rock and waited for his wife to be rescued. As Gordon sat waiting on his rock for his wife to be pulled out of the sea, the wife in question was staring out of the window of the bus winding its way down narrow country roads towards Penzance. She rested her cheek on the warm glass and felt a wave of tiredness wash over her. It made a change to not feel tense whilst travelling down roads that she knew well from all of their previous
previous Cornish holidays. Gordon hated having to share roads with other vehicles. People were either driving too slow, too fast, too reckless or driving 4x4s, vans, buses or towing caravans. Not to forget to mention either the wretched cyclists in their lycra who insisted on cycling two abreast. Many a time, much to Maggie’s embarrassment, Gordon had wound down his window and waved his fist at anyone who pissed him off. There was that awful time when she had sunk low in her seat after he had stopped the car and turned off the engine in the middle of the narrow road to Porthcurno when someone didn’t reverse into a passing place and let their car pass. She would never forget the traffic jam that their stand-off had created. Maggie offered to drive but Gordon believed that it was the man’s place to be behind the wheel whilst the women’s job was to look for road signs and spot parking spaces.
Was Maggie regretting her rash decision to jump on the bus? Should she get off at St Buryan, phone Gordon, apologise profusely and never hear the end of it, or should she be brave, be spontaneous and keep on going to the other end of the country? On the empty seat next to her was the rucksack carrying an empty sandwich box, Thermos flask, a toilet roll, a pack of Imodium and a bird spotting book as well as her purse and phone. She took a long look at it, felt tears prick at her eyes and suddenly felt very sad. Here she was at 60 carrying around toilet rolls and anti-diarrhoea tablets. Was this to be her future? Where was the girl who thought nothing of back packing alone from Greek island to Greek island, dance barefooted on an empty dance floor, go on demonstrations, fight her corner, throw caution to the wind, laugh until her sides split, love with a passion so intense that it hurt every part of her. What had become of her?
The bus didn’t let off any passengers at St Buryan and later when the last run for the day was over the cleaners found an abandoned rucksack containing nothing but an empty sandwich box, a Thermos flask, a toilet roll, a pack of Imodium and a bird spotting book.
Quite a crowd had gathered to watch the lifeboat from Sennen Cove search for a missing woman. People speculated how she managed to end up in the sea. Did a gust of wind take her or was she silly enough to try and retrieve the scarf that was now a soggy scrap lodged between the rocks? Maybe she had decided that life wasn’t worth living and had done herself in? The police had been called and were now taking details of the woman from her husband. Someone had kindly given him a cup of tea, no doubt well sugared to help with the shock. The poor man looked terribly pale but seemed to be jigging quite a bit like he was in need of the toilet. Funny how shock can affect you!
A couple walking back from Sennen were intrigued to find such a crowd on the path looking down at the sea below.
“What’s happening?” The woman asked the one of the crowd.
“A woman’s gone in the drink. Reckon that’s her scarf down there. My bet is that she’ll be a goner. Probably half way to Scilly by now. That’s the husband over there talking to the police. Poor bugger. He won’t forget this holiday in a hurry!”
The couple looked down to the where the scarf lay and quickly made their way over to Gordon and the policeman.
“Excuse me officer but we were passing this way earlier today and saw the owner of the scarf on the path ahead of us. A gust of wind took her scarf and it landed on the rocks below.”
Gordon dropped the cup of tea “Tell me please did she climb down after it. She loved that scarf. It wouldn’t surprise me if she tried to retrieve it. She must have slipped on the rocks and fell in the sea. How do I tell our children that their poor mother has drowned?”
The couple looked puzzled “She hasn’t drowned, your wife turned around and walked back towards the car park.” They thought it best not to mention the bit where they heard his wife shout Fuck you Gordon into the wind as she watched her scarf swirl away high into the sky.
The search was called off and the crowd dispersed somewhat disappointed that it was a false alarm. Margaret Thornden’s disappearance was still a mystery so the police asked to see the day’s CCTV recordings to see if they could throw any light on the missing woman’s movements. Gordon could identify her as the woman sitting on a bench. What puzzled Gordon was the footage of her getting on a bus.
Why on earth was Maggie getting on a bus in the first place, and where could his wife be going?