Author Topic: New Story- Cathy.  (Read 2089 times)

Offline norfolkdumpling

  • Steeplechasing Star
  • ******
  • Posts: 12583
New Story- Cathy.
« on: December 27, 2022, 05:25:17 PM »
Cathy.
The sound that every miner's wife dreads woke Cathy Ross from her sleep. She had been dozing in the chair because Steve had been awake for most of the night coughing. It was 9am and her husband, Dan had been rostered on since 7.30 and if the hooter indicated that there had been an accident in the mine then he could have been caught up in it. She washed her face, woke Steve, put on their outdoor clothes and hurried down the road to leave Steve with her friend Josie whose husband was a mill worker. Cathy joined the stream of women and men heading in the direction of the pit head all of them anxious about a husband, son , brother or friend. A crowd had already assembled surrounding one of the managers whose face was grave. 'There's been a cave in and some men are trapped. Others are trying to reach them, that's all the information I have and I don't yet know which men are involved. The local vicar and the Methodist and Baptist ministers were there moving amongst their flocks and offering prayers and support. Cathy didn't hold with religion normally but if they thought prayer would help then she'd give it a go. She'd been married in the Anglican church and attended other weddings and funerals there so she joined the group of people gathered round Rev. Johnson as he intoned prayers for the safety of the men in the mine. The waiting seemed endless. It was bitterly cold and people from nearby houses who were not already standing outside arrived with cups of steaming hot  sweet tea and handed them round. Elaine Ferren whose husband Brian was one of Dan's best friends came to stand by Cathy clutching an already soaking handkerchief. As they looked towards the mine entrance they saw some men being helped out. Relieved women ran to their menfolk but of Brian and Dan there was no sign. Jed Perkins who was another friend hurried over to them. 'I'm sorry to tell you lasses that they've not got through to the place where your husbands were working. Some of the roof collapsed and they're t'other side of it. We were lucky, we only got hit by a few stray bits of rubble,  hopefully it were the same for them on the other side. The rescue team is moving the blockage but it's slow going as they have to be very careful.
norfolk dumpling aka loopylin

Offline norfolkdumpling

  • Steeplechasing Star
  • ******
  • Posts: 12583
Re: New Story- Cathy.
« Reply #1 on: December 27, 2022, 10:44:22 PM »
How many are still trapped?' asked Cathy.
'It's hard to  tell for sure but looking round at the blokes who have come out I reckon about a dozen. I want to go back down there cos they're all my mates but they won't let me.'
'You mustn't even think about it. There could be another collapse.' said Elaine.
'Ey up, they must have got through. There's a couple of blokes being brought out on stretchers now.'
Cathy and Elaine edged closer and recognised Joe Clark and Jim Dawson. Their faces were streaked with blood and dust but they were alive. The foreman of the rescue party looked at Elaine. 'Brian will be out next. I'm sorry to tell you that he suffered a nasty blow on the head and he's still unconscious but he should pull through. There's three more with serious injuries and a couple didn't make it.' Cathy looked at him enquiringly.
'Dan was still alive when we got to him but I have to warn you Cathy lass that I don't think he'll make it. A load of rubble landed on his back.' Cathy began to sob and one of the older women put her arms round her.
'Come on love, he's young and fit there's still hope.' Ray the foreman looked ay her and shook his head sadly. More men were brought out on stretchers Brian among them. Elaine ran to his side as he was taken to the waiting ambulance. One of the managers stood  checking the names with the list of men who had been on the fated shift. Ben Lester and Tom Cross, two of the older workers had been confirmed dead. At last Ray called to Cathy 'Dan's coming now.' Cathy ran to the mine entrance and gasped as her husband was brought out. His eyes were closed but he was groaning. 'Dan!' she cried. 'C -Cath?' 'Yes' 'Take care of the littlun and don't let him ever go down a mine.' he said. 'You'll be okay Dan, they'll take care of you.'
'Nay lass, I'm done for. Kiss me one last time and tell me you love me so I can go to my maker easy.'
Cathy kissed his dust encrusted lips and whispered the words he was waiting for. He opened his eyes that were filled with pain and said 'Goodbye my sweet love.' Then he gave a deep sigh and closed his eyes for the last time. Cathy broke down and was helped away by Ray and his wife. 'I'll tek her to our place' said Ray's wife. 'Where's young Steve Cathy love?'
'He's with Josie Wainwright.' The wife of one of the rescue team said 'I'll go and see if she can keep him overnight.' 'She can keep him forever if she wants,' Cathy ground out. 'There's no way I'll be able to look after him on the pittance I'll get in compensation.' 'Josie will look after him so you can work. Others will help. you know we all pull together in times of emergency in this community.'
'And just where do you suggest I work?'
'You could try one of the mills.'
'They'll want skilled workers or else it will be all the worst jobs they have like as not.'
'Cathy, you mustn't give up. Mebbe your sister could help.'
'Milly has our mother to look after as well as keeping her own job.'
As Cathy was led away the onlookers whispered to one another. 'Young Steve's the image of his dad. Cathy will find it hard looking at him every day.'
'He could be a comfort to her. He's a lovely looking lad that's for sure.'
'How old is he now?'
'Coming up to 4. his birthday is in November if I remember right.
norfolk dumpling aka loopylin

Offline norfolkdumpling

  • Steeplechasing Star
  • ******
  • Posts: 12583
Re: New Story- Cathy.
« Reply #2 on: December 28, 2022, 10:41:55 AM »
The next few days passed in a blur as funerals for all the men who died were held. Cathy's sister Milly made the journey to be with her leaving their mother in the care of a neighbour but could only stay a couple of days. Dan's father had died many years previously and his mother was too ill to attend the funeral. 'You can come and stay with us for a bit if you like love.' said Milly. 'Maybe find yourself a job and somewhere to live nearby. There'd not be room for you and Stevie permanently.'
'We'll see' said Cathy in reality having no intention of spending time with her mother who was on the verge of senility and Milly, who she considered to be a confirmed old maid. Cathy was still young and pretty enough to want to see a bit of life. She hadn't really wanted to get married in the first place. Steve had been a mistake. She and Dan had got carried away one night and when he knew she was carrying his baby Dan insisted they got married. At the time Cathy was working in a dress shop in nearby Hawkston  but she had to give that up early in the pregnancy because she was quite unwell so they got married when she was only a few months gone. If Dan had not found out when he did she was pregnant she would have got rid of the baby but she did love him and knew he would be a good provider. The birth was difficult and Cathy did not really bond with the child but he was the apple of his dad's eye. Two days after the funeral Cathy went to fetch Steve from Josie's house.
'I've come to say 'tar Jo. We're leaving first thing in the morning, you can take anything you want from what's left in the house and give the rest to anyone in need of a few bits. '
'Where will you go Cath?'
'I'm heading for Liverpool.'
'How will you manage with Steve?'
'Oh he'll be taken care of, don't you worry.'
'Why not leave him here with us till you're settled, then we can bring him to you. We've loved having him here, you know that.' For a moment Cathy was tempted but her arrangements were already in place and she wanted to be done with this place.
'You'll have your own babies soon enough to keep you busy.' The two friends hugged and Cathy took Steve by the hand. He began to cry.
'Wanna stay here with Jojo Mike and Flint.'
'Well you can't!' Flint was a retired pit pony that Josie had bought in anticipation of the family she hoped to have and Steve loved riding him.
Josie heard Steve's cries as Cathy half dragged him back to their house and when Mike got home from work he found her sobbing holding one of the new sweaters she had bought for Steve. So many of his clothes including his winter coat and shoes had been too small and she had had such fun buying him new things. Luckily he'd been wearing the new coat and shoes but the rest of the things he was wearing, except for the underwear were worn and patched. 'Please Mike, take these things I bought for Stevie to Cathy, she went without them.'
'Tomorrow love, I'm tired.'
'She's leaving early to catch the train to Liverpool.'
Wondering why his wife had not already taken the things herself Mike duly delivered the bag of clothes to Cathy who thanked him but did not ask him into the house. 'Josie says be sure to stay in touch.' Cathy nodded not at all sure that she would keep her promise.
norfolk dumpling aka loopylin

Offline norfolkdumpling

  • Steeplechasing Star
  • ******
  • Posts: 12583
Re: New Story- Cathy.
« Reply #3 on: December 29, 2022, 10:52:14 AM »
She packed her own case, added a few items of Steve's to the bag Josie had sent, dressed him in his old pyjamas, gave him a glass of milk and a stale biscuit and put him to bed. He managed to take a cuddly toy pony from the bag and hugged it to him as sleep finally claimed him. Next day she hauled him out of bed at the crack of dawn, dressed him in his new clothes and gave him the last of the cereal and milk. She had bacon and eggs. Steve was not to see that sort of breakfast again for many years but of course he didn't know that at the time. Cathy made sardine sandwiches for the journey and took one last look round as a taxi pulled up outside. She pushed Steve out of the door still clutching his pony. As they passed Josie's house Steve swallowed a lump in his throat unaware that behind her lounge curtains Josie was once again sobbing as she caught sight of a little face pressed against the glass. Cathy had to change trains a couple of times but although she bought one ticket through to Liverpool the second ticket was to Endesthorpe, the first station where she had to change. When they got off there she took Steve to the toilet and said. 'Mam has to go away to earn some money, Stevie. I'm going to leave you with some nice people who will take care of you till I come  back. Now you're to be  a good brave boy and not cry when I go. She popped a barley sugar in his mouth and gave him a few more in a twist of paper. There was a farm cart outside the station and a man asked her if she was Mrs. Ross. She nodded and said 'You go with the nice man Stevie. Mam has to catch the train now. She kissed his cheek then went back into the station without giving a backward glance. Steve bit his lip and the man lifted him and his bag onto the cart. 'We'll take good care of him missus, don't you worry. ' he called after Cathy. Cathy gave a snort. 'Worry, why should she worry. she was free at last to live the kind of life she wanted. She took her wedding ring from her finger and stowed it in her handbag. If times got hard she could pawn it although it was only cheap.
In spite of the warm clothes Josie had bought for him Steve felt cold. He cuddled the pony to him and made sure his bag was safe wondering when he would see his mam again. It seemed like hours before the cart pulled up outside an austere looking building. He was lifted down and the door was opened by a young girl in a maid's uniform. She took Steve's bag and told him to follow her. He was taken to a large sparsely furnished room where a hatchet faced woman stood waiting. 'Steven Ross, I presume.' Steve said nothing. 'Well?' he nodded miserably.She gripped his arm then took the bag from the maid. She removed the old pair of pyjamas leaving the new ones in the bag. She thrust them at the maid. 'He can keep these and his underwear. 'You won't need the rest, we'll give you clothes. Steve stuffed the pony under his coat in case she took that too. She noticed he was holding something and took the sweets from his hand. 'Mustn't spoil your lunch! Take him away and give him a bath and make sure he's not got any infestations, then put his uniform on him and show him his bed. He was taken by the hand and led away by the young maid.
norfolk dumpling aka loopylin

Offline norfolkdumpling

  • Steeplechasing Star
  • ******
  • Posts: 12583
Re: New Story- Cathy.
« Reply #4 on: December 29, 2022, 04:22:27 PM »
'My name's Lucy by the way but you have to call me 'miss' when matron or any of the other senior staff are around. Shall I call you Steven or Steve?' 'Stevie!' 'Right then Stevie, let's get you undressed and I'll run you a nice hot bath. She helped him off with his coat and he tried to hide the pony from her. 'What's that you're trying to hide? Oh that's a nice pony. Don't worry we won't take it from you. Even matron knows it's important for every child to have a favourite toy to keep with them at bed time. All other toys have to be shared. Did you bring any others? '
Steve looked blank. I'll go and look in your bag.' she quickly removed the last of his clothes and popped him into the bath she had run. 'Goodness, there's not much flesh on you. I'll have to be careful I don't lose you down the plughole! Steve gave a little smile which transformed his face.
'When will mummy come?'
'I don't rightly know, you'll need to be patient.' she dried him, combed his hair through with a nit comb and satisfied he was clear dressed him in his own underwear, a cotton shirt, short grey trousers and a grey jumper. A uniform which didn't vary much except to change from short to long trousers for the 13 years he was to spend there. In his bed that night cuddling his pony but still feeling very alone Steve cried. Some of the other boys teased him but the boy who he was to learn was the oldest in the dormitory and in nominal charge went and sat on his bed. 'h
How old are you and what's your name?' 'Stevie, I'm nearly 4.' 'Well Stevie, I'm Rob and I'm 10. If anyone gives you any trouble you just let me know.' and to the others he said.' He's the youngest in this dorm, anyone bullying him answers to me. You'll be alright youngun.' 'I won't be here long. My mummy is coming back for me soon.' The boy in the next bed laughed. 'Yeah same goes for all of us, take it from me mate it'll be a long wait!' 'Shut it Billy! Now settle down the lot of you or we'll have  Creepy Clara in here.' He went back to his bed and Steve cried himself to sleep as he did for the first few months of his stay. He wasn't yet old enough to go to the village school so spent many hours staring out of the window down the long drive waiting for his mother to appear,
norfolk dumpling aka loopylin

Offline norfolkdumpling

  • Steeplechasing Star
  • ******
  • Posts: 12583
Re: New Story- Cathy.
« Reply #5 on: December 30, 2022, 10:41:29 AM »
Cathy didn't spare a thought for Steve once she had left him at the children's home. She'd spun them a story about coming back for him when she was settled in a job and accommodation and promised to send them a forwarding address when she had one. She caught the train to Liverpool and found a hostel after asking for advice from a local bobby on the beat. It was pretty basic- a no frills shared dormitory with breakfast and evening meals provided. Everyone was expected to  vacate the premises between 9am and 5pm to encourage those with no job to seek employment as quickly as possible and hopefully earn enough to find an alternative place to live. There was a stream of girls arriving each week to take the place of any who'd left. Cathy asked around the girls who were working to see what work they did but didn't hear of anything that appealed to her. She wanted to work in a shop although she had no references from her previous job or any character reference having left without leaving time to get either. She always took great care over her appearance within the constraints of her limited wardrobe. She started with the big stores but none would take her without references and they always had a stream of applicants with the right paperwork. The hostel warden told her to set her sights lower and try the smaller shops. Cathy tried, she trudged the streets in daylight hours but the answer was  always the same. 'We're not taking on staff at the moment.' Cathy's money was running low and she felt it was time to see if she could get any compensation from the mining company .She had their details in her handbag. She found out that she was indeed entitled to  what sounded to her a paltry sum but they could not send it to the hostel or a post office box but would need a permanent address. Desperate Cathy tried the markets  at last coming across an old lady with a bad chest who was suffering as Winter approached. She had a busy second hand clothes stall and her trade would increase as Christmas approached. Cathy began to help her every day going to her house to help her bring the loaded handcart to the stall. When Mrs. Hastings found out she was looking for accommodation she offered her a room in her house for no charge as long as she helped with the household chores. She had three paying lodgers, business men who went home at weekends but required breakfast and evening meals when they were there. Cathy was quite a good cook and used to getting up early because of Dan's shifts.
She  was a quick learner and knew how to get the best prices for the goods on offer. The old lady did not need to go looking for stock as she had regular customers who knew she would pay fair prices and would collect suitable things from the streets near them. She would look everything over, wash and mend anything necessary and put clothes not suitable for sale on the stall into bags for people to use to make rag rugs. These she kept in a box under the stall. Now Cathy was helping she could load more on the cart than before and was pleased with how things were working out. She was happy for Cathy to use her address for the mining company to use to send her compensation, Cathy said on no account was this to be given out to anyone. When Mrs. Hastings was satisfied that Cathy could be trusted and left alone on the stall she stayed at home mot of the day washing and mending and just going to the stall for an hour so Cathy could eat the sandwiches she made every morning and get a tea from the tea stall. The one on the market was always crowded and Mrs Hastings told her that there was a better one on a car park a  couple of streets away. It was there that Cathy first made the acquaintance of Bert Lane who was to be her friend through thick and thin and later her brother in law. Cathy had been taught elementary needlework by her older sister and her mending was much neater than the elderly Mrs. Hastings. She was allowed to take anything she wanted from the stock but when her compensation arrived  took an afternoon off and bought herself a new winter coat and boots and a couple of pairs of slacks and warm jumpers. Christmas was really busy and Cathy began to take a few pence here and there from the takings to supplement her wages. She told herself that it was only right as she had developed a good sales patter and increased the profits. One day when she went to get her tea from Bert he said 'What do you do in the evenings luv?'
'Well I have to serve the evening meal and wash up then I do a bit of knitting or mending but go to bed early as there's only a coal fire and it's none too warm. I'm not one for reading why do you ask?' 'Well it gets a bit busy here when the factories turn out and I could do with someone to make the rolls while I look after the drinks. There'll be a shilling or two in it for you if you could help out. It's not too far from your lodgings and I'd make sure you got home safely. ' Cathy was trying to accumulate as much money as possible so she agreed and soon became as popular with Bert's customers as she was with the market folk.
norfolk dumpling aka loopylin

Offline norfolkdumpling

  • Steeplechasing Star
  • ******
  • Posts: 12583
Re: New Story- Cathy.
« Reply #6 on: December 31, 2022, 10:57:23 AM »
When the warmer weather arrived and Mrs. Hastings felt a little better Cathy was allowed one afternoon a week in addition to Sunday afternoons when the market was closed. She'd opened a post office account when the compensation arrived and was pleased to see the balance steadily rising. On her afternoons off she began to visit the better shops again confident that Mrs. Hastings would provide her with a reference when the time came for her to leave. One day when she was alone on the stall and very busy  a young man strolled over.
'What's happened to my auntie Joan?'
'Do you mean Mrs. Hastings?. He nodded.
'Well I've been helping her out, she's not been too well.'
'You don't need to worry any more, that's my job. I've been away but I'm back now.'
'I'm not leaving!'
'I think you are if you don't want me telling her how you've been cheating her out of her cash. I've been keeping an eye on you for a few days now- seen you putting money in your pocket as well as in her tin.' Cathy blushed and tried to say she sometimes forgot herself but always turned her pockets out before leaving the stall for the day.
'A likely story, so you're just going to tell her you'll be moving on. I suppose you've been staying with her- well that room's mine so you can pack your bags and sling your hook by the end of the week. I'm staying with a mate till then.'
'How do I know you're really her nephew?'
'Ask her, my name's Roger Hastings, my dad's her brother in law Jim.' That night Cathy told Joan about the meeting leaving out the bit about stealing from her of course. 'I'm sorry dear. He did use to help me before he went away and the room was his. He went away to make money so he said. I didn't expect to see him back here. I've been right glad of your help and I'll give you a bit extra at the end of the week and  a reference for what it's worth. Have you got a new job?'
'Not exactly but there's a couple of places who said they would need extra staff shortly but would need a reference so if you can give me one that will probably help.' The next day at the market one of the other stallholders came over to her.
'I see you met Joan's nephew yesterday- nasty bit of work! He's probably just come out of prison, Joan doesn't know. she thinks he's been working away.'
'What did he do?'
'He was caught stealing from a shop in Manchester. The police had been keeping an eye on him for a while but he was very clever. He wasn't living with Joan at the time because she was having some work done on the house. When the police searched the address where he was living they found several things which had been stolen. He tried to say that the person he was staying with was responsible but the man had a good job and a good reputation and had never been in any trouble unlike Roger who had already had brushes with the law. He was tried and convicted. It was in the papers of course but Joan doesn't read them and keeps herself to herself so no-one had the heart to tell her.'
'Oh dear, I'm having to move out because he wants his room back. I hope she'll be alright.'
'Her lodgers are good blokes and will keep an eye on her and if I were you I'd get well away from here.' So Cathy found herself once more back at the hostel.
norfolk dumpling aka loopylin

Offline norfolkdumpling

  • Steeplechasing Star
  • ******
  • Posts: 12583
Re: New Story- Cathy.
« Reply #7 on: January 01, 2023, 11:53:31 AM »
Armed with the letter of reference that Joan had given her Cathy revisited some of the independently privately owned shops she had been to before. She now looked very smart because she was wearing the new clothes she had bought and was taken on by the owner of a dress shop whose assistant was expecting a baby and about to go on maternity leave. 'I'm keeping her job open for her mind but I'll need you for a few months.' When Cathy received her first wage packet she found a place to rent which she could afford. It was furnished but only sparsely and Cathy decided to only add a small amount to the furniture until she was in a permanent job. As she walked back to her flat one august evening she heard a newsvendor crying 'Market trader murdered, police search for nephew, read all about it!' Cathy bought a paper and her fears were confirmed. Joan Hastings had been murdered and it seemed like Roger was responsible. A shiver ran down her spine. She had liked Joan and thought she didn't deserve such a fate. She was glad that she was away from the immediate area but he was probably on a ship by now. She still worked for Bert and talked to him about the case. 'The local beat bobbies often call in for a cuppa as you know and they're determined to find Roger. Joan was well liked in these parts and a lot of folk relied on her stall. There's three blokes out of a place to stay now as the house is rented and they will have to move out as the landlord wants to sell.' Bert insisted on walking her back to the bus stop and waiting until she was safely on board. 'Just in case he's lurking about the area and recognises you!' he said. Several days later the newsvendor's cry was 'Murderer apprehended!' The paper reported that Roger had been spotted hiding in a warehouse by the docks. He'd been seen by a policeman who knew him from arresting him before going in to shelter on a wet night. He had called for back up and the premises were watched. He was caught as he came out the next day. He ran for it but several officers had been drafted it to wait for him, two were very young and fit and soon caught him. Cathy followed his case  and saw that he was sentenced to life imprisonment. When her time working at Angelina's dress shop was drawing to a close the owner recommended her to a friend who had a small chain of boutiques and gave her an excellent reference. The wages were a good deal more and Cathy began to allow herself the occasional night out with other assistants. They usually managed to find men  who were willing to buy their drinks in exchange for a kiss and a cuddle but they would go no further than that. Cathy had enjoyed her marital relations with Steve's father and when one of her male friends made it clear he wanted more than a cuddle she enquired whether he had any 'Johnnys'. when he didn't she refused him but next day bought a supply to carry with her. Her landlady did not allow male visitors but the young man had a van and they made use of that. Cathy looked round and found a flat where there would be no rules about visitors and persuaded a couple of girls to share with her. These already had boyfriends and were not narrow minded. They arranged things so that there were never two men staying on the same night but often there were departures well after midnight. Cathy set her sights even higher and began looking for a better job. She found one as a sales assistant in a wedding boutique  and having been taught elementary dressmaking skills by her mother and sister was able to take accurate measurements, pin up hems and advise re other alterations as well as showing patterns of designs that could be made from scratch to order. The shop owner could design dresses and make her own patterns. Cathy was fascinated and when there was an order that needed to be completed quickly she would lend a hand working overtime and gaining  the trust of her employer. It meant she didn't see as much of Bert but helped out when she could. Her savings grew and if she had been content to make do with the occasional night out all would have stayed well but this proved to be impossible for the fun loving Cathy.
norfolk dumpling aka loopylin

Offline norfolkdumpling

  • Steeplechasing Star
  • ******
  • Posts: 12583
Re: New Story- Cathy.
« Reply #8 on: January 02, 2023, 11:52:40 AM »
The bridal shop sold accessories in addition to gowns. Doting mamas would encourage their daughters to buy all their wedding finery in 'Ellesse
Modes' expecting a discount on the amount they paid. There was a wonderful array of veils, shoes, tiaras, bridesmaids dresses , stockings and outfits for mothers and mothers in law including hats and bags. Sometimes as she helped customers to try on dresses Cathy's  mind would travel back to her own register office wedding. She had worn a loose fitting cream dress which did little to hide her delicate condition but knew she was the envy of many village girls who had their eyes on the handsome groom. Sometimes this would lead her to think of little Steve on the day she had left him, so like his father already. She soon brushed these thoughts aside and turned her attention back to the customer she was serving complimenting her on her choice and beginning her sales talk regarding a veil and other accessories. Cathy was not officially on commission but sometimes when she had made a particularly good sale Ellesse would give her a small percentage of the profit. She was good at her job and her savings began to mount up. She moved to better lodgings and still eager for more money she found work as a barmaid at the weekends cutting down her hours with Bert to a few on weeknights. Although she had no experience of bar work the landlord was desperate for help and she was a quick learner and easy on the eye. The landlord's wife prepared bar meals and when she was busy Cathy helped her in the kitchen too arriving early for her shift. She earned extra in tips and of course some customers would insist on buying her drinks. So began a habit which was to lead her into trouble as time passed. On a Friday night when the men were flush the drink flowed freely and Cathy often woke with a bad headache and phoned into work sick. When this had happened several times her boss warned her that if it happened again she would be sacked. Cathy still loved her day job and for a time made sure she drank less on Fridays and Sundays and made up for it on Saturdays.
As Christmas approached men began to buy her drinks without asking and not wanting to cause offence she drank heavily. One Saturday morning with 2 weeks to go to Christmas Eve Cathy was very sick when she woke up. It was very early and not wanting to miss work she had a shower, ate some toast and decided to walk to work rather than take the bus as she normally did. She bought a tube of mints on the way knowing that the day would be particularly busy as Ellesse had diversified and now stocked evening dresses in addition to the bridal range. The dinner dance season was in full swing and Cathy knew she would need to get close up to customers doing up zips and making slight alterations. The fresh air did little to clear her head and when she arrived at the boutique she went straight to the staff room and applied a heavy layer of make up to disguise her palor, fixed on a smile, popped a mint in her mouth and entered the shop. The other assistant said 'Morning Cath, late night was it?'
'Not particularly, why do you ask?'
'You've got bags under your eyes that would hold a bag of sugar!'
norfolk dumpling aka loopylin

Offline norfolkdumpling

  • Steeplechasing Star
  • ******
  • Posts: 12583
Re: New Story- Cathy.
« Reply #9 on: January 03, 2023, 10:49:25 AM »
Customers began to arrive and Cathy's second was one of those people who refused to be pleased with anything that she was shown.
'I'm attending an important dinner and must look my best.' she said. 'Modom has tried on most of the dresses in her size already.' she said.
'What about something  in a larger size? It could be altered couldn't it? I'll need it by next Wednesday.' She indicated a dress she liked.
'I'm not sure we can have it ready by then and that style is perhaps a little too young for modom.'
'What are you saying you insolent person. Get it down from the hanger for me at once!' Cathy did so and a sudden wave of nausea came over her. Knowing she was going to be sick she thrust the dress into the woman's hands, muttered 'excuse me' and fled. From inside the changing room the woman shouted 'I need help with the zip.' As the other assistant was busy the owner went to help. 'Do you think this dress is too young for me?'
'Of course not, but it is a bit too big.' 'you don't have it in my size. Can you alter it before next Wednesday?'
'Of course , no trouble at all.'
'Hhm, that's not what the other one said!' When Cathy returned the owner said 'Is there a problem, Ross?'
'I just felt a bit unwell. Must have been the prawns I had last night. I'm fine now.'
'Well deal with this sale. I've pinned the alterations needed so take it to the workroom with a ticket marked  'Urgent needed Wednesday 12th'
'But the workroom is overstretched at the moment.'
'Then someone will be doing some overtime- but it won't be you!' Cathy muttered 'thank goodness' under her breath and grudgingly dealt with the sale mentally clocking up the commission it could earn as it was one of the most expensive dresses n the shop. 'Would modom like to try some shoes?'
'Well I'd like to but I'm really very thirsty and would like a cup of tea and a biscuit.'
'We'll be serving mulled wine and canapes this afternoon'
'I'd like a drink now!' Cathy disappeared and returned with a glass of water and two digestive biscuits. 'Ellesse' boomed the customer 'I'm spending a lot of money in here  and asked this person for a cup of tea and she's brought me water!'
'Ross, fetch Mrs. Sullivan a cup of tea immediately!'
'But there's only a little milk left for the staff coffee.'
'Then you can have yours black1 you probably need it that way!' Cathy hurried away and when she came back saw her boss packing gloves, evening bag and stole into a carrier bag having first wrapped them in tissue paper. Mrs Sullivan was trying on a pair of strappy evening sandals.
'Sugar?' she offered.
'No thank you.' As Cathy went to pass her the tea Mrs Sullivan stood up to see if the sandals were comfortable to walk in but overbalanced  nudging Cathy's hand and causing her to spill tea down the customer's skirt. 'You clumsy woman! That tea was hot!'
'Your skirt is thick and I'm sure it would stop the tea from burning your leg. It was an accident, you caught my hand and I couldn't do anything to stop the spillage. I'm very sorry.'
'Do you know who you are speaking to?' asked the boss.
'Mrs. Sullivan.'
'Yes and I happen to be the lady mayoress. I've had enough of you! Ellesse please put all this including the sandals on my bill and I'll pay on Wednesday when I pick the dress up.'
'Obviously there will be a substantial discount as you're spending so much and please let me have the bill for dry cleaning your skirt.'
Mrs Sullivan smiled and held out the bags to Cathy. 'The mayoral car is parked outside. Give these to my chauffeur!'
'It's good to see some people still have good manners ' she said as Ellesse held open the door for her and she flounced out. When Cathy came back Ellesse said ' Ross, I'm giving you your marching orders. I'll give you two weeks wages in lieu of notice and you can finish at the end of the day. It goes without saying that you will not get commission on that sale!'
'But spilling the tea was not entirely my fault and I said I was sorry!'
'It's not just about that. Clearly you had too much to drink last night and are not fit to work in my shop today. Now get into the stockroom and tidy the shelves. You are not to serve customers and if you know what's good for you stay away from the mulled wine!' Cathy was tempted to walk out without collecting her wages but knew that would be foolish. She still had her bar work and could help Bert more but to support the lifestyle she now favoured it was important  that she got another job as soon as possible.
norfolk dumpling aka loopylin

Offline norfolkdumpling

  • Steeplechasing Star
  • ******
  • Posts: 12583
Re: New Story- Cathy.
« Reply #10 on: January 04, 2023, 07:56:14 PM »
On Christmas Eve Cathy dressed in her best for her shift at the pub and flirted with the customers. One man, who was a stranger to her was spending money freely and when she finished her shift he was waiting outside.' Come back to me place darlin' and I'll show you a good time!'
Cathy knew her two flatmates were going to be away for Christmas and so she agreed. 'My name's Jim Bates love, what's yours?'At work they called her Kitty and as he might well have heard that she stuck to it but gave her surname as Patterson. The flat he took her to had just one bedroom and was situated near the docks. 'I work on the ships you see and can be away for months at a time. Only got another week and then I'm off to America.' 'Do you ever have stowaways?'  'Some, yes but I wouldn't advise you to try it if that's what you were thinking, captain is not too kind to any he finds!' 'Me- I'm sick on the ferry!' lied Cathy. Jim had a stash of alcohol and he and Cathy took full advantage of it. When he finally collapsed on the bed she caught sight of his still bulging wallet sticking out of his pocket and stretched out her hand towards it. She felt her wrist being grabbed and held in a vice like grip. 'Steal a man's hard earned cash would yer?' 'N no. i was just going to put it in your bedside drawer for safekeeping.'
'Get out yer trollop before I set the law on you' he said catching her a glancing blow on the cheek. She grabbed her coat and ran for the door not noticing that her own purse with her night's wages including many tips had fallen from her pocket. She went home, let herself into her flat and discovered her loss. Although she still had her earnings from the shop and her savings that money would have given her extra security. Her share of the rent was due so next morning she ate a good breakfast and did what was becoming the norm for her packed her things and left before her flatmates return. She dare not risk returning to the pub in case Jim went looking for her. As there were no buses on Christmas day she walked to Bert's tea stall which was open as he liked to be there for his regulars even on this special day. 'Hello Cath, where are you off to?'
'I dunno really Bert i just fancied a change.' 'You can give me a hand if you like. Gladys has upped and left me in the lurch. I reckon you'd like a cuppa on the house eh?' 'Thanks Bert. I'll be glad to give you a hand.' 'Would you like somewhere to stay over the holidays or are you off to your sisters?' 'Not likely, her and the old girl wouldn't want me around so I'd be glad to stay with you for a while. She knew if she went to Milly's she'd have to explain where Stevie was. It had been over 2 years since she'd last seen him and she'd not so much as sent him a birthday card.
Miles away, Christmas day at the orphanage started much the same as any other day with lumpy porridge for breakfast. Steve was now six years old and had given up hope of seeing his mum again. He badly wanted to escape and go to Jojo and Mike but he had no idea how far away the village was or even what it was called. After breakfast each child was given a parcel wrapped in newspaper. They opened them eagerly disappointed to find only the usual pack of crayons and a colouring book with a cheap plastic vehicle for the boys and cardboard cut out dolls with paper clothes for the girls. Then there were one new pair of socks and underwear not new but the next size up. On the dinner table there was a bowl with one tangerine each.
The food was a little better than normal, a small slice of chicken, a chipolata sausage, one roast potato, plenty of cabbage and a spoonful of peas and sliced carrots all covered in thin gravy. To drink there was a glass of milk instead of water and a mince pie. afterwards the tangerines were given out and they each put on a paper crown which they had made themselves from painted newspaper.
norfolk dumpling aka loopylin

Offline norfolkdumpling

  • Steeplechasing Star
  • ******
  • Posts: 12583
Re: New Story- Cathy.
« Reply #11 on: January 05, 2023, 09:07:52 PM »
After the meal they played gamed, Simon Says, I Spy and 'The Farmer's in his den' They played this several times and Steve always ended up as the dog who everyone patted- none too gently, then they put on their outdoor clothes and walked round the grounds for half an hour. Their clothes were thin and they were always cold. Tea was at 5 o'clock, fish paste sandwiches and a jam tart with the jam scarcely covering the bottom of the pastry case, another glass of milk and a small bar of chocolate. Thus ended Christmas day. They had a quick wash and were in their beds by 7pm, lights out at 7.30pm. The rising bell went at 6am. Usually they had lessons from 9-12 in school holidays but as it was Boxing day they were allowed outside to play for an hour after breakfast then read or colour till lunch. The books were old and dog eared but Steve loved looking at the pictures. He was just starting to read simple words and unlike most of the other children loved his time in the schoolroom soaking up what knowledge he could.
Cathy went home with Bert on Christmas day. He had assured her he had a spare bedroom and there would be no funny business. Although he was open all day from 10am Bert did most of his business in the early evening and always shut before the pubs turned out. Cathy spent a few hours each day looking for work but she only had references from the earliest places she'd worked and nothing from her last job. She had never returned to the pub in case either Jim or her flat mates came looking for her. She still had her smart clothes but no-one was willing to take a chance on her even when she explained that she had had a disagreement with her last boss and been dismissed unfairly. It was Bert who came up trumps. He knew a lady who owned a haberdashers and whose assistant had left to get married and help her husband with his hardware store. Bert vouched for Cathy and she was granted a months trial working 9-5 Monday- Saturday but with Thursdays off. She helped Bert on Thursday afternoons and Sunday evenings. Cathy enjoyed the shop work and when they were not busy she would knit items which were sold in the shop. She was a quick and neat knitter and she got a percentage of the price of each item sold. Her work was in demand. she soon had enough saved to get a room in a boarding house near the shop and it wasn't long before she started frequenting the nearby shops always making sure to stay well within her alcohol limits and not to go out with other customers.
Steve eventually made friends at the orphanage and became a protector of the younger ones when he was in his early teens. By the time he was 16 he could read and write well. The orphanage was in Yorkshire, the county where he had been born and he developed a local accent. When he had to leave they found him work on a local farm where there were horses. He worked hard and was allowed to sleep in one of the barns and eat with the family. All went well until the day he saw a man who was visiting the farm give his horse a beating.
norfolk dumpling aka loopylin

Offline norfolkdumpling

  • Steeplechasing Star
  • ******
  • Posts: 12583
Re: New Story- Cathy.
« Reply #12 on: January 06, 2023, 12:19:21 PM »
The one thing Steve couldn't stand was to see any animal mistreated or any human bullied. He had got into trouble more that once for standing up for someone who he thought was being unfairly treated by the staff. For his trouble he was made to stand on a chair in the schoolroom holding a large note saying 'I am a troublemaker.' The farmer he worked for taught him how to look after horses and do basic repairs to the farm machinery. He was given a small sum of money each week which he saved in an old tin. He would accompany the farmer to market and was allowed a few minutes to wander around by himself while the farmer conducted business. When he saw the man mistreating his horse and took the whip and used it to attack the man afterwards breaking it. He expected the farmer to take his side and tell the man he should not mistreat an animal. The farm animals were all treated kindly and so Steve was surprised when the police were called by the farmer himself and Steve found himself on an assault charge. He was dismissed from his job and had to find cheap lodgings until his case came up. He knew he would not be able to afford a fine if it was imposed but hoped the farmer would give him a good character reference. When the day of his hearing arrived the farmer was outside the court when Steve arrived. 'I'm sorry I can't help you lad. I'm a local magistrate myself and can't be seen to side with someone who's committed an offence. Steve already knew that the man he had attacked was a well respected businessman. The farmer said that as it was his first offence they would probably not be too hard on him. Steve pleaded guilty and when asked if he was sorry for what he'd done he said 'no and if I see anyone mistreating an animal I'll do it again!
In that case I have to see that you learn your lesson and mend your ways so you are sentenced to 2 years in a young offenders institution.
Two years! Steve thought that was a bit harsh but surely it could not be as bad as the orphanage- he couldn't have been more wrong. Discipline was harsh, the food worse and the other inmates already hardened by their experiences.
A few miles away Millie Robinson was reading her local newspaper when a name jumped out at her. 'Steven Ross'. Surely it couldn't be her nephew. The age was right. She'd not heard from her sister Cathy since Dan's funeral and had no idea where she was. Millie was determined to find out if this young man was indeed Cathy's son so she found out about the institution and visiting hours. She then had to fill in a form and make a definite date and time for her visit. It was only allowed once a month for half an hour on a Saturday afternoon. Milly completed the necessary paperwork and set off on the bus which stopped a few hundred yards from the entrance she needed. It was just before Christmas and she had left her elderly mother in the care of a neighbour. When Steve was told he had a visitor he hoped that Josie or his mother had read about his case but the lady who walked in was unknown to him although she did look a bit familiar. Millie was in no doubt that this was indeed her nephew as his resemblance to his late father was uncanny. 'Ee you won't remember me but I'm your aunt Millie,your mother, Cathy is my sister. We have met years ago when I came to your dad's funeral. Your gran and I live not far from here and I read about you in the paper. Steve looked at the floor. 'I suppose you think I'm a thug.'
'Nay lad, a bit misguided mebbe but not a thug. I reckon they were a bit harsh with you.'
'It's because I said I'd do it again- but that would only be if I saw an animal or a person being mistreated. It happens a lot in here and i have to be careful not to react or I could get more added to my sentence.'
'Can yer get it reduced if yer behave yersen?'
'I dunno. Have you seen my mum lately?'
'Not since the funeral love, how about you?' Steve told her about being left at the orphanage all those years ago and how his mother had not been in touch since. A warder came in to say their time was up. 'Sorry Steve, I'll have to go but would you like me to come again?'
'I would, yeah. It will give me something to look forward to.'
'I'll bring yer someat nice. I brought sweets this time but they wouldn't let me give them to you because I hadn't put it on my form.'
'Come on missus.' said the warder taking Millie by the arm. The visit had cheered Steve up no end. He had someone to care about him at last.

norfolk dumpling aka loopylin

Offline norfolkdumpling

  • Steeplechasing Star
  • ******
  • Posts: 12583
Re: New Story- Cathy.
« Reply #13 on: January 07, 2023, 10:27:13 AM »
Christmas came and went much the same as any other day except they were allowed more time out of their cells and went out in the exercise yard for longer. The food was also slightly better but there were no decorations except Christmas cards. Steve received one from his aunt and one from his gran which Millie had obviously written. January was bitterly cold and icy so Millie could not get to see him but she did write a letter to say she would visit as soon as the weather improved. The one good thing about his incarceration was that he was allowed to continue his education. Steve attended every class he could even those conducted by the local vicar including the Sunday service. Everything that kept him from the incredible boredom of being on his own was acceptable but the thing he enjoyed most was basic motor mechanics.
Cathy meantime had moved on to a better job and into  bedsit but she still kept in touch with Bert. The shop was in the heart of the city in the midst of offices and her accommodation was a bus ride away. As she was coming out of work one rainy evening a car drove past into a puddle which sprayed water all over her and soaked her coat which had blown open in the wind which meant her skirt was soaked too. A man coming out of a nearby office had seen what had happened and went over to her. 'What an idiot to drive like that!' he said. 'Have you far to go?' 'My bus stop is just round the corner.' The rain was still falling and Cathy felt truly miserable. 'Let me drive you home, you'll catch a chill waiting around in this. You'll be perfectly safe, my name is Paul Graham and that's my firm- Graham Associates. We deal in real estate. As he spoke he was ushering her to an underground car park. Cathy gasped as he propelled her to a sleek black Jaguar. 'I can't possibly mess your car up. I'll just shelter here for a while if you don't mind. ' Paul opened the car door and took two black plastic sacks from the back seat placing one on each front seat. 'Nonsense- in you get Miss? ' 'I'm Katherine Ross.' When they reached her digs Cathy said. 'Thanks for the lift Mr. Graham. I'd ask you in but I wouldn't want to keep you from your family.' 'Sadly I have no family. My wife died two years ago and we were not blessed with children. I am however expecting a very important telephone call. My business is not 9-5 and I sometimes work from home in the evenings so I'll bid you goodnight. I expect I'll see you again as you work close to my office.' Cathy thanked him again and hurried indoors. Although her job paid well Cathy enjoyed spending her money on nice things. She got staff discount from the shop but things were still very expensive from there. The electricity supply to her bedsit was metred and she often ran out of coins to feed the metre. Bert often lent her money and she paid it back by working for him in the evenings. To save on heating she would go to a local pub when she wasn't working for Bert and there was usually someone to buy her a drink. After the incident with Jim she was careful to keep things on a friendly basis. She was very attractive still and could easily have formed a relationship but resisted the temptation.
norfolk dumpling aka loopylin

Offline norfolkdumpling

  • Steeplechasing Star
  • ******
  • Posts: 12583
Re: New Story- Cathy.
« Reply #14 on: January 08, 2023, 03:22:49 PM »
One evening as she left the shop Paul Graham was just leaving his office building. 'Miss Ross, nice to meet you in the dry weather. I'm just going to get a quick bite in 'Delrays'. Would you care to join me. It's not much fun eating on your own- my treat of course.'
'Well if you're sure, I'd love to but I'm hardly dressed for 'Delrays'. 'Nonsense you are always turned out well for work. I've often seen you in smart outfits now the weather has turned warmer. It was indeed  a quick bite as Paul was expecting an international phone call at 8pm.The food was delicious. Cathy often went without lunch as she was left in charge of the shop while the owner went for hers and said she was okay as she had brought sandwiches. She helped herself to the good coffee  and a couple of chocolate biscuits to see her through the afternoon. Paul looked at her empty plate. 'It's good to see someone enjoying their food. I'm sorry there's no time for dessert or coffee if I'm to get you home before I need to get my paperwork ready for the call.'
'I can easily catch the bus' said Cathy, in fact she was going to walk halfway so she had a coin left for the meter.
'Nonsense, it's no trouble. I've enjoyed our evening, we must do it again sometime.'
Cathy smiled to herself as she let herself in to her bedsit. She liked Paul Graham. He was good company as well as being easy on the eye and obviously well heeled. She decided to splash out on a new outfit for herself from the shop which even with staff discount left her a bit short of cash. Needing money for the meter she slid some coins under a ledger on the counter when giving a customer their change. Having got away with it she began to do this more often- not every day and never a large amount but enough for the meter. Bert always had something tasty for her so she hoped she could manage till next pay day. She found different places to hide the money which she always took in the morning near lunchtime and transferred it to her purse when the owner was at lunch. It became obvious to the owner that the amount in the till sometimes did not quite tally with the amount she expected when cashing up at the end of the day. As Cathy was the only assistant she began to keep a close watch on her and inevitably caught her in the act. When she was challenged Cathy said she only wanted change for the meter and was going to put the money back from her wages, it was after all a very small amount. 'If this was the first time I might have given you the benefit of the doubt but it's the second time this week and the till receipts and the amount in the cash have not tallied several times lately. You can leave at the end of the day. I'll pay you up till the end of the week but no more and don't expect a reference!' When Cathy left that night she had a doleful expression on her face and Paul Graham noticed. 'Something wrong Katherine? ' he asked. 'The boss has given me notice and all over a misunderstanding. She spun him the change for the meter yarn not expecting that he would go into a lady's dress shop to query things.
'Never mind, you'll soon get another job. Come and have a coffee with me, sorry I haven't time for a meal but I'll see you home. '
'Once again Cathy did a moonlight and ended up back with Bert spinning him the same story as she had Paul.
'If you want a better life Cath, marry me.' he said one night as they sat drinking cocoa.
'Nah- I like you too much.'
'I mean it Cath. you can cook and clean for me and help at the stall. The customers all like you. I'll see you want for nothing.'
'I don't want to be tied down Bert. I'm a free spirit!'
'Ok but let me know if you change your mind.
norfolk dumpling aka loopylin