“A special dress.”

“I just wanted, not an evening dress, a nice, special dress. But can you find one? They’re like hen’s teeth.

He’s waited so long for promotion, he has. It’s ridiculous the way he’s been passed over. I mean it’s not long until he retires, that is if they don’t make him redundant first. You never know, these days.

It might be the last works do we go to and you know what I’m like about spending money but Tom insisted, wouldn’t take no for an answer.

 “There’s five pounds,” he said. “Go to Manchester and buy yourself something special for a change. You deserve it.”

 Well, I went up and down Oxford Street all day. Could I find what I was looking for? Honestly, I don’t know who they think they’re catering for these days. Anybody would think if you’re passed 50, you’re finished. It’s all so dowdy. Horrible. Nothing for the fuller figure. I saw one or two things but nothing that I wanted to try on, nothing special. Well, nothing I wanted to spend money on. The thing is, I know it was nice of Tom but I’d rather he hadn’t, really. It seems a lot of money-five pounds-to spend on a dress but you know what these do’s are like, everybody dresses up; it’s like a competition. It’s all right for the men; they only have to wear a suit.

I don’t think Bill really minds what I wear but he’s mentioned Brenda Parker once or twice.

“Brenda Parker’s always smart,” he said, “Well turned out, not flashy, just nice, you know?”

 She should be on the money her husband earns. He’s the general manager, been with the firm for years, he’s one of the partners. Mind you, she’s kept her figure. They never had any children. I’ve never liked to ask. I think they tried but it’s too late now, I should think.

They could have had one of ours. Not that I’d have parted with them really but you know what I mean?

She’s nice is Brenda. A bit of a flirt but fun, you know?

Not that Tom would notice. He can’t stand people commenting on what other people say or do.

I suppose that’s one of the reasons he hasn’t got on, really. He doesn’t mix.

Still, maybe the promotion will help. He’ll have 20 people under him. I hope he’ll be all right. He bottles things up, you see. Doesn’t like telling people off. He comes out in a rash, sometimes.  Young Doctor Woods thinks it might be work related.

Tom just laughed at that, said it was only a shaving rash and sat there twiddling his thumbs round and round.

I don’t know. I hope he’ll be all right.

Anyway, I’d like to look nice for him at Christmas. At the do, I mean. It will be the first one he has been to as an Inspector.

If it were down to me, I’d spend the money on the grandchildren.

 I gave up in the end. Manchester is always so busy and it costs an arm and a leg if you even sit down and have a cup of tea.

I thought I might find something back here. British Home Stores have one or two nice things. You know, plain but stylish.

I got fed up with traipsing up and down Oxford Street. I tried, I really did. I kept thinking of Tom. I knew he’d want to see what I’d bought with his money.

 He’d said, “Why not try, Debenhams? Brenda Parker gets some of her stuff from there.  I heard her talking about it to some of the girls in the office.”

Honestly, men have no idea. How does he think I could afford to shop at Debenhams?

I had to laugh.

Silly, really but it must have been playing on my mind ‘cause when I was coming home on the bus I glanced out of the window and for a second, I could’ve sworn I saw Tom coming out of a pub with some woman. Gave me quite shock. I knew it couldn’t be him; of course, he’d be at work. He never stops; he’s always so busy. But then I realized it was Brenda Parker. Don’t know who the man was.

 I wanted to tell Tom about it when he got home but he was a bit late, nearly 7 o’clock. His tea had gone cold and I forgot to mention it.

He looked really tired. Said he was so sorry but he didn’t want any tea, anyway. I told him he’d better have an early night.

 I didn’t mind because there was something I wanted to listen to on the radio.

 I was lucky; he didn’t even mention the dress. Too much on his mind, I suppose.

I nearly told him about me imagining seeing him and Brenda Parker in Oxford Street, give him something to laugh about but I didn’t want to bother him, poor love.

 Isn’t it funny how the mind plays tricks?”


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