The Jolly Boys

Shirley Stephenson is a bored housewife who never stops day in day out, its the same humdrum existence. Bob her husband is a lazy good for nothing. who lost his leg in an industrial accident and is claiming benefit fraudulently. he keeps her short and moans because she goes to the bingo. Shirley finds the courage to file for a divorce and free herself. her life is suddenly transformed after she finds all of the compensation that Bob has been hiding from her. she orders a taxi she takes £30.000 and takes a box with some things that her gran had left her.

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“Sorry,’ it’s Margaret, Margaret Stephenson.’

Keith shook her hand then seemed as if he was struggling for something to say. He looked at her then said “Well Margaret,’ I come in here most afternoons so if you need any help you know where to find me.’

“That’s good to know because I’m struggling at the moment and I could use all the help I can get.’

“Do you mind if I have a look, looking through her books Keith began to make suggestions and with his pencil and made some corrections in the margin.

“You make it sound very easy.’

“It is really, said Keith once you know what you are doing.’ 

“What line of business are you going into.’

“My mother’s actually, she is a property developer and I will be keeping the books and helping to run the business. “What about you?’

“I’m studying to take on the responsibility of running my father’s business.’

“What is it he does?’

“My father owns the Compaq Computer Company.’

“Wow! that’s big, isn’t it?’

“Yes, my father sells computers all over the world.’

“It’s a growing market and we envisage by the year 1995 every household will own a computer of some sort.’ We are living in a technological world Margaret. Where just at the click of a button large business deals can be done via the computer. Before long messages will be sent via the computer around the world in a Nano second. My job will be to design a programme to track the growth market. I will design pie charts that will predict the amount of money the company will make over a five- year period. That way my father can expand and spend more money on the production of a portable computer that you can carry around with you. They will look just like a book but will be able to be used anywhere. There will be a portable battery source and a mains connection too so you can use them anywhere.

“Are you going to design it.’

“Yes,’ I hope to.’ Actually, I’ve already made a start would you like to see some of my ideas?’

“Yes, I would.’

Keith took out another book from his case that he was carrying and opened it to show her the scaled drawings and specifications.

“Can you imagine how that will help Keith. Students would be able to access any book via a computer and do all their dissertations on this portable notebook too.’

“Notebook, I like that name.’

“They sat talking for over three hours until Margaret said that she would have to go.’

“I’ll see you in here tomorrow then Margaret.’

“Thanks for all of your help Keith.’

“Anytime,’

Margaret picked up the notebook and her pencil then placed them into her bag then said goodbye.’

Keith watched her as she left the library. He hoped he would see her again tomorrow.

Margaret went to the toilet then out to the car park and got into her car. She sat for a moment then looked at herself in the mirror. She applied some lipstick and then started the car she drove out of the car park and was driving along past the Civic Centre when she spotted Keith walking to a nearby bus stop. She pulled up to where he was standing and wound down the window.

“Do you need a lift, I can drop you if you like.’

“Thank you, your so kind.’

“Keith got in and Margaret checked behind using her mirror before proceeding.’

“Where do you live?’

“I have a flat near Newton Park; do you know where it is?’

“Just direct me and I’ll get you there.’

“Do you live far from here?’

“I have a house in Whitley Bay.’ On Park Avenue, do you know it.’

“I know Whitley bay is.’

 Margaret drove past Jesmond and down past Armstrong Bridge. She carried on past the people’s theatre until she came to a junction.

“Please turn left here and carry on straight up this road.’

Margaret obeyed, passing Sainsbury’s supermarket then on towards Newton Park.

“It’s the third house on the left Margaret; if you are not in a hurry to get home I would like to invite you in for a coffee.’

 Thank you for the offer Keith but I’ve got to go down to my mother’s and sort out a few things. She’s on her way back from the Maldives as we speak. “Look why don’t you come with me and I can cook you something to eat.’ “I hope I’m not being to forward Keith.

“No, not at all, are you sure, I mean I don’t want to put you out or anything?’

“It’s no trouble really, I would have just been studying on my own anyway.’

“Do you not go out with anybody, I hope your boyfriend doesn’t mind me calling in.’

“I don’t have a boyfriend.’

“I don’t either, he laughed and said I don’t have a girlfriend I mean.’

“Just relax Keith I don’t bite you know, you seem pretty tense.’

“I’m sorry Margaret, I’m just not used to being in the company of a beautiful woman.’

“Me,’ beautiful, have you got your glasses on Keith.’

“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.’

“You flatter me.’

“I think you are very pretty.’

“Why aren’t the girls all chasing you then Keith?’

“I’ve never looked at any of the girls at the university until today when I looked into your eyes.’

“Why am I cockeyed or something?’

“Why do you make fun of yourself?’

“Because I’m not used to men giving me compliments maybe that’s why.’ 

“So, have you ever had a boyfriend?’

“Yes,’ at school you know; but all they were interested in was getting their hands inside my knickers.’

“Keith’s face reddened; “I had a girlfriend when I was ten, she was called Sally and I met her on holiday in the Lake District. I was pretty slow you know with girls and that and she kissed me one afternoon.’

“Of course, I was madly in love with her after that and we used to write to each other. She lived in Skipton in Yorkshire. We used to go everywhere together hand in hand. They left after two weeks and I promised to write to her. For nearly two years I sent her letters and she wrote me back but her writing seemed to get worse as time went on and I wondered why.’

“When I was twelve the letters stopped. I carried on writing to her until one day her mother wrote to me to tell me that Sally had a rare form of cancer and had died.’

“Oh, that’s so sad.’

“It took me a long time to get over Sally’s death. I threw myself into my school work and went to college. I went out on a couple of dates but never felt anything. You know a kind of spark.’

Driving down beach road Margaret wondered if Keith had slept with anyone; he was very shy and she thought that she would have to make the first move or he would only remain a friend. Keith was a lot taller than her and lean looking. He had natural curly black hair. He had green eyes and looked a lot better with his glasses off. He dressed pretty plainly for a young lad. He was smartly dressed but looked more like a toff with a white shirt, blue striped tie, and a cardigan that his mother must have knitted for him some years ago. His trousers were just plain black and he wore leather brogues.

Margaret found out that Keith was twenty-two.  He had a sister called Henrietta who had been married and was 30 years of age.  His mother was called Elizabeth and his father Edward.

They lived in Kent and Margaret wondered why Keith had travelled up here to study rather than go to Oxford or Cambridge.

 “What is your father like Keith?’

“He’s a wise man Margaret, very intelligent and ruthless in business. He was strict but fair with me not that I saw a lot of him. He was always working late and I was usually put to bed by my mother.

“Was your father affectionate?’

“No not really, the only time he patted me on the back was when I scored sixty runs for the school cricket team.’

“What about now?’

“I think he is proud of me in his own way.’

“What about your mother, did she show you any affection.’

“Oh yes mother used to smother Henri and I with kisses. My father didn’t like her to show us affection in front of father though. My mother and father were never tactile or affectionate towards each other.’

“Henri got married when she was only twenty- one, much to my father’s behest. He said that she was too young to marry.’

“Does your sister still live near her parents?’

No,’ she divorced five years after marrying William Webb a barrister. She lives in Harrogate now.’

“She is a designer in the clothing industry and much sought after. She makes dresses for the duchess of Kent. William left her the house after he sought the company of other men, if you know what I mean.’

“So, he was homosexual.’

“Yes, he used my sister as a cover for his own sexual preferences.’

“What about your parents Margaret?’

“My mother divorced my father last year, they should have done it long before then as she was just a slave to my father. He lost his leg in an industrial accident and from then on, he changed. He was aggressive and began to drink heavily. He was secretive and when mam left him she discovered that he’d received a larger amount of money in compensation that he said he’d been given. He was on lots of benefits from the Social Security and withdrew all of his money and hid it. He never declared it so mam took £30.000 when she left. My great grandmother left her some paintings and Chinese bowls and vases. They turned out to be very valuable and now she is a wealthy woman. She bought me this house we are now coming to on the right and this car. I receive an allowance each month from her. She paid for me to go to university. I was working on the tills in Iceland in North Shields before that.’

My brother Jimmy is studying to but has no desire to go into business, especially in the building trade. He is like my father.

 He gambles a lot but unlike my father who puts the odd twenty on the horses he spends hundreds of pounds at the casino. Margaret got out of the car and walked up the pathway to her house.

“You have a lovely garden Margaret.’

“My mother pays someone to come and look after it for me. Please come in but if you wouldn’t mind would you remove your shoes as there are wooden floors everywhere that are highly polished and they mark so easily. There are some slippers there that will fit you.’ Margaret removed her shoes and put on her slippers then led Keith into the beautifully decorated room with modern furniture. She put on the electric fire and then went into the kitchen.

“Would you like a glass of wine?’

“No thanks, I don’t drink wine.’

“A beer then?’

“A cup of tea would be nice.’

“Take your coat off and make yourself at home.’

“Do you eat meat,’ You’re not a vegetarian, are you?’

No, I’m partial to a nice pork chop, sausage, and chips with tomato sauce.’

“My type of man then.’

Margaret placed four pork chops, some sausage and a piece of Fillet steak onto a tray then put some frozen chips onto another tray and they went in the oven. would you like a fried egg too?’

“Yes please, I never ate lunch today.’

“I noticed; no wonder you are so thin.’

“I only eat well at dinner, in the morning I eat toast and then I usually eat one sandwich and an apple or banana.’

Margaret brought him a pot of tea on a tray with a cup and saucer, milk and sugar, and a spoon.

“Please,’ help yourself Keith.’

Keith poured a little milk into the cup then poured the tea but did not take sugar. He gently stirred then set down the spoon onto the tray and took a sip from the cup.’

“This house is very nice I must say and the gardens are wonderful.’

“Do you like gardening.’

“Oh yes, my grandfather had a lovely walled garden in Kent. It is not called “The Garden of England” for nothing you know.’

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