Story

Spring/Summer Collection 2001

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A weekend in Gloucestershire with Patrick sounded all right in theory. Faye had heard all about his parents' country house the place where he'd spent all his school holidays clambering about in haystacks and wallowing in the stream. It would be interesting to meet Mr. and Mrs. Pelham at last could it really have been a year since that first date? The occasion was to be a christening. Patrick, quite at odds with his usual easy-going self, kept not-so-subtly mentioning in passing his parents' obsession with good manners, correct dress and their insistence on jolly-hockey-sticks, pull-your-socks-up, stiff-upper-lip demeanour at all times. With each comment the thought of two days surrounded by birdsong and rolling green hills began to seem less and less relaxing. Surely they couldn't be all that bad. On arriving Faye and Patrick were handed a glass of sparkling bucks fizz, the sweet, sharp taste of which slightly took the edge off Mrs. Pelham's piercing gaze and made Mr. Pelham's awkward winks a little less embarrassing. When Faye excused herself to visit the bathroom she couldn't help hearing, as she ascended the staircase, Mrs. Pelham's stage-whispered, 'I suppose she's quite a presentable little thing.' Patrick, in his family setting, was an altogether new man. The word 'obedience' could hardly cover his cringing submission to his

mother's will. He almost seemed to enjoy being bossed around by her. At the party he was treated as little more than a butler, constantly being ordered to top up drinks and hand around canapˇs. Was Mrs. Pelham just keeping him busy to steer him out of Faye's clutches? Meanwhile Mr. Pelham kept trying to corner the newcomer and press her with questions about her job, her school, her family and the nature of her relationship with their precious only son. It was more than Faye could bear. What business was it of theirs what her father did and which University she went to? Patrick was just a boyfriend and a rather unreliable one at that. Did they seriously imagine she was so desperate to marry him? The truth was that, in this new environment, she was finding it harder and harder to remember what she ever saw in him. Was that a telephone she remembered on her bedside table? How nice it would be to sneak off and speak to another human being. Faye pondered the likelihood of James being at home.

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