A Chapter by Peter Rogerson

Ophelia has something to tell Josiah, and suggests something she might possibly want


I thought it would be nice to get a computer to use at home,” suggested Ophelia out of the blue over breakfast one morning in autumn. It was a couple of years since Josiah had been troubled by the murder of his first love and ever since that traumatic event he had been more subdued than before, as though it had left a stain on his life.

He looked up. “What on Earth for?” he asked, “we’ve never needed anything of the sort before.”

We’ve got one in the office,” frowned Ophelia, “and it makes things like writing letters and accounts and so on a darned sight easier. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could type your sermons and print them onto paper before you drone on every Sunday?”

I don’t drone!”

You know what I mean. And by the way, I think I’m pregnant...”

That took more than mere moments to sink in. Then, “say that again!”

I said you know what I mean and I think I’m pregnant.”

You think … you think … hasn’t somebody told you?”

Who do you think might be in a position to tell me? My fairy godmother? The Queen of Spades? Laura at the corner shop?” Ophelia smiled at him rather coyly as she spoke. She had learned not to be impatient with him and his occasionally obscure way of looking at the world. It had to be obscure, she thought, because of the odd things he believed in. He still gave utter credence to serpents in trees in impossible gardens, so belief that his wife might be pregnant might come as a shock of reality sticking its nose into between his more esoteric notions.

But how?” he asked.

I wonder how many simple minded men have asked that questions of their plumping wives?” she sighed. “I mean, how many men have utterly failed to associate some of the fascinating past-times they get up to after dark with the arrival of little people in maternity wards?”

I know that!” he reasoned, “I’m perfectly aware of the biology of the thing … but how?”

You never fail to surprise me, my darling husband,” she sighed, “but let me see and I’ll try to explain. One night, no, actually quite a few nights, you’ve approached me quite closely both at night when we’ve snuggled into bed and in the morning when the sun’s been rising over the spinney trees, and perfectly natural things have happened. Interesting things. Close things. Intimate things … and that’s how it happened. I shouldn’t have to explain that to a man who believes the entire Universe and everything in it was created in seven days by a bearded bloke in the skies!”

But … what’s that got to do with having a computer? Aren’t they huge things that need an annex all to themselves and a small power station to keep going?”

They used to be,” she acknowledged, “ages ago. But things change. Technology shrinks things, and now we’ve got one in the office and its got a thirteen amp plug on it rather than needing access to its own power station. But seriously it means when I make a typing error I can put it right before it goes anywhere near a sheet of paper. If nothing else, it’s environmentally friendly, what with no waste paper. And it can do other things too. You should see the spread sheet I’m coming to terms with! And the database that doesn’t need retyping every time we make a change to it. You could use a database for your parishioners so that you know who does what without having to ask every time you see them!”

I’ve got a brain and I remember things,” he grunted. “How do you know you’re pregnant? Did the computer tell you that?”

It might have done if I’d asked it, but I’m a woman and we women know these things,” she smiled. “Like my periods have stopped and yet I’m not in my menopause. And I get this sick feeling in the mornings, you must have heard of them, bouts of morning sickness. But I’ll go and see Dr Practise if you like, and he’ll confirm it. I’ll probably need supplements anyway, iron tablets and the like, to make sure that your son arrives in the world all fit and healthy.”

Or daughter. It might be a daughter.”

It might. A daughter would be nice.”

So would a son.” He was lost, and she knew it, and she smiled.

It doesn’t really matter,” she sighed, “I’ll say what every prospective parent says, as long as he or she is healthy it doesn’t really matter which it is.”

And this computer you want…?”

I didn’t say I wanted one! I suggested that it would make life easier for both of us if we had one, and when I’m on maternity leave I might even be able to earn a few shekels by doing some of my work at home.”

How could you do that?”

She shrugged. “Type letters dictated at the office onto tape and collected every week by my ever-loving husband so that I can transfer the words onto paper using my own lovely shiny computer.”

But can’t you just type things on a typewriter if that’s what you want?” he asked, confused.

Have you heard how much noise a typewriter makes?” she asked, “they clatter along like mad things with bells ringing all the time, and me trying to help a baby to sleep.”

Of course I know what they’re like. There’s one in my office. I use one, for goodness’ sake!”

But wouldn’t you prefer to use a computer? They’re so quiet you could hear a pin drop while you’re using it. And then, when you’ve written your sermon and sent a missive to the Bishop neatly printed on headed notepaper and filled in whatever you need to fill in, say on a database, you can have a game of Space Invaders in order to calm down and marvel at the miracles of modern science!”

What’s Space Invaders?”

You must have heard of Space Invaders! It’s a game you find in pubs and arcades! You put a shilling into a slot and the screen lights up with space invaders that must be shot down before the game ends.”

It sounds pretty pointless to me!”

They say it’s addictive. Like religion or drugs.” She smiled at him and whispered “but there are other games if Space Invaders is too much for you. You most certainly don’t have to play Space Invaders if it’s too violent.”

He sighed a long, long sigh. “What would my father have said?” he muttered, pouring himself a second cup of tea. “He would have had a fit at the notion of technology going anywhere near his precious sermons. I dared say they’ll even have babies and put computers in front of them one day, though if that happens it’ll be time for me to hang up my dog collar and go to live in a madhouse!”

Don’t say too much along those lines,” she said quietly, “because the future is always one step ahead of our dreams, and who knows what might come true sooner than soon...”

And you’re going to see the doctor? Practise is a good chap and anything he says will be spot on.”

I’ll see him,” she smiled, “because I’ve a feeling that what I’ve caught is a darned sight more than a cold!”

He had changed the subject, but that didn’t matter. She eyed him curiously. She loved him, of course she did, but he could be such an odd ball and in some ways an old fogey with absolutely no imagination at all.

But one thing you could say of him was patently true. Despite his religion, which she would never understand however hard she tried to, and together with his personal simple outlook on life, he was nonetheless extremely good in bed.

And that mattered. It mattered one heck of a lot!

© Peter Rogerson 07.04.18

© 2018 Peter Rogerson

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Added on April 7, 2018
Last Updated on April 7, 2018
Tags: Josiah Pyke, vicar, pregnant, computer, typing, work



Peter Rogerson
Peter Rogerson

Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, United Kingdom

I am 78 years old, but as a single dad with four children that I had sole responsibility for I found myself driving insanity away by writing. At first it was short stories (all lost now, unfortunately.. more..