4. NUMBERS FIVE AND SIX SWANSDOWN COTTAGES.

4. NUMBERS FIVE AND SIX SWANSDOWN COTTAGES.

A Chapter by Peter Rogerson
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A fisherman and a teacher move in....

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Jack Bismouth had risked his life at sea many times. He was master of a small fishing boat that spent year after year trawling the North Sea, and many were the times when the weather had turned against him and the seas had been violent with salty rage. Many were the bruises and breakages he’d suffered, and many were the hours when his beautiful wife Diane spent in unknowing worry, almost pulling her own hair it with anxiety. There were two plagues that tormented her mind. Firstly, that his ship might be wrecked and he lost to the frantic briny and secondly that he might return with no catch, and no catch meant no pennies.

Her own job, as Teaching Assistant in the small primary school filled to overflowing with fishermen’s kids, wasn’t paid well enough to support the two of them and their own two children, Robin and Stacey. It was pin money, for her, as well as a therapy for when her husband was at sea.

Time passed and Robin and Stacey grew up, beautifully educated, and even when Jack, scowling, almost insisted, Robin said he would have nothing to do with his father’s footsteps or the family business.

He wanted to be a geologist, and that had to be that. So he went to University, a good one, and got a first class honours degree in Geology and but for this brief mention leaves this story. Stacey, on the other hand, did follow in her mother’s footsteps until she got married and pregnant in her late teens and moved away to live in a semi in Droitwich.

Several injuries, one or two of them serious, had their toll over the years on Jack, and he sold up whilst still in his fifties, soon after the kids left home, and pottered in and around his small garden, lost from the sea.

He enjoyed pottering. It didn’t have the thrill of the savage ocean, but then it didn’t cause broken limbs and lacerated flesh. And it was something to do, and he needed that.

All was well until one of those storms that can rage down the East coast combined with an unusually high spring tide and attacked the land with a ferocity that is almost unbelievable. And one particularly virulent storm battered the coast near where the Bismouths lived until their home was threatened and actual damage was done.

Indeed, some houses were almost wrenched from the land and dashed into the seas, and one woman died as her bed was flung out as she somehow slept.

That’s it,” said Diane when the roaring and the howling of salty foam were over and done with until the next time, “I don’t know about you, Jack Bismouth, but I’m not staying here one week longer! The next storm could see the end of us for good and all!”

He looked at her, and nodded. He didn’t need to stay near the sea any longer. He’d loved it, of course he’d loved it, loving the seas is what fishermen do, but it had deceived him one time too many, and that woman had died. If it had been his Diane he knew that he would have been bereft. As if was they had both survived the nightmare, and he knew that next time the storm might consume the two of them in its savage anger.

I’ll be off to see what’s about,” he said to her, “and I’ll go this very day!”

Anywhere well beyond the reach of all that watery anger,” she said, and accepted early retirement from her job that very day.

He called in at the seaman’s club where beers and even wines were cheaper than in pubs, and studied the notice board in the hope that he might find a place for them to live that was far enough from the coast to be safe from the sea’s wrath, and his eyes lit on a small notice advertising cottages for rent. It was the same of the place that attracted him. Swansdown Cottages. He might give them a ring and see if there were any left untenanted.

Later that day he returned to Diane in triumph.

We’re moving,” he told her, “soon as maybe! I’ve found us a cottage away from the briny on a posh estate called Swansdown Manor and I’ve put in for number five!”

oo0oo

David Smith knew it was time to call an end to his employment at Parklands Comprehensive School when one of the fifth form girls spread a lie that he had, as she put it, tried to touch her up. It was an absolute lie, he was hard put to even recall who that particular girl might be as he only taught her class for one hour a week, but mud sticks. He knew that. It had stuck on Jenkins, the science bod, last year, and look what had happened to him.

She’s tried it before,” the Headmaster told him, “and I don’t believe a word of it. She’s a mischievous and rather naughty individual who in the good old days would have been given six of the best for her insolence ... but I’ve got to ask...”

And put it on my record, no doubt,” snapped David.

Not everything goes on records,” soothed the Head, “and there’s quite a chance that this won’t. But tell me … did you, er, she has got quite a pronounced bosom, I noticed, yes quite pronounced indeed, quite possible to accidentally, you know ...”

Of course I didn’t, not even accidentally!”

You’re sure of that? You didn’t squeeze past her in a doorway, something like that?”

I don’t even know exactly who she is, and anyway I don’t squeeze past people in doorways!”

Well, just be careful. You know what it’s like these days. I blame the Internet myself. Too much smut going on, too many tales being told that shouldn’t be told. You’ve just got to keep your distance from these kids these days.”

I want to apply for early retirement,” said David, out of the blue. He hadn’t even thought about it before he said it, but he did know there had been a circular that mentioned early retirement as a means of reducing the Education Bill in an area where school rolls were falling rapidly. And suddenly the blue horizon of endless days and no pesky kids spoiling them formed itself like a fait accompli in his mind.

I wouldn’t do that...” advised the Headmaster, frowning, “it sounds like you’re confessing to something rather seedy by running away, and that the complaint had something behind it to make you rush to the hills...”

No. I’ve had my belly full. I want out!” David insisted, and he scowled at the Head. “When I started in this job a man knew what was what, and now he doesn’t. Life’s too short to be messed about by lying kids out to make trouble.”

The Head shook his head. What could he do? And anyway, he had to reduce staff numbers and a voluntary early retirement was better than one forced on a keen young teacher on a last in, first out basis.

From the office David Smith went straight home and told Josephine all about it.

A schoolgirl!” she exclaimed, “I know you too well to think there’s anything in it, but well I never!”

And there isn’t,” he rumbled, “but it’s the sort of thing that’s hard to live down. Take old Jenkins last year when that boy accused him of touching him in the balls, begging your pardon. He was forced out with a huge fuss and denial, and died soon afterwards, a broken heart, they said, and I know for a fact that he was nowhere near the bloody kid when the little scrota said it happened, because I was with him!”

Then I’ll retire too,” she said, “physiotherapy is for younger women than me, and I can carry on as a masseur at home.”

But not anywhere near here,” muttered David, “I just want to get well away from this damned area. I’ve got this sour taste in my mouth when I think of it...”

Move? We’ve been here for ever!” said a surprised Josephine. “I don’t think I … but maybe… maybe it might do us both good. Get a new start, something fresh. Sell this house and find somewhere smaller, maybe, and fresh air. In the country? I’ve always fancied living in the country, away from the fumes of cars and lorries, away from the crowds...”

I like the idea of a new start,” he sighed, “though aren’t we a bit old for any kind of actual start?”

You’re only fifty-odd,” she pointed out, “that’s the new twenty-one!”

Fifty nine,” he growled, “I sometimes feel ancient, But yes, a new start in the country. I think I’ll write a book.”

She smiled at him. “And I’ll get a few new clients for my masseur business,” she said, “I think I’m already making plans...”

All of which led to them discovering and moving in to No. Six, Swansdown Cottages as soon as they possibly could.

© Peter Rogerson 31.01.19



© 2019 Peter Rogerson


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Added on January 31, 2019
Last Updated on January 31, 2019
Tags: trawler, fisherman, spring tide, storm, comprehensive school false accus

LEAVING SWANSDOWN


Author

Peter Rogerson
Peter Rogerson

Forest Town, Nottinghamshire, United Kingdom



About
I am 77 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..

Writing