Copyright© 2011 Angharad
All Rights Reserved.
The next morning at breakfast, Jenny eventually appeared, complete with shiner. The kids were out messing about in the garden and although I sympathised with her position and the embarrassment she carried as a consequence, I felt that had she come down with everyone they could all have asked how she got it and it would have all been done with. Now she would prolong the agony as everyone asked her individually—oh well, her choice. I told her trying to mask it with concealer would look even worse—if she wanted to hide it, get an eye-patch, she’d look like Captain Pugwash, but that’s up to her.
In the end she went out to the garden and spoke to all the children. When she came back in, I asked what she’d said to them. “The truth. I told her I had an argument with my boyfriend and he hit me, consequently he was my ex-boyfriend. They all thought hitting me was unreasonable and supported my ditching him.”
“Good, I’ve taught them something then.”
“About relationships or hitting women?”
“Hitting anyone does not advance your argument and shows a clear lack of logical thought, which is far more powerful than violence. It might not be as gratifying, but more useful.”
“Gratifying?” she looked disconcerted.
“Yeah—what’s that old joke, frustration is the feeling experienced when you are unable to beat the shit out of some arsehole who so richly deserves it.”
“Really, Cathy, you are quite violent, aren’t you?”
“Only by inclination. In practice I control my feelings quite well—well those sort anyway.”
“Have you ever hit anyone then?”
“My boxing skills are very poor, but I’m reasonable at kick-boxing.”
“Wow—could you show me?”
“Stella taught me the basics, but she seems to have stopped doing it since—it’s a good workout and might come in handy.”
“You’ve kicked someone then?”
“It’s helped me a few times—I’m not violent, but I don’t run away if it confronts me.”
“Wow, you’re a real revelation.”
“I thought everyone knew about it.”
“No—can we do some?”
“Later, we have chores to do and children to amuse as well as feed. Perhaps later on.”
Which was what we did—the chores—feeding offspring and amusing them. Finally, when they went off to do something else—burning down the neighbours house or sheep rustling—we changed and went out to the shed with the sandbag hanging there and I showed her a few basic kicks and about balance—I read a lot of this on the internet—in all martial arts, balance is essential or you end up missing your kicks or being unable to avoid your opponents.
We spent about half an hour and were both dripping with sweat by the time we finished. Jenny thought it was exhausting, but really good. It was the best work out I’d had for a long time—and I expected to be stiff the next morning—I must do it more often as well as cycling.
I showered and got dinner—it’s funny, when I was a poor student, I’d only occasionally buy a chicken and eat it for five or six meals, now it disappears in one. Admittedly, I’m no longer poor nor do I eat it all myself. However, those days are well and truly gone. If I told Julie that I’d made a chicken last a whole week, finishing with chicken and vegetable soup for the last two days, she’d think I was crazy. But then she has more income as a hairdressing apprentice than I did as a graduate student doing my masters. Any spare tended to go on bike stuff or things like computers or mobile phone top ups. How different that is since Si gave me the Blackberry and paid its contract—not that I abuse his generosity and only use it for necessary things.
Life is so different now—I can’t believe the changes from when I first came to Portsmouth as a feminine youth and now live here as a married woman, a titled married woman, with six children and a baby.
I was lost in my reverie when Jenny came into the kitchen and aimed a mock kick at me. I jumped backwards and knocked the china gravy boat off the worktop and broke it.
“I’m sorry—I was just so full of what you taught me today.”
“Please, let’s get one rule straight—you don’t use it in inappropriate places unless it’s for your defence from physical harm.”
“Okay, I won’t do it again.”
“I know you won’t, because if you do, I’ll either fight back and you could get hurt, or I’ll fire you on the spot—possibly both, depending upon how angry I feel.”
“Oh, it was that stupid?”
“Yes, it was—I’ve broken Tom’s parent’s gravy boat—I’ve got a mess all over the floor and I’m trying to finish this meal.”
“Sorry, I’ll clean up the mess.”
“Make sure you get all the bits, because they can cut the dog’s feet, or anyone else who happens to walk barefoot in here.”
It reminded me of a boy I knew who always carried a sheath knife with him when we went bird and nature watching. This one day, we felt a little threatened by a gang of kids—all younger than us—he pulled out this knife and began waving it about. Today, that could get him arrested for threatening behaviour, and especially with the way the plod are towards knives—which is understandable given the number of stabbings there are—thank goodness guns aren’t freely available.
I left her clearing up the mess while I checked the stuffing—I’d made my own sage and onion with some stale bread—yes we do have some occasionally—some chopped onion, dried sage and salt and pepper. I also added some chopped dried garlic—it tastes so much more interesting than shop bought stuff.
The dinner was cooked as Tom and Simon came in together—so I left it to them to decide who would carve the meat and who would open the wine. I felt after the past few days I’d deserved a glass of wine. Simon handed the carving knife to Tom and went off armed with the corkscrew in pursuit of a suitable wine for chicken.
I passed Tom the plates and he loaded meat on each one. I added veg and placed them on the table. The gravy jug was that—a jug. Tom asked where the gravy boat was and I explained it had been smashed that afternoon.
Jenny blushed and admitted it was her fault. He looked at her and noticed her black eye. He enquired if it had been acquired at the same time. She told him the truth and he was disgusted with her ex-boyfriend. He also admitted he couldn’t stand the gravy boat and only kept it in the hope that frequent use might end its long life—seems he'd got his wish. I, however, determined to get another, preferably stainless steel tomorrow. I like gravy boats and feel it’s how gravy should be served, not from a Pyrex jug.
I watched her as she and Tom chatted over the dinner table and thought if I’d had access to the blue light, I could have sorted her eye in minutes—oh well, we live and learn.
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