Authors: Elizabeth Oldfield
|Accent Press (2012)|
Divorced, fifty-plus and a reporter on a small-town newspaper, Carol has just one grumble – the way friends and family will try to fix her up with a Mr Wonderful. No thanks! She’s perfectly content on her own. Then life shifts into the kick-ass mode. Steve, a tyrannical new editor, arrives: her elderly father morphs into a babe magnet: her daughter and granddaughter land on her doorstep, and black hairs sprout from Carol’s chin.
Jenny, Carol’s meek plump housewife friend, is eager to find herself a job, but her husband disapproves. Tina, a glamorous recently-widowed gold-digger, has one major problem – she hates getting older.
When the three women workout together with Max, an erotic personal trainer, all their lives are changed.
Published by Accent Press Ltd – 2007
ISBN 190517098X / 9781905170982
Copyright © Elizabeth Oldfield 2007
The right of Elizabeth Oldfield to be identified as the
author of this work has been asserted by her in
accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.
The story contained within this book is a work of fiction.
Names and characters are the product of the author’s
imagination and any resemblance to actual persons,
living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be
reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted
in any form or by any means, electronic, electrostatic, magnetic tape, mechanical, photocopying, recording
or otherwise, without the written permission of the
publishers: Accent Press Ltd, The Old School, Upper High St, Bedlinog, Mid Glamorgan, CF46 6SA
Printed and bound in the UK
Cover Design by Joëlle Brindley
To John –
for all his love and suppor
‘Fitter, thinner, richer,’ Bruce
proclaimed, topping up glasses in readiness for Big Ben booming out its televised chimes.
‘Ditto,’ a couple of the guests agreed.
‘With knobs on,’ added a third.
‘I will remember to put out the wheelie bin every Friday morning.’
‘My viewing of The Simpsons will be restricted to twice a week.’
I smiled. Was watching The Simpsons such a sin? I’ve stopped making resolutions. Year after year I had vowed to quit smoking and year after year I had failed, until finally I recognised the futility. And now I was departing one year content with my personal life and at peace, and entering the next in the same way. It had not always been so. Okay, there were a few minor gripes – like wishing I looked thirty-five, rather than fifty-five, could afford a home-help and was a millionairess to boot – but I had no nail-biting anxieties, no serious complaints.
‘Whenever Joan farts in bed, I shall banish her to the spare room. Which means she’ll spend most of her time there,’ guffawed a man who had been tossing down brandies all evening, and received a murderous look from his wife.
As on previous occasions – some in the distant past, but mainly in more recent times – I was celebrating New Year’s Eve at the home of my best friend, Jenny, and her husband, Bruce, in the company of mutual friends and several of their neighbours. Earlier twelve of us had sat down to a delicious four-course dinner with all the trimmings. Jenny is an heroic cook.
Jenny has also given up on new leaves because, time and again, she had resolved to lose weight and it hadn’t happened. Like me with the cigs, come mid-January she invariably succumbs to the delights of Cadbury’s flakes, chocolate digestives and their ilk. Though she isn’t
fat, just ‘cuddly’, but it continually bothers her.
‘Next year will see me – us – becoming richer,’ Jenny declared brightly. ‘Once I’m a working girl.’
Bruce laughed. ‘Be realistic, my love. Whatever you might manage to earn will make zero difference to our lifestyle.’
Patronising twit, I thought. Although we go back decades, Bruce and I have never clicked. I’ve tried to like him, but he’s not my sort – too much the in-charge husband and boring with it. Equally, I’m not his sort – overly independent, I guess.
‘You’ll change your tune once she’s bringing in the cash,’ I told him, but my words were lost beneath the first
from the great clock tower
Jenny hasn’t worked – as in gone out to work and been paid – for twenty-eight years, since she became pregnant with William, her eldest, but after spending the autumn brushing up on her typing, attending computer workshops and practising on her daughter’s p.c., as from 1
January – in eleven more
– she will be actively job-hunting. I’m rooting for her, but Bruce is anti. He makes fun of her wanting to be, in his words, ‘a dogsbody in an office’.
‘With luck, I’ll be richer, too,’ I said to Jenny, who was stood beside me. ‘Once Eric departs and I take over, which could be sooner rather than later.’
I am chief reporter at
The Dursleigh Siren,
the local weekly newspaper, while Eric is the editor. A lazy, uninspired, shambolic editor.
‘Doesn’t he have a couple more years to go until retirement?’ she asked, as the
‘In theory, but yesterday Mr Pinkney-Jones, the proprietor, came in and as he left I overheard him say something to Eric about ‘time for a change at the top’.’ I grinned. ‘So –’
Glasses were raised. ‘Happy New Year!’ The shouts rang out. ‘And many of them!’
Fireworks were exploding on the television screen when a tweed-jacketed arm slithered around my waist and I was turned to face a russet-haired man with jug ears and a toothy smile. My heart sank. It was Russell. I had been placed next to him at dinner.
The placement was strategic. As had been all previous placements beside lone males. Jenny harbours the eternal hope that I will hit it off with lone male, fall – whoosh! – head over heels in love, marry and live happily ever after. But Russell, a financial consultant and acquaintance of Bruce, had spent the entire meal detailing the intricacies of share options. Utter fascination for him; made me itch to thrust my celery sticks up his excitedly quivering nostrils before slumping into a deep, deep sleep. Ever since we’d risen from the table I had been socialising with other guests, all established two-by-twos, in a desperate attempt to avoid him, but at regular intervals he had appeared. And here he was again.
‘Happy New Year, Carol,’ he yodelled, and kissed me.
The kiss was pink-rubber-lipped and sloppy, like being snogged by a turbot.
‘We must get together sometime,’ he declared.
My smile fell into the rictus category. I had no serious complaints with my
Later, when my middle-aged suitor and the other guests had departed, and I was ferrying dirty glasses through to the kitchen, I got Jenny on her own.
‘There’s a New Year’s resolution I would like you to make,’ I told her. ‘I will not try to fix Carol up with any more unattached males.’
‘You didn’t care for Russell?’