The penultimate bite-sized extract before starting the serious business of finding an agent for Defining Moments after Christmas.
“Few are those who see with their own eyes and feel with their own hearts.”
Gloucestershire – 1966
Another sham of a marriage, Elizabeth and Arthur were like chalk and cheese, an inappropriate pairing in the eyes of many, which was exacerbated by the gaping twenty-five-year age gap between them.
He had been introduced to Elizabeth by mutual friends. Her beauty and the way she flaunted it, her exaggerated catwalk walk and seductive pout, was guaranteed to leave a trail of panting red-blooded males in her wake. So nobody was more surprised than Arthur when she accepted his proposal after giving him her struggling-single-mother-monologue.
If at any stage he thought that a much younger wife would look after him, he was wrong, as Elizabeth employed a live-in carer before they left the registry office. Elizabeth had no scruples when it came to getting what she wanted and she reeled in Arthur for exactly the same reason she had trapped Fergus, his bank balance; another loveless marriage to satisfy her financial craving.
Arthur looked considerably older than fifty-one. Years of ill health had seen to that. Initially, he travelled back and forth to London with Elizabeth but, unlike his young wife, he enjoyed spending time at Silkwoods. Inevitably the time came when he found the commute from too much and he chose to stay at Silkwoods on a full-time basis, which was very convenient for Elizabeth, who took the opportunity to move her lover, Jeremy, into Arthur’s sumptuous Belgravia abode.
Arthur threw himself renovating Silkwoods, starting with installing new bathrooms and a new kitchen, with gadgets, much to Nellie’s delight. ‘I wonder what Mrs Beeton would have had to say about the Kenwood Chef?’
Once the house was in better shape, he turned his attention to the farm. Elizabeth had sold the polo ponies and the sheep after Fergus left, so Arthur applied his entrepreneurial skills to dairy farming. He increased the size of the Silkwoods herd and built a state of the art milking parlour, as well as modernising all the farm buildings, taking pride in being the only Yankee dairy farmer in Gloucestershire.
Lisa made a point of spending time with him, initially because her innate curiosity got the better of her, she wanted to know as much about her disabled stepfather as possible. He was a very intelligent, well-read man with an Oxford degree in economics, but his one true passion was reading which he did voraciously, encouraging Lisa to do the same and she needed little encouragement. To her delight, he moved his library of books from Belgravia to Silkwoods and the bond between them began to flourish.
‘Now Lisa, we can both be bookworms together!’ There were few subjects that Arthur could not authoritatively hold a conversation on and over the years Lisa would absorb his views with an open mind; they made more sense to her than most.