Anne was leaving her furniture in her old flat for Patsy so there wasn’t a great deal to move. Arrangements were made for the young quantity surveyors, helped by Malcolm Pitkin, to move her things down at the weekend. Meanwhile, Anne, Lawrence and Maggie went shopping for new furniture.
‘I thought we’d go to Rackhams – all those years in the office entitle me to a discount – but it does seem awfully extravagant. And I fancy something a bit more up to date and – well – young. How about we all go to that place where Lawrence bought my lovely new kitchen? What’s it called? IKEA? Yes, that’s what we’ll do.’ To Anne’s astonishment the place looked more like a warehouse than a department store, but she could hardly be restrained once they were inside.
‘This is fun’ purred Anne. She had given in over the provision of a wheelchair for such a busy day, but was so excited she could hardly be restrained. She kept getting up to point out a chair or a rug. She was getting rather tired by the time she and Maggie were persuaded to leave in a cab, leaving Lawrence to settle up and arrange delivery of their purchases.
‘Maggie, you can’t believe how much I hate living in that hotel. It’s all very posh, but it’s far too hot and I’m not used to having staff hovering around all the time and listening to my conversations, lovely people though they are.’
‘Never mind, you’ll soon be in your own place again, and it will be much easier for you not to have to go up and down those awful stairs.’
‘It’s going to be lovely, dear. But I’m going to miss Lawrence so much when he goes home next week. We get on so well, nobody would think we hadn’t seen each other for thirty years until a month ago.’ All those years of family that I’ve missed, and the children – they’re strangers. They’ve never seen me and I’ve never seen them and now they’re nearly grown up.
‘Why don’t you plan a trip to Boston for when you’ve finished all your physio? You’ve never even seen the children and they’re just about your only family now. Think how much you’d enjoy seeing them in their own country.’
‘You won’t believe this, Maggie, but I’ve never been in an aeroplane. Isn’t it rather frightening?’
‘Not at all. You’ll love it, you with your interest in everyone and everything. You’ll be in your element.’
‘Mmmm. We’ll see. I’ll think about it.’
‘Now, Patsy dear,’ said Anne, ‘what shall we do with my furniture and things? I know it’s cluttered and old-fashioned, but my new flat wouldn’t look right with the old stuff. I had thought I would miss all my bits and pieces, but I don’t, not a bit. The new furniture is so clean-looking and comfortable. I don’t know why I kept so much for so long – just dust traps.’
Patsy O’Riordan, the nurse from the clinic, was moving into the old flat at the top of number 22. ‘Well Miss B….’
‘I’ve told you before. It’s Anne from now on.’
‘OK Anne. Can we play it by ear for a bit? I don’t have any furniture – I’ve never had a flat of my own – and I don’t have a clue what I’m going to need, even if I could afford to buy new stuff. I am so grateful that you are letting me live here so cheaply, with no deposit.’ Patsy grinned at Anne. ‘But I think you should take some of your lovely crochet work, though. I’m sure you can find a place for it.
‘But before we decide anything, there’s something I have to tell you, and you may not want me to stay after that.’
‘Whatever is it?’ Anne put her head on one side enquiringly. An inkling of what was to come had occurred to her.
‘Well…. erm … I don’t know how to put this without shocking you.’
‘I’m not so easily shocked as all that, dear. Tell it straight.’
Patsy gulped, clenched her fists and muttered ‘I’m pregnant.’ so softly that Anne had to ask her to repeat it.
‘I’m going to have a baby. There, now you know. You won’t want me here now.’
Oh dear, the silly girl. When will they ever learn? Still, all the more need for my support. ‘Of course I will, dear. It’ll be lovely to have some young life in the terrace. And what about the father? Are you getting married?’
‘Erm, that’s the point, Anne. I won’t. It was a one off thing, and I’m not likely ever to see him again, as he’s gone back to Poland. And before you ask, no. I won’t be having an abortion.’
Anne blinked at the blunt speaking. ‘Of course you won’t dear. You’re a Catholic, aren’t you? And in any case that’s not the way to go. You would never forgive yourself. You’ll manage just fine.’
Patsy heaved a huge sigh of relief. She had feared the worst; that she would find herself homeless once again. She brushed away a tear. ‘You are so good to me Anne. I might have known you wouldn’t let me down. How could I ever have doubted you?’
‘Now, that’s enough of that.’ said Anne, turning away to hide her own glistening eyes. ‘We’ve your move to organise. Let’s ask Maggie if the quantity surveyors will give us a hand, and if there’s anything you need, you must say. We can always send any surplus to the Church jumble sale and it will be such fun finding what you’ll need for the baby.’ Until recently I had had no idea shopping could be such a pleasure when you didn’t have to worry about where the money was coming from.
‘We’ll see, Anne’ said Patsy. ‘Let’s get us both settled in first, and then we shall be busy with the ‘save the buildings’ campaign.’
‘Yes, dear. Now that Lawrence has gone back home, it will be up to us to keep the pot boiling.’