The Shriving of Miss Esme Stamp…

Episode 91… A Gathered Reunion…

From a distance things seemed ok to Charles, but his mind was concerned for his dear friend ‘Herby’ His rather singular lifestyle worried Charles somewhat and he noticed at times his friend would become quite middling in his thoughts, and although he was surrounded by much activity at The Peoples Palace, nevertheless, he seemed unhappy within himself.

‘Ever considered marriage?’ Charles ventured on one occasion, a partner and friend would be a good thing, as we are all getting older it may be a good choice.’

‘Look what happened before Charley. I’m just not cut out for that sort of business.’ He looked rather sheepish with his answer.

‘Come on, it doesn’t have to be like that Herby. Mrs Plum, well that was not for you, a complete misunderstanding that you were not responsible for. Look, she just wanted a replacement husband. It was not true love, and it was not for you, you are, after all, my dearest friend, and believe me, I speak the truth.’

Herbert’s faith in Charles was unshakeable, his friend made sense to him.

With a reluctant smile he said: ‘Yes you are right, and yes you are right! he added with a gathered enthusiasm.

‘What we all need Herby, is a slap up meal at The Kings Head. We could all do with that! I’ll invite the girls and Gabby. Now you choose an evening when you’re free and I will book a table.’

It was the following Tuesday evening which suited everyone. A table for five had been acquired with drinks laid out and set up for a fine carvery.

A toast was first made to Herby in recognition of his fine management of The Peoples Palace to which he sat rather shyly, but found courage to thank all those present for their undying friendship and loyalty. Then it was time for the finest roast Beef with crackling, roast potatoes and a huge choice of steamed buttered vegetables, washed down at first with honeyed Mead and then some of the best French wine.

Francoise, or Linda, as she was known to the gathered group, was of French and English parentage and she was the proud proprietor of The Kings Head. She knew Charles well for he was a regular in her establishment and she knew his friends too. Her real secret was that she could offer the very best French wine and could cook the best roast beef in London.

During the meal she sat with them, enjoying their company, and much of the chit-chat and offering her input that all enjoyed. Charles had photographed her many times surrounded by her profession in order to promote the well being of The Kings Head. In her early thirties with soft light olive skin and a chatty rounded face, she was the perfect host.

It was clear as the evening progressed that she was taking a deal of interest in the beloved Herby’ finding his likeable gentle manner to her taste. She smiled at his way of telling little stories across the dinner table of his exploits in the world of show business. ‘Being an Agent ain’t all roses.’ he added. There was clearly a coming together for the two of them.


About Patrick

a photographer, writer and blogger, a studio and press photographer since the mid 1960's, first published writings in 1974
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