It is 1970 and Trevor is engaged to Bethany (never abbreviated). He’s been saving in order to buy Bethany a very special, secret wedding present – this is over-and-above the other expenses he’s had for his wedding. He spent an age wondering what to get, but when he looks in the window of the shop on Paragon Square, his problem is solved; the shop agrees to put it in store until needed.
Bethany and her mother, Alarice (never abbreviated), are having a wonderful time making preparations before the wedding, Bethany’s pregnancy temporarily ignored. Trev never has the courage to ask Bethany where the name Alarice comes from but reckons that replacing the ‘l’ with a ‘v’ sums her up.
Alarice is set on a white, church wedding with all the frills. As she and her husband, Ronald (never abbreviated), are paying for it, as well as the deposit for the terraced house in which the newly weds will live, Trev has little room for manoeuvre, getting short shrift from Bethany when he suggests they should stand on their own two feet.
Trev doesn’t understand why it’s a white wedding – We’ve been shagging for six years since she was fifteen, white’s for virgins, isn’t it? He knows he shouldn’t think such things; Bethany always tells him to talk properly and not be coarse. As for Alarice, she makes it only too clear he isn’t good enough for Bethany. Deep down, Trev is worried that Bethany will morph into her mother with more airs and graces than Barbara Cartland, who Alarice worships as the greatest novelist of all time.
As mother and daughter continue with wedding arrangements Trev redecorates number 37 Shakespeare Street, or Mia Casa, as Bethany christens it, the words crudely hot-pokered on wood by Ronald and fixed next to the front door. Trev finishes the job with a week to spare before the wedding giving him the chance for his present to be delivered to number 37, it having been agreed that Bethany will not enter Mia Casa until Trev carries her over the threshold after their honeymoon at Butlins, Skegness.
The wedding ceremony and reception pass with the minimum of engagement from Trev who feels as if he’s an extra, though he does manage to shout, I do, leaving Bethany looking alarmed. He’s embarrassed by his speech; Alarice is disdainful and Bethany deflated.
A week later the taxi pulls up outside Mia Casa. Trev sets their suitcases down, unlocks the front door and carries Bethany inside. Close your eyes, he says. I’ve bought you a special wedding present; it’s in the front room. Ooh Trev, Bethany coos. He pushes open the door and sets Bethany down. Open your eyes.
The three seater white PVC sofa still has its sales slogan attached – ‘Wipeable Surface’.
God you’re coarse! Bethany shouts.
I thought you’d like doing it in front of the telly.
You’re disgusting. Wait till mum hears about this.
The front door slams. One suitcase remains.
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© Phil Cosker 2021
Phil Cosker has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs & Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work. All rights reserved; no part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted by any mean, electronic, mechanical, photocopying or otherwise without the prior permission of the author.