Bernard Monkfish, not blessed in name or nature, was the product of a father whose imagination was exercised with little awareness of its effect on others, hence his son had become a nervous and wary adult, which is the point at which we join him in his life.
Here he is, sitting in a café with a white coffee in front of him, peering at the view outside the window. Hope and opportunity pass by us all the time, and offer us the chance to change our lives. Bernard was one of those people who could sit on a mountainside built on good fortune, and see nothing there. He was a gap in the love chain, silence in the world of music and the block in a writer’s imagination.
Only in one area did he display a pleasing quirkiness and sense of community eccentricity: that was in the Lower Saddleworth Jousting and Knightly Courtesies club, of which he was club secretary and a long serving member. Following a Saturday morning cutting some shapes on the village green, he was now in a café with his morning coffee, pleasingly unaware that being a man in a full suite of armour, and with the sun glinting off his visor, behind which his glasses were in danger of steaming up, might present him as slightly unusual figure to the locals.
The problem he had, which he had not yet communicated, was that the visor had become jammed during that morning’s high-jinks, and he did not have the nerve to ask the café owner for a straw small enough to slip through the tiny apertures insisted on by the health and safety committee so that the knight, thus encased ,could continue to breath.
Just when all seemed lost, and the coffee was about to cool below those temperatures generally recognised as offering the most pleasure to the informed sipper, a glamorous blond sat down in front of him and said, “My knight in shining armour. How are you darling?” Bernard may have returned her smile, but we have no way of knowing that. Still, unusually forward for a man with his social caution, he said, “My Visor’s stuck. “
“What’s that my darling, my little chickadee, my bold warrior” she said and Bernard repeated the information. Without further commentary she removed a nail file from her well-equipped handbag, fiddled around with the visor for a few seconds until, sure enough, it opened to reveal the face of Bernard, complete with pale moustache and steamed-up glasses. “You’ve got lovely eyes” she said and started laughing, while Bernard quickly attacked the coffee now within a half-degree of being ruined.
“Are you married?” she asked and Bernard shook his head. “Are you living with anyone; in a serious relationship; or the victim of any weird impulses? Bernard kept shaking his head. The women, later revealed to be called Beatrice smiled, and said. “A Knight in shining armour and still available: lucky me. You can buy me lunch”
Thus it was that Bernard, the unluckiest of men, got pinned against the wall by good fortune and offered a fresh start in life. She, it transpired, was his missing link, and they were married within three months. To see the pair of them setting off to local Jousting events suitably attired, and with a small can of emergency oil in her maiden’s handbag, was to see how happiness can bloom in the most unlikely circumstance, and those who see life without hope can still be saved by chance.