A Brief Courtship Of Sorts


As a young man, sometime before the war, I lived in a world “Of certain certainties” as some poet said, or may have said. I’ve never been of the bookish persuasion but you get my drift: we dressed for dinner, played cricket, gentlemen versus players, every August on the green, and obeyed conventions in public as if conformity were as natural as breathing. My private thoughts were of a different colour, but when has that not been true. After all, as another poet possibly remarked, “Manners the wild savage doth contain” and aint that the truth by God.

Anyway,  in those times I, unmarried and a recent graduate from Cambridge visited my aunt in Boshom and found myself co-opted onto the cricket team, some young notable having fallen ill, and played, I am forced to admit, with some ability. A  charming girl approached me at the tea after the match and remarked on my bowling in a manner which invited further conversation.

Her name was Araminta I discovered, and she was the daughter of a noted local family. Her manner was bright, engaging and possibly beguiling and I wondered how I could extend our acquaintanceship to later in the evening when I knew a small number of the local “worthies,” among others, would be gathering at my aunts house for “Drinks” which in those days was a way of inviting people to your home without the bother of preparing a meal.

My aunt, who had little about her of note, apart from having attended the funeral of Queen Victoria, an incident which frequently made its way into her conversation, did what many in declining circumstances do, which was stick rigidly to convention, albeit on a reduced scale, so that offering “Drinks” instead of a meal was a way of clinging to the last of her contacts in gentrified circles without, in her case, the expense of providing full-blown hospitality.

Emboldened by Araminta’s  friendliness and forward manner, I asked her if she was “Coming up later” for drinks at my aunt’s, whose name I told her, was Mrs Derringer. Her  face stiffened very subtlely, in the way only those who have been repeatedly  slighted on social grounds would notice, and she said “Sadly I have other plans” before drifting off to talk to another young man I did not know but who had played in the same team as I.

She was a dazzling beauty framed in social caution who, I later discovered, went on to marry a senior civil servant some years older than herself  who “worked tirelessly,” which just means worked, at the Home Office during the war. Later, I was employed by an engineering business in an undistinguished capacity, thus emphasising, much to my aunt’s dismay, how far we had drifted from the county set. I married a women who grew to love me in her own way but who disliked any “fuss” unless, of course, she , herself was making it. I never met Araminta again, but my conversation with her was the closest I got to what many people describe as a romance so the snub I received from her remains fresh to this day. The harshest truths, it seems, are often implied rather than stated.

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About Peter Wells aka Countingducks

Trying to remember what my future is
This entry was posted in character, community, creative writing, Fiction, humour, Peter Wells, Relationships, Romance, writing and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

22 Responses to A Brief Courtship Of Sorts

  1. Elissaveta says:

    Your prose always transports me to a different dimension… Sorry, it’s hard to explain otherwise.
    Do you wish you could see her again or is it one of those faraway memories that only resurface at times?

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  2. It’s actually a piece of total fiction inspired by a piece of film I saw about life between the wars. I wasn’t alive then, and never knew anyone who got near Queen Victoria’s funeral, but I would have “Gone on about it ” myself if I’d been there. Thank you for your very nice comment 🙂

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  3. Al says:

    The only “certain certainty” I have these days is that ever so often, you will regale me with one of your delicious chronicles. Great stuff, as always, ducks.

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  4. Glenda Brown says:

    Lovely to finally something of yours, Peter; and most enjoyable it was too. Thanks very much. For wiling away the end of an ordinary morning with something a tad special.

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  5. Don’t we all have those moments of, “if only?” 🙂

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  6. The Derringers and their lot were quite the legends in their own mind. Reminds me the wonderful British comedy, Keeping Up Appearances… Well done as always, Mr. Wells!

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  7. catterel says:

    Now – you really have to follow this one up with a sequel or prequel. Why was Araminta agin your Aunt Derringer? Something nasty in the orangerie?

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    • Ah, you made me laugh here. The aunt in question would be one of those from “Landed” stock but now without the means to join in the social activities enjoyed by her father and grandfather.Those who were still firmly ensconced in privilege used to be very careful about encouraging others who they felt might sponge on their wealth citing some familial or other connection. Hence the rather cold withdrawal of the otherwise lovely, I’m sure, Araminta.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. The Voice says:

    Your style of expression has kind of a hypnotic affect on me. You could recite the recipe for chicken soup and I think I would sit mesmerized. Thank you for stopping by my site and I’m glad I found yours. I look forward to reading much more from you.

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  9. Amidst all the irony beauty you continue to weave into your prose like pieces, I cling to the idea that you can avoid having someone for dinner by simply offering drinks. There’s hope for someone like me yet!!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Peter,
    As always, your words thrill me, dear! xx

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  11. ksbeth says:

    one’s world can turn on a dime. well done, peter.

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  12. The language and tone of this piece capture the social graces of the period perfectly, and one can imagine the Aunt’s disquiet as her ‘world’ slowly slips from her. Your ending too works perfectly, adding a different dimension to the story: a case of what might have been, and a wish for something that was never more than a dream. Most enjoyable, Peter.

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  13. A curse on Araminta. She most possibly went to a single-sex public school and did well at Latin. Salvation came in the snub of a toff.

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  14. Scarlet says:

    …and when challenged these perceived slights are so easily denied. Makes you want to thump someone doesn’t it?
    Sx

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  15. I like the description of ‘drinks’. I can do that, where I’m sure I couldn’t pull off a full-blown dinner. I host my family at Thanksgiving and it always ends up half the women helping me! Sigh.

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  16. Another wonderful piece Peter! You take me to other worlds into a great space of escapism! 😄

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  17. Leni Qinan says:

    “The harshest truths, it seems, are often implied rather than stated”.
    How true.

    Like

  18. Pingback: A Brief Courtship Of Sorts | An Open Secret

  19. gotham girl says:

    Simply awesome!

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  20. Wildfire8470 says:

    I love this: “The harshest truths, it seems, are often implied rather than stated.” More pointedly true and painfully accurate then any words ever could be.

    Like

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