The Night Following
fixed the hat in place with Evelyn’s “something old,”the pearl pin that had belonged to her own mother, and wiped a tear from her eye. Together they arranged Evelyn’s curls around the soft brim and primped the little bunch of white feathers that Mam had sewn onto one side under a white velvet bow.
    Evelyn eased her toes into her new, dark green mock-croc shoes, and picked up her white gloves from the bed. Mam tutted and shook her head, and then smiled sadly.
    “I know what you’re thinking, Mam,”Evelyn said. “But don’t fret, it don’t matter. It would have been a waste of money.”
    Mam sighed and sat down for a moment on the bed. “Aye, but it were lovely, that little green bag.”
    She was referring to the beautiful mock-croc clutch bag they had seen in Lewis’s that matched the shoes. It was small, elegant, and as Evelyn said, shockingly expensive.
    “If your Da was still here there’d be more money,”her Mam sighed, “for a proper do. There’d be a bit spare, for the likes of that bag. If he was here, we’d be splashing out a bit,”she added, forgetting perhaps that the circumstances of Evelyn and Stan’s wedding would have provoked an altogether different reaction in Evelyn’s father.
    “Now Mam,”Evelyn said sensibly, “you can’t say that. Look at all them’s that been laid off in’t last six months, there’s nothing you can take for granted these days. And anyway, we agreed. It was a beautiful handbag but there’s better ways to spend money, especially when I’ll not be working for a while and there’s more expense to come.”
    Mam murmured agreement.
    “And a little clutch bag’d be all very well for the Big Day, but what about afterward?”Evelyn said, smoothing down her skirt. “It don’t hold hardly anything. Besides, it leaves you just the one free hand.”
    “Aye, that’s true enough.”Mam chuckled. “Never thought I’d say it but you’re more practical-minded than me, Evelyn Alice Leigh.”
    “Oh, a little clutch’d be all very well for Lady Muck. But Stan’s not exactly the gentleman, opening doors for me wherever I go, is he?”Evelyn went on. “I need both my hands, I do.”
    “Aye, and your wits about you,”Mam said absently. “With a baby on t’way and a husband to look after.”
    “Exactly!”Evelyn said, sighing happily. “Stan’s Mam’s not going to be much help to us, neither. She’s going to let us fend for ourselves, she says, it’s better that way. So there’ll be Stan’s tea to get, never mind seeing to the baby, and I’ll have to rise to more than toast and dripping, won’t I, even if he does get his canteen dinner. I can’t be lugging shopping and a baby on and off the tram with a clutch bag, can I?”
    She laughed. “Anyway, all that’s as may be.”She fished in the breast pocket of her jacket and drew out a tiny pair of nail scissors. “Here, Mam, take these for me. I’ll need them later. Hang on to them till I ask for them, all right? And don’t look like that!”
    Mam sighed and shook her head. “I won’t pretend to know what you’re up to, Evelyn Leigh. But if you say so, love,”she said.
    “Thanks, Mam. Now I’m all ready, aren’t I? I’m wearing my locket and I’ve got my posy to hold. I’m marrying Stanley Ashworth today and there’s nothing more I need. I never wanted a big shindig, anyway. So let’s be going.”
     
27 Cardigan Avenue

Dear Ruth

Carole takes the view I should keep these letters going. She says undoubtedly not getting any reply is hard, but coming to terms with that can be part of the process.

Anyway, easier to fit in time for a letter as I’m off my feet, in general.

Also have plenty of time for reading.

Your pages made me think of our wedding. You never wanted a big shindig either, or so you said. It seemed quite big enough to me when it came to it, though. Looked out our Order of Service, here it is.

All right, I didn’t look it out, it just came to hand, unearthed from bowels

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