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‘And Barrow,’ said Sadie, with equal difficulty. ‘Some-times you can even see the Cumbrian mountains. That’s a sign of rain, or so experts say, whoever they may be.’

‘Oh. I hadn’t heard that.’

‘Don’t think it’ll rain today, though.’

‘More likely start snowing.’

He pulled her gently by the hand. ‘Come on. Let’s head back to Central Pier and nip down Queen Street to the bus station.’

Tommy had been trying hard all morning to find the suitable moment to tackle Sadie about when she would be going back down to London. As the Central Pier grew before them it seemed that the moment had arrived. ‘I guess you’ll be wanting to get back to the show stuff soon?’

Sadie had hoped that the subject wouldn’t arise, but she knew it had been naive of her to think that it could have been avoided.

‘Well, er, Stella reckons, er, Stella says I’m to be back up next Wednesday.’ She paused for some reaction. None was forthcoming as yet. Tentatively she continued. ‘We’ve to start rehearsals fairly soon, you see, on a new revue – a touring revue, it is.’

‘What’s revue?’ he asked, darkly.

‘It’s like variety,’ she explained, ‘but has sketches and numbers, songs—’

‘Okay, okay, I get the picture,’ he snapped. ‘I’m not as bloody daft as you all like to think, you know.’

‘I know you’re not. I mean . . . Oh, I don’t know what I mean,’ she said. ‘I’m not the least bit eager to get going at the act with Stella again. But no doubt I’ll still be saying that when I’m fifty.’

Tommy dug his hands deep into his coat pockets and hunched his back a little to show her how miserable he was feeling. ‘Yer didn’t mention about Wednesday. I thought we had ages left together.’

Sadie said, ‘Sorry, I thought I had.’ Both of them knew very well that she hadn’t thought at all but it was her way of expressing to him how much she had been dreading having to break the bad news. ‘Anyway, I’ve ’til Wednesday lunchtime and it’s only Sunday, love.’

‘I’ll be working Wednesday,’ he said, sourly.

‘I know that, but you can see me off at Green Ayre Station at one o’clock. You can come straight from work during your lunch break. I’ll bring some food and we can have a picnic on the platform. You’d like that, wouldn’t you?’

Looking ahead, Tommy asked, ‘How long is the new revue lasting?’

‘Only eight weeks,’ she replied, knowing herself just how long eight weeks sounded.

‘Two whole flamin’ months,’ he groaned. He nodded in the approximate direction of the pier. ‘What’s wrong with here?’


‘Here – Morecambe. They have shows here, don’t they? You could work here.’

‘It’s not as easy as that Tommy. Neil and Claxton will be putting their own show on and they’ll use their own dancers.’

‘You could tell ’em you’d work cheaper if you could appear at Central Pier.’

‘Tommy, you know that’s not possible. And, anyway, Stella and me are booked for Shanklin for the summer . . .’ The sentence filtered out. She hadn’t intended letting that piece of devastating information slip out.

He stopped half-way through a stride and pulled her to a halt. ‘Shanklin?’ he cried, as if someone had said he owed them a thousand pounds. Sadie glumly nodded her head, and wished she’d kept her big mouth closed. ‘You mean, Shanklin in the Isle of Wight?’ To Tommy that could have been Australia. ‘Bloody hellfire!’

They started walking again but much slower. ‘I won’t see you all summer, then?’ He shook his head with despair. ‘It’ll be six months or more before I see you.’

‘I’ll be back first week in October,’ she promised, hoping the freezing tide would sweep over her and take her away.

‘Hellfire Sade!’

‘Or maybe I’ll even be able to get back in the last week of September. It depends how it’s going. They’ve got an option on the last week.’

Tommy had stepped up his pace and she was struggling to keep up with him. ‘It’s a good date for us, Tommy,’ she said. ‘Stella’s thrilled we’re going there.’

‘Sod Stella.’

‘Oh, Tommy,’ she cried, pulling up in her tracks. He walked on a few more paces before turning round to look at her.

‘Well, she’ll be seeing you and I won’t, will I?’

‘I know, but we have to look on the bright side. October isn’t too far away now,’ she lied.

‘Sadie, it’s seven months.’

‘Yes, but it’s only a short season from the first week in June when we open, and we only rehearse one week before and not the usual two.’

‘It doesn’t matter how you juggle it,’ he said wearily. ‘Seven months is seven months. I can’t take time off to visit you, and even when I take my holidays I can’t afford to go all the way to the Isle of flamin’ Wight.’

They drifted down Queen Street. ‘I’ll have to go there, Tommy, it’s a good run and other dates Stella’s got in the book amount to seven months, like you said.’ She was being firm with Tommy now. ‘I can help you with the fare if you’ll say you will come down.’

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