Rebecca – July 1979
Rebecca had discovered that she was pregnant again in December 1978. She had suspected she may be but giving birth and breast-feeding Ty had upset her hormones so she wasn’t sure until she visited her GP and had a pregnancy test. Dylan had disappeared again; she had not seen him since mid October. Fearful of her mother’s reaction she kept the news almost entirely to herself. Penny wasn’t well and Caitlin was so far away that Suzanne became her main confidante, Suzanne and the Palmerstone girls, particularly Carole who was a real friend by now.
Rebecca loved being a mother to baby Tyrone but another one! How on earth was she going to manage two babies? There wasn’t enough space in the flat now. The baby paraphernalia already spilled out of the tiny nursery, an apology for a second bedroom. She could manage whilst Ty was confined to a Moses basket or to his cot but soon he’d be crawling around. She would need more space and she would have to hire a Nanny to look after the babies while she was at work.
Rebecca was a problem solver by nature and she called on her imagination to think of ways to solve her dilemma. A few weeks later the means for a potential solution magically landed in her lap. The shop adjoining Palmerstone became vacant. Rebecca had got to know the owners, who ran a grocery store from the premise, as she had often shopped there herself. The couple were coming up to retirement and had decided to sell.
Rebecca had not intended to purchase business premises; she preferred to rent and invest her capital in stock. However the possibility of solving the childcare problem at least for a couple of years made the purchase appealing to her. She had noticed that many of the Palmerstone clients were her own age and some had their own babies and young children in tow when they came shopping. Too often Palmerstone lost a sale, as mothers harassed by the demands of their offspring would leave the shop empty handed. What if, thought Rebecca, she configured the next-door shop so that the front part extended their sales space and the small back room was turned into a crèche? This facility would serve her babies plus those of mothers who were shopping in Palmerstone? Mums would be free to browse with their children looked after on the premises.
Her mind started to buzz with ideas. Palmerstone had already introduced ‘Champagne Friday’ all the customers having a glass of bubbly when they came in to shop. What if she used the upstairs of the adjoining shop as a Coffee Shop and Champagne Bar serving a limited menu so that customers could shop and lunch at their leisure with their children taken care of the while?
The idea wouldn’t go away so she decided to run it past Carole who was intimately involved in the running of the business, usually in charge at Kings Road. Carole thought that it could work and suggested that they may do some informal research with customers. Rebecca looked into sale prices of similar retail properties and approached her neighbours with an offer that was fair. She would get it cheaper than the full market rate to reflect the contingent cost of marketing the property. The couple discussed the offer overnight and agreed the next day.
An appointment was made to see her bank manager. Palmerstone was well in credit and had no current loans. She was confident that she would be able to agree mortgage terms with the bank and would have sufficient funds in hand to pay for the alterations, refurbishment and fittings.
The arrangements would at least look after the daytime needs of her burgeoning family for the time being. Rebecca was excited about the new developments for her business and cautiously optimistic that they would be commercially successful.
On her next visit to Suzanne she explained to her friend and Jack what she was planning. As she talked they all watched Tyrone’s desperate efforts to catch up with the elusive cats with smiles on their faces. Zorro and Ziggy would let him crawl close enough to almost touch either of them before leaping from his clutches. The three adults ate a sociable supper as Tyrone slept soundly in his carrycot exhausted by his efforts. Suzanne had persuaded Rebecca to stay over, as it was Saturday night. Rebecca relaxed gratefully and allowed herself a couple of glasses of wine. She always felt so contented here.
Work on the shop extension was well underway when Rebecca next visited Suzanne. The hospitality arrangement had gradually become one way as Suzanne had insisted that she liked to cook and Rebecca was too exhausted to argue. It was fun to see Tyrone interacting with Jack and the cats that he absolutely adored. He was attempting to walk now and could pull himself up by holding on to chairs and would wobble a few steps on his own with lots of encouragement from the adults. The girls relaxed with a glass of wine, Rebecca making room for Zorro to sit on what was left of her lap, he liked to rest his head on her baby bump and seemed to enjoy the sensation of the baby kicking inside. He purred enthusiastically at any rate.
Suzanne decided to tell Rebecca bluntly of her Paris posting without beating about the bush. Before Rebecca had time to interject Suzanne rushed ahead with the rest of her proposition:
‘I know that you like your own independence and the flat is convenient for the shop but think about it.’ She finished, ‘No hurry, it’s just a possibility which may suit you and the children and be good for Dad as well.’ Rebecca was astonished and gratified by her friend’s consideration and the generous offer she was making. Sure Suzanne would benefit from knowing that her father had company, but otherwise the arrangement was totally in her favour. Space for the babies, some moral support from Jack who was always very kind to her, she wouldn’t be far from work and Ty and the new baby would go with her and stay in the new Palmerstone crèche during the day. It could be the perfect solution to her needs.
‘Annie, you are too, too, good and kind, what would I do without you?’ Rebecca responded and burst into tears.
‘Don’t cry!’ Suzanne said, concerned by her friend’s emotional outburst. Zorro shot off her lap in alarm as he received a huge kick from the baby, disturbed by the emotions of its mother. ‘We’d all be happier if you had someone about the place at night and I know that you like it here.’
‘I think that it’s a lovely idea, thank you Annie’ sniffed Rebecca. “Does Jack know what you’re intending to do?’ she asked, pulling herself together, ‘and does he know what he’s letting himself in for?’ As if on cue Jack reappeared from his study. He patted Rebecca on the shoulder as he observed her emotion and joined the girls still sitting at the kitchen table.
‘I think I know what you to have been discussing’ he observed, smiling warmly at both in turn. ‘Becca, I’m really sorry to be losing Suzanne, although I know she’ll be visiting as often as she’s able. I’d like to add my invitation to Annie’s. You and the child and the new baby are very welcome to live with us here for as long as you’d like. For my part I like company and I like children; in small doses’ he qualified, ‘we have plenty of space and I think we’d get along fine don’t you?’
‘Oh yes I do’ said Rebecca with a watery smile, ‘I always love it here, I feel contented. I could cook meals in the evening like Annie does and Ty would have space to run around, when he’s able.’
‘Well that won’t be long’ remarked Jack, ‘he’s nearly managing already.’
So it was arranged that Suzanne would go to Paris and Rebecca would move into Suzanne’s quarters and stay with Jack in the Pimlico house.
‘I’m going to be the only one of us left in London.’ Rebecca remarked sadly, and then she brightened up. ‘Let’s have a reunion before you go Annie. I know’ she added excitedly, I’ll arrange Tyrone’s christening and I’ll insist that Pen and Caiti come for it.’
Suzanne’s posting was due to start at the beginning of September. Rebecca calculated that late August would be perfect for the christening; she started to get things organising so that the invitations could go out before the second baby arrived. When a card from Caitlin arrived announcing the birth of a daughter Charlotte Elizabeth, Rebecca was taken aback that she hadn’t known that Caiti was expecting. Had the others heard she wondered? Was there something wrong? All these thoughts ran through her mind and then she realised that she hadn’t spoken to Caitlin for months and probably she didn’t know about her own pregnancy or that Dylan had left, seemingly for good.
She worried that the whole circle of their friendship was breaking down. All the more important to have a reunion at the christening, she said to herself firmly. She would call Caitlin early evening it would be lunchtime in New York she calculated. She had noted the change of address details on the card.
‘Caitlin? It’s Rebecca.’
‘Becca! I’m so pleased you called, I thought we’d lost touch again and it’s my entire fault…’ Caitlin became overcome with emotion, ‘I’ve missed you so much.’
‘Hey, steady on. We’ve all missed you too and it’s not your fault. Mine as much as yours; we have a lot of news to catch up with. Congratulations first of all to you and Mario on producing baby Charlotte. You must be thrilled!’ The two chatted for half an hour catching up on each other’s news. Their conversation finished with Caitlin’s promise to come over to London for Tyrone’s Christening and the mini re-union that Rebecca was planning.
‘I must give Annie a call’ Caitlin announced, ‘I have a place in Paris that she can use if she would like it.’
‘Brilliant’ responded Rebecca, ‘It’s a bit like musical chairs only with houses!’ They said their goodbyes giggling like schoolgirls.
Rebecca – July 1979