Mary Copeland was a fourth-generation immigrant, living in Kilburn in north London, she had never married or had children – just did not meet the right guy – although she had had her chances. Now in her late thirties, she had resigned herself to her single lifestyle.
Mary had been a shopworker all her life, for the last fifteen years had worked in the West End of London. And for the last five, in Selfridges department store, and by this time had settled into the rhythm of life.
To meet Stephen was unexpected, to say the least. An Irishman from Limerick, Stephen – Steve – was working in London, like so many Irishmen before him. And, like many Irishmen before him, Steve was involved in construction. Latterly, he had found a cushy number working at the Palace of Westminster – ironic given Steve’s political beliefs. For Steve, though not the most informed of men, was a staunch Irish Republican.
Steve met Mary one Friday night, and Mary was disarmed by his drunken charm. Thus began a somewhat tempestuous, on-off, affair. Often, it could hardly be construed as a relationship, and was almost over so many times before, eventually, Mary discovered that she was pregnant at the age of 39. There was certainly a desire by the two to make things work “for the baby”, although this was easier said than done, and the two of them were often not even a couple.
This love story was set against the backdrop of Britain in the Seventies. The country was gradually becoming poorer, the lines of the unemployed steadily increasing, and it was no great surprise when, eventually, Steve was laid off. In cruel bad timing, the baby, Paul, was just six months old.
There followed long bouts of unemployment, interspersed with short spells of cash-in-hand work. To make matters worse, still in touch with his family, Steve had heard about work back home.
Promising that he would pave the way, that the family would follow once the money was flowing again, Steve left back for Ireland in 1980. His baby, Paul, was almost three.
for Fandango’s One Word Cjallenge (FOWC), construe.