It's Gill With a 'G'
Copyright© 2010 by Texrep
I phoned Mrs. Holden and told her that I could do some of this work for her, and then told her how much an hour I would ask. There was a gasp over the connection.
"That is far more than I thought it would be."
"Mrs. Holden. I spent three years at Cambridge getting my degree, and since then I have been in advertising for fourteen years. Your customers will get adverts that will work, instead of throwing money away on column inches that don't have a chance. What is better value for money? I could probably re-word six or seven adverts in an hour, split that between your customers and it will be little enough to pay for a professional job." She said she would think about it and get back to me. If she had seven customers that wanted my help that would be good, if it was only one, then she would have to make her own decision, either swallow the cost or charge it all on to the one customer. Either way I wasn't bothered. The treatment handed out to me by Alex Wellman had been a lesson. You want my expertise? You pay for it.
I was getting uncomfortable living with mum and dad again. I really needed to get out and start looking for my own place. Initially when I came back I thought a good flat would do me, but since seeing and talking to Gill, I was ambivalent. Would a flat do, or may I really need a house? Possibly I was running here when a slow steady walk would be better. But I couldn't help my emotions, and they told me that despite what happened I wanted Gill in my life again. In one way our meeting had been unsuccessful. I had looked to finding closure, to put her behind me. Now I understood that I wouldn't get it, the wound to my heart had been opened again, and only Gill could heal that lesion.
I got a couple of calls inviting me to have a chat from two of the agencies I had sent my C.V. to. They were illuminating. As I suspected what goes in London was very different to the style of treatment in Birmingham. I was talking to John Ferguson at Melling Services. His was the second of the responses. He knew of Alex Wellman and his ethics.
"The man has no honour at all."He told me. "You are not the only one he shafted. I will wager that your script will re-appear almost word for word in another advert. The man's a Hyena." With his vitriol out of the way he went on to see if I could fit in. I went through some of the campaigns I had worked on, and showed him copies of the slogans and scripts. He had seen quite a few of them, and got more and more interested.
"Andy, we have never gone after national campaigns before. But with you on board we will have the talent to offer really good schemes. I can't say welcome aboard right now. I need to know that our Partners will be willing to fund this kind of high profile campaign. Let me get back to you. No more than two days, I promise, and don't accept any offers until we have spoken. I can't promise you the package you had in London, but it will be the best around here, that I can say."
I was pleased. I had got the ball rolling, and was confident now that my dismissal was not going to be a problem.
The next Saturday I was back waiting outside Gill's flat for when she got back from shopping. She didn't give me exactly a heartfelt welcome.
"Andy. I told you not to come again. It's painful to see you and be reminded of everything in our past." I ignored Gill, and instead presented Anita with a Doll I had bought. Doesn't every eight year old girl like dolls? Possibly not today, but back then the answer was yes, and I suspected that there had not been too many presents in Anita's short life. Anita took the Doll happily, remembering to thank me properly. Then she announced that the Doll's name was Looby Lou. I looked bewildered until Gill gave me the explanation. There was a programme on television with a character called Looby Lou. It was a less irritated Gill that invited me in for tea.
"Why did you call again, Andy? Is it just to hurt me? I know I hurt you, cannot you just forgive me or hate me and get on with your life?"
"No, Gill. I cannot." I replied. "Ever since I was seventeen, you were in my life. You supported me, encouraged me, made me laugh and laughed with me. We shared our interests, even the fantasies about people in the park when we had no money to do anything else. Not having money didn't matter, because we had each other. Gill! You became so much a part of my life that it was automatic for me to think 'us' not 'me'. Over the last eight years in London, I have been to Covent Garden to see the Opera, and the Ballet. I have watched Shakespeare at the Old Vic. I have been in the audience at the Royal Albert Hall for the proms, and I was even at the last night on one occasion. And I enjoyed the music, the singing and the dance. However there was blight on my enjoyment as the one person who I could truly share that with was not there. That person was you, Gill. When I came to see you last week I wanted to find that my love was gone, and buried. It wasn't, even after all this time it's still there, and I believe that your love is still there. Possibly just a dimly flickering ember, but I want to try and blow it into life again. Thank you for the tea. I will call again next week. If you tell me to go then, I will and that will be that. But if you want to try being friends again as we were, if you want to see if the little flickering ember can be coaxed back to a bright flame, tell me and we'll see what we can do." I thought that Gill would throw a fit, but she smiled.
"Well, well. Andy Gresham is being forceful."
"Yeah. I press the button to open bus doors quite a lot now." Gill giggled.
"I'm astonished that you remember that."
"Of course I do. The doors opened on the best years of my life. Gill with a 'G'." I walked to the door. "I shall be here next week." She nodded, then walked over and asked.
"Will you kiss me?" I made no reply, simply bent my head and pressed my lips against hers. The jolt shook me. Gill accepted the kiss then just looked at me, with questions in her eyes. Those I couldn't answer because she was asking questions of herself. Whatever answers she found I couldn't know. I wondered if she knew either.
"Next week." I said.
"Next week." She repeated.
I had a job by Tuesday evening. They made me a fair offer. As John Ferguson had said it didn't match what I got in London, but it was probably as good as they could go. I hadn't heard from Mrs. Holden But that didn't matter. If she wanted work done it was something that I could handle in an hour or so in the evening. Dad invited me for a drink down at the 'Horse and Jockey' again. I had the feeling that this time he was going to be questioning me. He was. Within two seconds of our taking our first pint, he asked me what was going on.
"Andy. You have been to see Gill. What is it about?" He was my dad and he deserved the truth.
"To be honest, Dad, I went with an idea that I could lay the ghost. Gill had meant so much to me, and even after the divorce I still had lots of feelings for her. However, having seen her I realise that whatever happened, I am still in love with her, and would like to try and find some sort of life with her." He nodded slowly, and took another pull at his pint before answering.
"Son, I know you have a true heart, and I always thought that Gill was perfect for you. If that is how you feel, try hard to get her back. This life is a lot easier with the right woman by your side, rather than the woman who will just do." It was good to know that someone could see the future without all the cloud to complicate matters.
"What do you think mum will say? She was pretty adamant about my divorcing Gill."
"I'll tell you something, but it goes no further. Promise me."
"Yes, of course."
"When I was in the army in Korea, your mum had a little fling with another bloke. I am sure that it didn't go as far as Gill went, but nonetheless it caused us a lot of trouble at the time. Your mum was so angry with herself, more than I was actually. You see, she was the woman I wanted, needed, in my life, not the woman who would just do. I think the realisation that I may have walked away is what made her so inflexible about what Gill did. It's like the reformed smoker becoming the most virulent opponent of smoking by others. I am willing to bet that Gill is so angry at herself right now in the same way. Son, it is that anger that will be your problem."
The more that I thought about dad's words the more prophetic they seemed to be. I sensed that anger in Gill. Perhaps it wouldn't be as easy as I thought.
Next Saturday I was there at Gill's. I took a new tack. Instead of going in to chat over tea, I asked Anita, if she would like to go to McDonalds instead. Gill would have protested, but Anita's eagerness for the treat drowned her out. We got in the car, Gill in front and Anita in the back seat, and we went to Solihull, the nearest McDonalds to Stechford. Gill looked across at me, and said sotto voce.
"Sneak.". I grinned, and she smiled.
There was little talk about us. Anita was so full of being at the place she had seen on television. Well it wasn't the actual place, because the adverts were shot in the States, but the layout was similar enough to convince her that this was the one. With a mouth full of Big Mac, and a carton of diet Pepsi, nothing could spoil Anita's happiness that day. I had a Big Mac too, but couldn't eat it all as I had one of mum's sandwiches for lunch. Gill had only ordered coffee, so she took my Big Mac and nibbled at it. Suddenly she became sad. We had often shared food together and without thinking Gill had re-kindled a habit from our past. We looked at each other, both knowing the memory that brought back.
We got Anita back to the flat, and she immediately went into her room to watch the television. She did thank me very politely without being prompted for taking her out. Yes, Anita thought I was taking her out. Her mum was just an afterthought.