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Open Features: A D-I-Y Marriage - Part 12

Muriel and Cyril kiss for the first time - a brief kiss.

Another episode of Brian Lockett's intriguing story will appear in Open Writing tomorrow. To read earlier chapters click on http://www.openwriting.com/cgi-bin/mt-search.cgi?IncludeBlogs=1&search=Brian+Lockett

When Cyril closed the door behind her on her second visit to no. 13, Muriel said “Just to keep the record straight, Cyril, yes I accept your proposal of marriage. Now you may kiss me.”

Cyril frowned, looked puzzled and was about to speak when he caught the look on her face.

“Of course,” he said, bent his head and pecked her cheek.

“On the mouth,” said Muriel firmly. “Engaged and married couples kiss each other on the mouth.”

“Oh.” Cyril’s hand flew to his upper lip. “But my moustache … “

“It will come to no harm, Cyril. And I haven’t got any contagious or infectious disease.”

She raised her head and kept her eyes open.

The touch of lips was brief. Muriel sighed and made her way to the stairs. “First on the left I seem to remember.”

Cyril had not told her that this had been his mother’s bedroom. He hadn’t needed to. Since Muriel had no intention of becoming his mother she was quite ruthless in the matter of redecoration. Cyril said nothing, noting her requirements on a pad which he had presciently placed on the bedside table. He did not flinch as Muriel went into detail, but she could almost feel the wounds she was inflicting. She was unrelenting, however, and Cyril, uncharacteristically silent, remained impassive throughout.

“If you would like to come along to the workshop,” he said as they left the room, “we can get patterns and colours on the screen”

He led her through the kitchen and along a covered pathway to a door. He explained as he unlocked.

“My father had two cars, hence this double garage. We got rid of them and I did the conversion.”

As she stepped inside and the lights came on, Muriel gasped. The place was huge. A workbench occupied each of three of the four corners. An en-suite bathroom and toilet the fourth. The upper parts of all walls were covered in cabinets and shelves.

“I spend a lot of time in here,” said Cyril. There was no mistaking the pride in his voice. “I work here most evenings and occasionally I sleep here.” He strode across to a wall fitment and tugged a handle to reveal a drop-down bed. “I’ve sound-proofed it, so there is no noise pollution problem from the machinery.”

“What on earth do you do here, Cyril? This is a fully equipped, state-of-the-art workshop. It’s almost … “

“An operating theatre, yes. I thought you’d see the similarity. As to what I do, well, I make things, cupboards, shelves, cabinets, tables, chairs and so on. I also repair and restore, try to make as good as new. I thought, with your background, you’d appreciate that.”

He was moving around, opening cupboards, switching on more lights. She caught glimpses of neatly printed cards on the cupboard doors: Adhesives and Sealants; Nails, Screws and Fixings; Hand Tools; Power Tools; Power Tool Accessories; Paint (Exterior); Paint (Interior). Some of the larger cupboards had roll-up shutters.

“Good God,” said Muriel. “You seem to have combined Homebase and Wickes.”

“With a touch of Travis Perkins. All the local branches know me well. In fact, I have made quite a few suggestions to them about stock control, pre-ordering and, in particular, store layout. Take, for instance, … ”

But she had already walked away. He followed explaining with great enthusiasm some scheme for making all the organisations more efficient and profitable.

“Yes,” she said when he paused for breath. “Can we have a cup of tea and talk practical matters now? A wedding day and the honeymoon, for instance.”

“Very wise. I’ve marked up possible dates in my diary. I don’t know how much notice you have to give to the hospital. A month, perhaps? I think I can accommodate some overlap."

She stopped walking.

“I think I can guess what comes next. Something like At our age I don’t think a honeymoon would be appropriate. Am I right?”

Cyril touched her shoulder and smiled. He seemed genuinely pleased.

“I’m so glad you said that, Muriel. I had feared that you still harboured some silly, romantic notions about beginning a permanent relationship at our time of life.”

Suppressing a strong urge to scream, Muriel turned to face him and smiled.

“At our time of life, at our age. I think I’ll have to try to avoid conversations with you that might give rise to phrases of this kind, Cyril. For the time being, just follow me. I think I can remember where our kitchen is. And what’s that noise? It’s been bugging me ever since you opened the door.”

Cyril looked reproachful.

“Have you forgotten? It’s Thursday, so it has to be Wagner, hasn’t it?”

“Of course. How stupid of me.”

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