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Open Features: A People Person

Laura is a people person - helping others to solve their problems on her radio show. But can she solve the problems in her own marriage?

Sharon Boothroyd tells an all-too-believable tale.

‘And now we’ve got Josie on the line. How can we help you, Josie?’

‘I’m trying to trace my father.’

Laura’s ears pricked up. Now this could be interesting…

They aired a variety of problems, reflecting life in today’s demanding, complex society.

‘Late Night With Laura’ was one of the radio station’s biggest attractions. From 11 pm to 1 am, on weekend nights only, local people were offered the opportunity to phone in with any kind of emotional trauma.

Laura felt the success of the show was down to her. A qualified counsellor, she was a ‘people person’ - and she prided herself on it.

Her honey warm voice soothed frazzled nerves and her assured, authoritative manner seemed to allay almost everyone’s fears, doubts and insecurities.

However, on this occasion, the line suddenly went dead.
‘There are organisations that can help with your particular problem, Josie,’ Laura continued smoothly.

’Have other listeners faced this issue, and was it a happy ending, or sad? Please ring in after this short break.’

Actually, there was no need for the appeal. Her assistant had ten lines already on hold.

Over coffee, she thought about her own husband Jerry.
A debonair, relaxed man in his mid –fifties, he was a former director of his own media IT company.

He’d sold his business and taken early retirement. Most of his time was spent on the golf course or socialising in the club bar.
This was their first marriage. But, sadly, they were currently experiencing what she would term as a ‘communication breakdown.’

Tonight they were going to sit down and talk…

Yet when she arrived home, he was nowhere to be seen. No phone messages. No note, either.

There might be a further clue in his office.

His engagement diary caught her eye. She flicked to tomorrow’s entry.

‘J – 1pm.’ Who was J?

Probably lunch with a golfing buddy. There was nothing to worry about.

Wearily, she made her way to bed.

*

‘Darling, it’s ten to nine.’ Jerry gently shook her. ‘Here’s a cup of tea.’

‘Where were you last night?’ she asked.

Jerry looked sheepish. ‘Late drinks with the golf club crowd. Lost track of time.’

‘You could have let me know,’ she snapped.

‘I’m going to the bank today. I’ve got something to arrange.’

He ignored her comment, then rather conveniently left the room.

Her ears pricked up again. Something to arrange? It sounded very mysterious…

*

It was now 12.45 pm.

Time for her action plan…

She spotted him, sauntering out of the bank, swinging his car keys. She’d stationed herself (and her car) around the corner.
They both set off. She was careful to keep a safe distance.

As he pulled into the car park, she realised that tailing him had been a waste of time.

She’d been right, after all – he was meeting a golf club buddy for lunch. But was the buddy male or female?

Laura parked up and strolled into the bar. Jerry was chatting to a young, glamorous brunette.

This then, must be ‘J’…

‘Hello darling!’ He was surprised - but not fearful. ‘Meet Jackie.’

‘Hello,’ Laura smiled politely. Jackie smiled back.

‘I wanted to thank your husband personally for his substantial donation,’ she gushed.

‘Donation?’

‘He wanted to remain anonymous,’ she went on ‘And we at SOS fully respect that.’

‘I see,’ she murmured. She didn’t.

The SOS charity helped the homeless. Jerry had made a donation?

‘Well, I’d better get on.’ Jackie drained her coffee cup.
‘I’ll send you regular updates.’ She and Jerry shook hands and she left.

‘What’s gong on?’ Laura demanded.

‘Is it a crime to donate to a charity?’

‘Well –’ He could have discussed it with her first!

‘I know you wouldn’t like it. That’s why I kept it from you. But then, you’re not a very charitable person yourself.’

‘Really?’ She folded her arms defensively. ‘I‘m fed up of your attitude. Sarcastic, snide, secret comments –’

‘Hang on –‘

‘You pretend to care, but it’s all an act. You enjoy lording it over your callers. In fact, it’s what you might term ‘a strong sense of superiority.’’

‘They’re not in a position to help themselves,’ she put in softly.

‘I realise that,’ he acknowledged. ‘Genuine counsellors can genuinely help. But you’re not a counsellor, are you?’

‘I studied hard on that course,’ she pointed out.

‘You left after six weeks! You lied to the radio station to simply further your career.’

So what? Laura couldn’t see anything wrong with that. And that was precisely why their relationship was on the line.
He wasn’t ambitious. Just an average. boring plodder.

She wanted to write self help books, have her own TV show (a Jeremy Kyle style would suit her best, she thought) and eventually become a household celebrity.

‘I heard the SOS appeal on your show,’ he explained. ‘Then I heard you verbally abusing the service users. In private, of course.’

There was an icy moment of tension.

His words had stung. And stung deeply.

‘I don’t like the way you spy on me, either,’ he said
‘It’s over, Laura’, he stated. Then he walked away.

Their marriage had ended. Tears glistened.

Yet she was resilient. Her precious, unique skills and abilities would take her to a better place than Jerry.

Don’t forget poor Josie! She needed her help to trace her father.

All was not lost.

After all, she was a ‘people person’, wasn’t she? She prided herself on it…

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