I got off the train and everything was different. The air smelled different, there was a taste of fun and frivolity. Big white birds screeched high above me, but where was Peter?
“You must be Jennffer. I'm Peter's mother, but call me Audrey.”
“Oh, nice to meet you, Audrey.” I gotta be careful.
“You must be wondering why this dragon of a woman wants to see you first.”
Be careful! “Oh, wonderful, I know where Peter got his sense of humour from.”
“Well, Jennffer! He has certainly picked the best of the bunch – top score for beauty and humour.”
“Thank you, Audrey! Where's the sea?”
Peter's parents had returned from many years in a foreign land and had bought a house next to the sea. I was invited for a couple of weeks in the summer holidays. I hoped for a good time and a chance to see the sea.
“Just around the next corner...” was a short wide road, with a big flower bed in the middle, running down to the sea. There was the big blue – blue below and blue above – not at all what I expected – not a very large ornamental pond – the big blue.
I dropped my suitcase and ran down to the sea. Who put all this sand here? It's not easy to run on. I kicked off my shoes and went into the water. It was not blue – it was water – it was fun.
After two minutes I realised that I was making a fool of myself. I looked around. Everybody was fooling about. No one noticed me. Why were all these children wearing coloured underwear? I walked back to Audrey.
Audrey just stood there and looked at me. “I suppose you have never seen the sea before.”
“That's right. Oh, you should have seen my first time in snow last winter.”
“Oh, well, Jennffer! As long as you are reasonably crazy. But look, there's Peter and his dad.”
Was I pleased to see Peter! We walked to his parents' home. Peter's dad was a nice guy. “Audrey and I want to find out if all that Peter has said about you is true. I mean, it's obvious about the good-looking and the brains, but what about...”
“Oh, it's all true, but much, much worse.” I told them.
It was a big, old, three-story Edwardian house and Peter's dad Jim had renovated half of it.
“The truth is that I'm an awful schoolgirl. I skip classes, I do what I like, I leave the school at night, I go to the village, and the list goes on. But you don't want to hear that too?”
“Oh, yes we do. Why don't you study what the other girls do?” asked Jim.
“I want to do what my mother does, you've heard about my mother? I want to do business studies and maybe an MBA.”
“Oh, yes of course, your mother is the president of...”
“Yes, I want to go into management or politics or both. Peter wants to do engineering. I think that we'll be great together.”
Audrey was not a dragon, she was a very good cook. Dinner was great and the talking afterwards. I had expected a single bedroom, but no, a big, old, double brass bed on the top floor. Peter and I made love very slowly and watched the sun going down into the sea.
After breakfast Audrey said “Peter and Jim are working on the winter garden today and I'm going to teach you to swim.”
I felt stupid standing there on the sand wearing a red bra and knickers.
“No, no, Jennffer! It's not underwear, it's a swimming costume. Look I'm wearing one too, just like hundreds of other people here. Right, let's get into the water and...”
What a surprise! Audrey taught me to swim. I found it not too difficult. I liked it. I was having fun. I do like to be beside the seaside, beside the seaside, beside the sea.
“I don't eat ice cream and shell fish out of a tub every day, but when we have visitors, well, just once in a while.” Audrey and I were sitting on the pier. She had shown me the delights of the little seaside town, the little children with their buckets and spades building sandcastles on the beach, the big long candy bar that removes teeth, the deckchairs, the donkey rides, the brass band, and more.
“You know, Audrey, I feel, I really feel like I'm on holiday. I'm glad I came. I can relax here and...”
“And forget that you run Uffetton School for Girls?”
“Who told you that? Oh, it's true. I run the school on a day-to-day basis and together with Miss Stiltoe, that's the head teacher. It's hard work, but I can do it and I want to do it.”
“Peter told me that you kicked the last head teacher out of the school with your foot.”