Here you will find extra info about some of the characters in my books.
WHAT CATHY DID NEXT…
Before Andrew and Cathy relocated to Cape Town he admitted that the beautiful house he’d shown her photos of was permanently let to a nice South African family who had no plans to move out any time soon. The two of them would instead be living in his other property, a mansion flat a few miles away.
‘Why did you do that?’ she asked, not unreasonably. ‘Did you think I was only going for the house?’
‘Well obviously I hoped not,’ he replied, ‘but I thought it might have been more difficult to sell the idea to you on the flat – those apartments don’t photograph well. Anyway, you’ll see. You might want to change a few things…’
He wasn’t kidding – the apartment, on the sixth floor of a prestigious block at Sea Point, needed a huge amount of work.
When Cathy and Andrew came to Cape Town on holiday the previous year there was maintenance work going on at the block so they stayed in a sweet little house further along the coast in Camps Bay, and on the one time they looked in at the Sea Point flat she didn’t really notice how run-down it was. Of course it was bound to be, nobody had lived there permanently for years, not since Andrew had gone back to live in the UK. There had been odd times when he’d returned to Cape Town to visit and stayed in the flat, and other occasions when he’d let friends use it, but it hadn’t been anyone’s home for a very long time, and it showed.
The reason Cathy didn’t notice how dismal it was straight away, was because of the view. Huge picture windows looked straight out onto the promenade and the sea beyond, and as she walked from room to room she was drawn instantly to those windows, and that view, so that nothing else really stuck in her mind.
But now, eight months later, moving into the flat as their permanent home, it was depressingly obvious that the view wasn’t going to be enough.
‘We’ll have to get estimates for a new kitchen,’ she told Andrew, ‘and both the bathrooms are terribly old-fashioned. Just filling one of those baths would be enough to cause a national water shortage.’
Andrew hadn’t noticed. ‘Everything functions,’ he said. ‘But if you really think so… we’ll get some quotes.’
With Andrew it was all about the position, and he had a point. ‘These places really hold their value,’ he said to her, as if that made up for everything else.
‘You sound like an estate agent.’
‘But just look,’ he said waving his arm in the direction of the sea. ‘And you must admit it’s a convenient place to live.’
‘Really?’ Cathy raised an eyebrow.
It was certainly convenient for the promenade. It was convenient for wandering along the road to the swish Winchester Mansions for cocktails, or their Sunday jazz brunch. It was very convenient for Green Point, where there was yet more promenade and seafront. But it was hopeless if you wanted to nip out for a morning paper (everyone in Sea Point seemed to have them delivered), or if you ran out of bread.
Cathy frowned. She loved Cape Town, and she loved Andrew, but she wasn’t loving life at Sea Point. It was impossible to meet people, they never saw anyone else in the apartment block – for all she knew the rest of the flats were completely empty. She was missing her friends, just being able to pick up the phone to Sally, or call in on Karen when she was passing. She felt guilty about leaving Aunt Stella, even though she knew Mavis had made her very welcome in her home and Stella herself seemed perfectly happy and content.
Each morning Cathy looked down from one of her sixth floor picture windows onto the main entrance and watched the maids as they turned up for their daily cleaning duties. They arrived mostly in twos and threes and were a slow-moving, chattering, laughing collection of girls, each in the uniform of dark trousers and T shirt with a pastel tabard over, which were regulation workwear in all the cleaning companies. They looked like carers or agency nursing staff, except that they carried with them black plastic bags which Cathy assumed contained cleaning equipment. Who doesn’t already have dusters, polish and toilet cleaner in their home, she wondered? Obviously the non-cleaning residents of Sea Point apartments – nor feather dusters she observed one morning, as a pastel-clad maid disappeared into the entrance lobby with one sticking out of her black bag.
I can’t live here, she thought, suddenly.
‘Andrew, I can’t live here,’ she said.
Andrew put his coffee cup down. He had seen how restless Cathy had become, and how unlike herself. He’d been expecting something like this.
‘Then we’ll look for something else, my darling. I want you to be happy living here, not just to put up with it.’
And so the flat in Sea Point was put on the market (Andrew was right, it did hold its value…) and they started to drive about looking at other locations. Cathy perked up, and coming back to Sea Point each evening started to be less of a penance now that there was an end in sight.
Out on False Bay the small, bustling town and fishing harbour of Kalk Bay attracted them initially because of its renowned amateur dramatic society, who had the amazingly good fortune to have their own theatre to perform in. They’d looked for a suitable group to join in Sea Point, but the only one they found did nothing but classics and although Andrew professed to like Shakespeare ‘as much as the next man’, they’d both hoped for the chance of something more contemporary too. Kalk Bay, with it’s wonderful arty community and free-wheeling atmosphere, fitted the bill perfectly.
They found a house, quirky and pretty, with balconies looking out over the sea from its elevated position above the main street, and the flat in Sea Point sold quicker than they expected. It was obvious that most of the furniture was not going to suit their new home, even assuming it would fit in the smaller rooms, so there were many decisions to make about what to take and what to get rid of. Cathy was energised by organising their move, happier now that she was having some input of her own rather than just inheriting everything of Andrew’s. And he had the sense to step back and let her make the decisions, pleased to see that her enthusiasm for the move was giving her so much pleasure and a new bounce in her step.
In only a matter of weeks they had re-located, a move that excited them both. A new beginning, one that they were embarking on together – Andrew started to wonder why he had ever thought that Sea Point was such a good idea. Cathy was busy with the new house and garden, and they went out often in the evenings for dinner or to the theatre, but Andrew had noticed that she seldom went out without him, and so far everyone they’d met was as a couple. So he cooked up a cunning plan, it was daring, but risks were called for.
He’d been out far longer than Cathy had expected, and when he turned up mid-morning, backing into the living room as he pushed the door open with his bottom, Cathy could see that he was carrying a large lidded cardboard box.
‘I got a bit side-tracked,’ he said, ‘and…’ he reached into the box and brought out a spaniel puppy, ‘I found this in the pet rescue centre!’
Cathy regarded the tiny dog in astonishment. ‘You went out for bread,’ she said, ‘Olympia Bakery, wholemeal cob – how could you have confused that with pet sanctuary, spaniel? If you were going to do this why didn’t you get a cat? I know about cats.’
`And that’s exactly what I was going to do, but it’s like Ikea in there – you have to walk through Dogs to get to the Feline Department. This little chap’s whole litter had been abandoned and all his brothers and sisters had been taken, he was the only one left and he looked a bit forlorn…’ The puppy seemed to sense it was his turn to make a small gesture to further their case. He licked Andrew’s chin.
‘But you don’t even like dogs – you hated that one of Moira’s.’
‘Yes, because it bit me, and every time I walked into the room it growled at me.’
He put the little puppy on the floor where it wagged its tail enthusiastically and then lifted a paw up to Andrew.
‘Maybe all dogs hate you…How do know this one won’t turn out to be the same? He looks alright now but he might be a wolf in sheep’s clothing.’
Andrew picked the puppy up and examined it as closely as the wriggling little body would allow. ‘No,’ he said, ‘no it’s definitely a dog in dog’s clothing,’ and he placed him back on the floor. The puppy scampered across to Cathy and started to chew her slipper.
‘Andrew, this is madness, we don’t have the first idea about how to look after a dog.’
‘True, but there’s a vet’s out on the Muizenburg road, and they might have some suggestions.’
Cathy looked down at the puppy, which had stopped chewing and was looking up at her. She bent down and stroked his silky little ear, and the dog put his head on one side and appeared to wink at her. Something remarkable happened in that moment to Cathy, who had never been troubled before with the inconvenience of maternal feelings.
‘I don’t suppose you got him on sale or return?’ she asked.
‘Then I suppose he’ll have to stay.’ She picked him up and they regarded each other, then he licked her hand. And it was a done deal – from then on the puppy was her baby and she his mummy.
‘What about the bread?’
‘Ah, I forgot – sorry…’
The next few days passed in a blur of puppy-related activities. All of a sudden the household revolved around a small dog, now called Daniel. The neighbours (who already had a dog) were called in to inspect him and offer advice. He was taken to the vet, who checked him over, and relieved Andrew of a vast sum for the privilege. Toys were bought, bedding, special puppy food – a whole new world opened up to Cathy and Andrew.
‘I think you love that dog more than me,’ he said to her one evening, as she sat on the rug playing with Daniel.
‘Nonsense, darling,’ she said laughing. But a little part of her wondered if she actually might…
When Daniel was allowed out for walks it was almost always Cathy who took him, and naturally she met the same people and dogs each time. She learned which dogs to avoid, and which ones Daniel wanted to run about with, and she made friends with other owners correspondingly. Life in Kalk Bay was good and there was nothing about it that Cathy would have changed.
She made sure to go back home to the UK once a year, catching up with Aunt Stella and all her old friends. Sometimes Andrew went with her, sometimes she made the trip alone. Each time she visited she felt a little more distant to her old life, a little more removed from it, and she started to wonder how many more times she’d want to make the journey back there when her life in Kalk Bay was so obviously the one she wanted. Without her noticing it, South Africa had become home. She skipped one year’s visit completely, but then felt awful about it afterwards and made up for it by staying longer the following year, which was an awful wrench because she missed Andrew (and grown-up Daniel) hugely.
And then came the phone call from Mavis, which she’d known was inevitable but was nonetheless unexpected, and suddenly she was packing as many warm clothes as she still had in her wardrobe (even though it was summer there), adding a black dress and jacket, and making the eleven hour flight across Africa and Europe again.
And as they neared Heathrow she couldn’t help wondering, will this be the last time?