Welcome to the second Chapter in the serialisation of the critically acclaimed novel There There My Dear. If you missed Chapter One, you can catch up here!
There There My Dear
Leaning back in his chair with his hands clasped behind his head, Harold Connor looked around the room and his eyes settled on one of the many photographs hanging on the wall. It was a publicity shot taken during a diplomatic trip many years ago. He looked at the one face that always held him. The face of his dead wife.
Quickly he looked away.
Idly he had been reading the morning newspapers when one particular article had inspired him to take action, to do something. Only he did not know what. Simply he knew that he had to do something. The article that triggered his imagination also made him laugh out loud and, perhaps, cry a little inside. A few short years ago he would never have come across the item as he never used to read the papers. These days were different. These days he felt that it was his duty to take in the messages pumped out by the partisan press in their attempts to portray impartiality. These days he had more time.
Since the death of his wife some years ago Harold Connor had lived the life of a recluse. A comfortable recluse with no real concerns and no real desire to be seen or heard. His rustic home near the Suffolk coast was perfect for him. Close enough to London for his sons to visit him yet secluded enough to protect his privacy. It was privacy that was so important to him now and a complete contrast to how he used to live his life.
He had been keeping himself to himself in his Georgian manor house in Aldeburgh, the village that he saw as one of the prettiest in the country. It was a place that drew in the crowds during the summer and still offered that beautiful and lonely melancholy in the dull and lean months of winter.
During recent years his garden had become his labour of love, and love it he did. Recently he had scaled down his own gardening activities, leaving the majority of the heavy manual work to the hired help. However, he was very much involved in the day-to-day maintenance of the grounds, such as pruning, deadheading and, from time to time, planting. Things were so very different for him now.
He had always been an active man and he kept himself busy still with study, projects and writing, as well as gardening. From time to time he had offered advice and counsel to his eldest son, helping him to forge his way in his chosen profession. There is no real irony in the fact that Harold Connor’s son was the leader of the Conservative Party. He saw no irony in provenance. There may be no doubt that his son had followed in his father’s footsteps because Harold Connor had been the Conservative Prime Minister of Great Britain over twenty years previously. He had served his Queen and country for almost two terms.
His second term had come to an abrupt end with the death of his beloved wife. Following the tragedy, Harold had resigned from public office and withdrew to his beautiful home and to the pleasures of gardening. It was his therapy.
Still gazing at the photograph on the wall, Harold recalled that fated diplomatic trip, he even remembered the photo- shoot and the words of the photographer – ‘Now there’s the face of a man who knows he’s just changed the course of history’. These words had lived with Harold Connor ever since that day.
Within hours of the photo-shoot, within hours of the photographer having said those apocryphal words, Ruth Connor, the Prime Minister’s wife, was dead.
Harold’s eyes seldom watered any more, but he did feel the hollowness in his stomach as he relived that fateful evening. That emptiness moved around his body and he was aware that his consciousness was changing.
He still did not know what he was going to do, not for certain. So soon after reading the newspaper article, there had been little time to formulate a way forward. There was no clear plan in his mind’s eye but he was sure that he would do something. He also knew that his actions would lead to reactions and consequences.
He knew that the choices he would make over the next few hours, days and weeks would lead to just one certain outcome. His own death.
With this in mind he did not feel too concerned when he pulled a packet of cigarettes from the top drawer of his desk. For months now he had resisted the urge to indulge in the filthy habit. Now things were different. There was no doubt in his mind that his fate was sealed and that smoking would not be the cause of his demise.
He lit a cigarette and watched the grey-blue smoke stream towards the high ceiling of his study. He watched the flow of the narcotic haze as it altered in shape and size and direction – starting out as a uniform stream before guttering and losing form to the drafts and vectors way above his head, then disappearing into the spring sunshine with just dust motes in its wake. The flow from order to chaos mesmerised him and genuinely he enjoyed the moment.
To Be Continued…
I’m very excited about sharing my new novel There There My Dear with you and I really hope that you’ve enjoyed the opening Chapters. If you have enjoyed them, or have any thoughts (good or bad) on the story so far, then please take a moment to leave a comment below. Alternatively, you can get in touch with me via my Contact Form at the bottom of the Home Page , or through my Facebook Page. I love engaging with my readers, so it would be great to hear from you.
Chapter Three to be published next week.
Very best wishes,
Sign Up To Neil’s Newsletter for the latest news and book talk. Announcements, reviews, signings, talks & author events, competitions & giveaways…and much more! JOIN THE CONVERSATION TODAY!