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Have a Cuppa with Shirley (or Martin)

Oh, thank goodness you’re here. I can’t thank you enough for coming. You must promise me not to breathe a word of this to another soul. Ta. Well, where to start?

He knows. He’s always known. To think, after all these years. Well, it’s been all our married life, hasn’t it? Never said a word. Never treated Elizabeth any different than if she’d been his own. Or John. You’ve seen them together. Has any other boy had such a devoted Granddad?

Well, this morning he comes in, to this very kitchen, and says, "Shirley, I’ve told Emma the truth." "What truth, you daft pilchard?" I said, never suspecting that he had anything to say. He looks at me real seriously, and says, "I don’t have any seed, Shirley. Never had. Can’t graft children. Nor grandchildren." And with that he walked out the door.

Oh dear. Give me a minute, and I’ll be all right. No good crying over spilled milk they say. And it’s been spilled for nearly fifty years…

I didn’t mean to lie to him all these years, you know. He’s been a good husband, has Martin, and a good father too, if you take my meaning. I might have married him anyway. I quite fancied him, even at the beginning. But he was so shy then, you see, hardly ever said a word. And an under-gardener. Not in a position to be courting. Anyway, it took me quite a while to get him to talk to me. By then I wasn’t free. But Mr. Monty got me in the family way, and you see, then I was free. He couldn’t marry me, a man in his position and me a house maid. So I went with Martin. He took me to the village, to the pictures. He was such a gentleman. Under the circumstances, mind you, I didn’t have time for it. Had to practically force myself on him, but in the end nature took its course. Or so I always believed he thought.

Elizabeth was a tiny baby when she came. Wasn’t hard to believe she was a bit early. He looked after her, loved her. Mr. Monty loved her too. She was quite a spoilt child, was that girl. I always wanted a big family, but no more children ever came. I suppose I know why, now.

Mr. Monty? Well, I loved him too. He was so different than Martin. So polite and polished. He needed me, he was lonely. But I’m not one to make the same mistake twice, if you take my meaning…Hang on, who’s there? Martin? Is that you?

"I’d have married you anyway, Shirley."

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