Downshire Diary – (54) After the Lord Lieutenant’s Summer Ball
Neil Etherington was an average man approaching his thirtieth birthday not that he was a bad looking man, he wasn’t, but he wasn’t stunning, sexy or buff, he was strictly middling but his girlfriend
Samantha Barraclough was anything but, she was an absolute beauty three years younger, elegant, daintily petite, intelligent, funny, sexy and with a perfectly beautiful angelic voice, pure Carrington Chase educated perfection, Carrington Chase being Downshire’s version of Roedean, although those in Downshire thought it was the other way around, and it was a voice that made Charlotte Green sound common.
He pinched himself at the start of everyday, especially the ones on which he woke up beside her, just to check he wasn’t dreaming.
Because the good fortune that brought Samantha into his life was the type of thing that didn’t happen to him, and everyone who witnessed them together unanimously agreed that he was punching well above his weight.
They first encountered each other at a business meeting at the Abbottsford Regents Hotel, where she was a potential new client and he was trying to win a new account, but the meeting was unresolved as it was love at first sight.
Neil worked for a firm of architects called New Horizons whose head office was in Sharpington by Sea while Samantha Barraclough was approaching her 28th birthday and was a project consultant for the family business, Barraclough Ventures and the project that Samantha’s company was heading up was the regeneration of the former Industrial Power House of the county, Northchapel.
The love that bloomed between Samantha Barraclough and Neil Etherington in Abbottsford in June went from strength to strength
However things had not been all plain sailing since they had met, though not between the two of them they were completely simpatico.
The problems stemmed from a different quarter entirely and from those who should have been the most delighted for them, their close friends and family.
Neil and Samantha were the victims of snobbery, inverted and otherwise.
Her family thought she had set her sights to low while his nearest and dearest believed he had set his too high.
Her friends thought he was common while his thought she was a snob.
Only their closest friends Jonathon Hardman and Isabelle Decoene stuck by them.
So as a result they had found it difficult to fit inside each other’s worlds, but the couple believed that love will out and Samantha drew a line under the difficulties when she said
“If you can’t live in my world and I can’t live in yours we shall just have to make a world of our own”
If he hadn’t been in love with her already he certainly would have been after that speech.
As part of “making a world of their own” they decided to plan to spend as much time together as possible which meant staying at each other’s houses, normally on a pre-planned basis but on the night of the Lord Lieutenant’s Summer Ball in July Sam had pitched up at Neil’s in a taxi because she couldn’t face all the constant nagging from her friends and family about her unfortunate choice of a boyfriend.
So they spent the night but on the next afternoon she had to go in search of her car, which she had left at her sister’s house in the grand neighbourhood of Sharpington’s Granite Hill, which in a nod to San Francisco the locals nicknamed Nob Hill.
So they drove from his Cottage the relatively short distance from Brocklington to Sharpington and then followed the sign towards the posh part of town.
“I don’t get to Nob Hill as often as I’d like” he said and Samantha laughed and then she began
“I don’t get no...”
“Don’t say it” he interrupted, “you’re a lady remember”
And she laughed a very dirty laugh.
“Samantha Barraclough?” he said shocked “I thought you were a lady”
“I am a lady” she said when she could talk again “it’s just that you bring out my inner trollope”
And then she disintegrated in to laughter again.
When she had calmed herself she suddenly said
“Don’t drop me off yet”
“I’m not ready to say goodbye” she said and looked at him sadly
“Ok then to the promenade” he said
“Hooray” she cheered
They spent the next two hours walking hand in hand along the beach and the promenade.
“I’m so glad I didn’t go to the ball, I’ve had much more fun with you”
“It’s been a lovely weekend” he agreed
“But too short” Sam added
“Yes far too short” he agreed and then they fell into silence as they watched the holiday makers as they walked along and then they both stopped and looked at each other and said in unison
An hour later he drove her to her sister’s house where they shared a farewell kiss and he watched her walk away towards the house.