Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (32) It Happened at the Seaview Hotel (Part 01)
It was towards the end of June when Iain Akhurst drove along the promenade at Sharpington-by-Sea.
It always made him smile when he visited the traditional seaside resort which he was pleased to see still boasted a Victorian Pier, The Palladium ballroom, and of course the Sharpington Fun Park.
He liked it because it was like stepping back in time with the illuminations, crazy golf, and the amusement arcades in fact all the usual things to have a great time by the seaside
He parked the car and walked along the promenade and paused to sit in the well maintained gardens and looked out to sea.
As he left the gardens after a few minutes he looked across to the Sharpington Fun Park.
It was the first purpose built amusement park to open in Britain, and had an assortment of rides, like the Rotor and the Wild Mouse, The Cyclone and the Morehouse Galloper, all very tame compared to a 21st century roller coaster but was still great fun, and he spent many a happy hour in there during his youth.
He toyed with the idea of going in but instead headed towards the seafront hotels.
After checking in he sat in the lounge bar of the Seaview Hotel and was enjoying a pint when she walked in.
He didn’t recognise her at first and he had to do a bit of double take.
She was still as beautiful as ever but her lustrous brown hair that used to be cut in a tidy bob now flowed in brunette waves over her narrow shoulders and the business suit she customarily used to wear had been replaced by faded denim jeans, a pink top and a long flowing cardigan cut in the style of an Afghan coat with fake fur trim and bright brocade panels.
Francine Delise looked so different from the young woman he had last seen 18 months earlier at their mutual friend Ran Michaeli’s New Year party.
Her eyes were sharp and intelligent behind her gold rimmed spectacles that sat on her aquiline nose and with her finely chiselled features she was the attractive side of beautiful but only for the fact she wasn’t wearing a scrap of make-up.
But despite the hair, the clothes and a lack of makeup, the eyes and the smile could not be disguised.
It was a case of “what you see is what you get with Francine” just as it was the first day she walked into the office straight out of University.
That was eight years earlier and as the old man of the team at 33 he adopted the role of the avuncular and took her under his wing and showed her the ropes and of course try as he might, not to, and despite the 12 year age difference he fell in love with her.
There was no double take for Francine, she recognised him instantly and she beamed a broad smile and he realized as she walked towards him that he was still in love with her.
“Iain Akhurst! She said “What are you doing here?”