The further adventures of Stan -4
After Christmas my life, and Stan's went back to our normal routine. However, I couldn't help thinking about what Angela had said about how limited his life was for a man his age.
“Stan, I know you go to the pub on weekends, sometimes, but don't you miss having young people around you?” I asked him one night after dinner.
“You know its funny, but I actually prefer the company of older people. One of my best friends is Fred, who lived across the road from me when I lived at Minnie's house. We get together now and again, and he has been very kind to recommend jobs that he hears about but can't take on himself. But he is 50ish, I think. He's divorced and has grown up girls – probably not that much younger than your girls are, although I don't think they're married. I never think about the age difference between us. We're just friends with common interests. Did I tell you that he bought Minnie's house?”
“No, you didn't. Do you know how much he had to pay for it?”
“Because it was on the market for such a long time, I think he got it for £150,000. But he has big plans for it. He has just got planning permission to extend it by a third, just like he suggested to me that he might, and when he sells it, he hopes to get over £300,000. He showed me the plans. It has a huge kitchen cum dining area going the entire length of the house – about 24 feet, and two bedrooms upstairs, each with an en suite.”
“And presumably a downstairs bathroom as well?” I asked.
“Not only is he making the downstairs bathroom bigger, but he is taking a bit off the living room and making an en suite for the downstairs bedroom too.”
“Four toilets in a small bungalow. That will make it rather unusual to say the least. Maybe he is thinking of using it as several bedsits?”
“I think he was more thinking that since he had the space, it was the best use for it.”
But I didn't want to completely get the conversation diverted from my prying into Stan's private life.
“Going back to you again, what about your friends from school days? Do you keep up with any of them?”
“Not really, but I was always somewhat of a loner. I got a job as soon as I could leave school, and left home more or less at the same time, so I wasn't in the neighbourhood anymore. I don't really keep in contact with any of them.”
“I don't mean to be personal, but what about a girlfriend – or boyfriend?” I was very embarrassed by this conversation, but we had never talked about his sex life, and although I assumed he was straight, I didn't know that for a fact. I had been known to make a mistake with one of my friends in my younger days.
He laughed. “You're blushing,” he said. “I am straight, since that is what you are asking, really, isn't it? And I have had the odd girlfriend, but never anything serious. I'm too young for that. I like the odd date, but have never felt inclined to get into a lasting relationship with anyone. To be honest, I have spent more time with you than I have with any other woman in my entire life – almost including my mother.”
Then he added, “All this talk about getting me a woman, are you worried that when I am here on my own, when you are visiting your daughters, that I would have a girl around to stay?”
“Well, I suppose the thought did cross my mind,” I admitted.
“I wouldn't do that,” he said, very firmly. “It would be something that you wouldn’t approve of, with your religious background and such, and I wouldn't want to do anything to offend you.”
“Your sex life or lack of it, is entirely your business Stan. And I don't want to force my Christian values down your throat. But I would feel happier if I felt that you weren't having anyone around when I was gone, or when I am here either, for that matter, unless you clear it with me in advance.”
“Understood and agreed,” he said.
By this time, I felt it was time to change the subject, so luckily, Countryfile, one of our shared programmes of interest was just about to start, so I had a good reason to turn the TV on. But his reassuring smile made me feel that he didn't resent my impudent questioning.