Philip’s life continues to change and adjust.
Just a little reminder that as from next Monday, December 2nd, the remaining nine chapters will be posted here on Learning from Dogs at the rate of three per week: Monday; Wednesday and Friday. On those same days, I will also be posting my regular style post.
Learning from Dogs
Jeremy Stanton’s forecast had been accurate. At eleven-thirty on that Tuesday morning, he called Philip.
“Philip, it’s Jeremy from Fulfords. Mrs Fuller has signed an agreement to purchase Tristford Barn, subject to survey, for the sum of five-hundred-and-fifty thousand pounds, with vacant possession in effect from Tuesday, 1st May, 2007.”
“Wow, I better get my skates on! Jeremy, do you know how long it will be before Mrs Fuller has the barn surveyed?”
“Not been arranged yet, but because of the shortness of the time before the exchange of contracts will need to take place, hopefully within the next seven days. I will obviously confirm that with you. Unless you and Mrs Fuller were to agree a shorter contract period, the exchange of contracts would be expected thirty days before close, the 2nd April in this case.”
“Thanks Jeremy. I’ll look forward to hearing from you with regard to the survey date.”
With that Philip and Jeremy ended the call. He turned to Pharaoh and exclaimed, “Wow, my furry friend, now things are really going to change.”
His next call was to Liz Jones over at Diptford. He quickly brought her up to speed about what had just happened.
Liz then asked, “So, Philip, when are you looking for accommodation?”
“From Tuesday, 1st May to be blunt about it. How does that work for you? Or rather how does that tie in with your existing tenant?”
“Philip, after our last call I did speak to Mary, that’s her name, and she is likely to give notice on or around May 1st, vacating towards the end of the month. Is there any way you can find temporary accommodation for the month of May?”
“Not sure, to be honest, Liz. But can’t imagine I can’t work something out. In fact I was thinking of going to California around that time. Leave it with me. But, Liz, can I confirm with you that as soon as Mary vacates I will be able take over the tenancy? Happy to pay a deposit straight away, of course.”
“Philip, come on now, you don’t need to put a deposit down, for heavens sake! As far as I’m concerned as soon as Mary vacates it’s yours.”
“Oh, just had a thought, Philip.”
“What’s that, Liz?”
“I have a decent size barn that is empty and weather-proof. Would it help for you to store your house contents there until your future plans become clearer?”
“Oh, Liz, you are an absolute sweetheart. That would take a huge burden off my shoulders.”
Philip and Liz finished the call agreeing that she would double-check Mary’s plans and him saying that he would arrange things for May and go forward on the basis that the rooms wouldn’t be free until the week commencing the twenty-eighth of May.
It was time to take Pharaoh for a walk and soon they were parking up at James’ woods and enjoying the afternoon air. It gave him an opportunity to think things through; so much had happened in the last few days.
First up would be to work out finding somewhere for him and Pharaoh to stay during the month of May. What came to his mind almost immediately was calling Danny and seeing if his invite to ‘get his arse out to California’ would extend to him coming out in May. If he could get his belongings sorted and over to Liz’s barn in late April, then perhaps spend a few days with Diana and John in early May, and then fly out to California more or less returning to England at the end of the month. It seemed like a plan.
After their time in the woods, he decided to pop in on the way back and see sister, Diana. Both she and John were at home, as they so often were, and Philip gave them the news of the sale of Tristford Barn, then outlined his thoughts about the month of May. As he anticipated, there wasn’t a problem. Far from it, because John had long ago admitted that he enjoyed having Philip’s company.
Then back home to the barn, with a quick call to Sandra Chambers at the kennels establishing, as Philip anticipated, that there would be a kennel for Pharaoh in May.
He went to the fridge and opened himself a beer before coming back and picking up the phone again. Time to call Danny.
“Hey Danny, it’s Philip”
“How are you man, how’s it going?”
“Listen Danny, you remember telling me to get my arse out to California. Well you know I always hang on to your every word, so how about me coming out around the 8th May for a couple of weeks or so?”
“Hey that’s cool, no problem at all, we would love to see you out here. Will you want to go and see Lisa and Don up in Los Osos?”
“Yes, that would be wonderful. Haven’t seen your sister for a while now.”
“OK, Philip, I’ll call her, but can’t imagine it will be a problem. Want to use one of my cars?”
“Danny, is the Pope Catholic! That would be fabulous. OK, I’ll look into flights and give you a call before I go firm on them. You sure it will be OK with Georgie? Don’t want to cause your dear wife any issues?”
“Hey, Georgie loves having you stay with us. And she’s been so worried about you these last few weeks. Trust me, no problem. Give us a call with those flight details.”
Thus it was that a week later Philip was back on the phone to Danny and within thirty minutes of finishing the call with him, he had booked tickets for the flight out to Los Angeles for the morning of the 8th May, with him returning back to London on May 27th.
This all set in motion an incredibly hectic few weeks. Essentially, in a little over a month all the contents of Tristford Barn had to be packed up and taken over to Liz’s barn at Diptford. There was another aspect as well. One that he wasn’t looking forward to. That is that he had no choice other than to speak with Maggie and have her come over and remove many of her personal belongings that were still in the barn. A couple of evenings later, he called Maggie’s parents home.
Her father, David, answered and, much to Philip’s surprise, Maggie was over at her parents house. She came on to the phone.
“Maggie, it’s Philip. Won’t take any of your time but need to let you know that Tristford Barn has been sold and it has to be emptied and vacated by the end of April.”
“Yes, I had a call from my solicitor to say that the house was close to being sold. When do you want me to come across?”
They swapped a few dates around and agreed for Maggie and her father to come over on the 14th April, a Saturday. That would suit him as much of his stuff would have been taken over to Liz’s barn by then.
After he had put the phone down, he wondered just what his emotions would be when Maggie came across. Plus he was unsure whether her coming over with her father was helpful or not. There was not long to wait to find out.
Saturday, the 14th dawned clear and bright, thank goodness. Philip took Pharaoh for an early walk around the village and had been back in the house for about thirty minutes when he saw David’s car arrive and Maggie get out of the car to open the gate. He wasn’t sure what to expect but the one thing that he didn’t expect was to see someone he was married to for over six-and-a-half years come across not only as a person utterly remote to him but almost practically a stranger. He noticed that Pharaoh was unusually quiet as well, as if he was picking up on Philip’s feelings.
Those feelings persisted as he went down to the front door and let David and Maggie in.
After offering them both a hot drink, Philip said to Maggie, “You’ll find in each of the rooms that I have put your stuff more or less together. Of course, if you think there’s something not there then shout out. I’ll be sitting up here in the living room so come and see me if you want to open any drawers or cupboards.”
Maggie nodded in a reflective manner, her father seemed to want to stay away from any emotional aspect of this visit to Tristford Barn.
Thus over the next hour or so, David and Maggie were back and forth between the house and David’s car. It came to the point where it looked as though they had finished removing Maggie’s belongings.
David came up the stairs to where Philip was sitting, Pharaoh curled up next to him.
“Philip, we’re all packed up so soon be out of your hair. Thank you and, how can I put this, I’m really sorry as to what happened. I shall miss your company.”
Philip hadn’t expected that. “David, thank you and I feel the same way. We saw eye-to-eye on many things. You and Gwen welcomed me into the family despite the age difference between me and Maggie and that’s something that will be treasured in the future. Give Gwen a hug from me and tell her I’m already missing her home-made cakes.”
He and David hugged. Pharaoh had come up to them and David stroked Pharaoh’s head. Then went down the stairs, let himself out of the front door and within minutes he and Maggie had driven out of the cul-de-sac disappeared from sight.
As Philip continued looking out from the front window, Pharaoh came and sat on his haunches next to him. Once again, this furry, loveable creature had picked up on his feelings and sensed Philip’s need for the closeness of Pharaoh.
What was he feeling? It wasn’t clear but it did have something of the feel of a termination. Or was it more like rejection? He wasn’t sure but it did bring uppermost to his mind that he should speak with Jonathan and try and get a session with him arranged fairly soon after he returned from his trip California which, with a start, he realised was coming up in just over two-weeks time.
On the Monday, Philip was able to have a quick conversation with Jonathan and agreed that his first session with him, in his counselling capacity, would be Friday, 1st June, just a few days after his flight back from LA, hopefully with the worst of the jet-lag behind him.
Thus Philip’s new life was taking shape. His sister, Diana, and John, were happy for him and Pharaoh to stay with them as soon as he had to vacate Tristford Barn; most probably on the last weekend in April. Liz, bless her, had offered storage space for all his furniture and belongings. Then within a week, he would be going up to London in order to catch the flight out to Los Angeles on May 8th.
1,883 words. Copyright © 2013 Paul Handover