30th June 1951
I have fallen out with Betty. I can’t quite believe it but we are no longer friends!
It all began last week when she spotted Frank and me as we returned from one of our walks. Betty knows Frank of course from the old days, and she knew he was back in town, but I hadn’t told her about how close we’ve become since his return.
I probably should have said something, Betty being my best friend and all, but I just didn’t want to share it. It’s hard to explain; I wanted to keep our new friendship just to myself. If I didn’t tell anyone, it’s as if my normal life couldn’t interfere, and our meetings would be set apart from the real world. Besides I knew Betty would get the wrong idea. She knew how crazy I was about him, but this is different, it’s quite innocent!
I suppose matters weren’t helped by the fact I was holding Frank’s hand at the time, but I’d worn the wrong shoes again and my feet hurt, so Frank was helping me to walk back.
Betty’s face was a picture, I could see all the different thoughts crossing her mind; shock, suspicion and hurt, this last one directed just at me for not cluing her in. We must have looked pretty surprised too, but I thought fast and I said, ‘Oh hello Betty, you’ve just caught Frank and I on our way back into town, and I’ve hurt my foot’. She gawped at me and then at my feet and then at my hand still clasped in his, which I quickly dropped.
‘How are you Betty?’ say’s Frank, ‘I’ve not had a chance to speak to you since I’ve got back, still working at the Regent?’ Betty just ignored him and stared at me. I’ve never seen her like that; she was full of disbelief and righteousness at the same time. (Being shorter than me it can’t have been easy for her to look up and still seem to be looking down on me.)
Then she simply turned around and walked off faster than I’ve ever seen her move in my life. Frank and I looked at each other and then he began to laugh. ‘What’s so funny?’ I asked. He just said he thought it was humorous, and then I began to laugh too. But later on at home I started to feel awful. I felt so bad about not telling Betty but worse still, what if she told someone else! They’d never understand, and it’d be gossiped everywhere. I couldn’t stand it.
So I took myself off to the Regent that evening and waited for the queues to disappear and the film to start so I could talk to Betty alone. I’ve always liked the Regent, it’s so plush and the foyer is big and grand. I looked around me while I waited and remembered how it was when I used to work there, back before I married George.
Betty was busy sorting out some change behind the counter when she looked up and saw me. ‘I don’t want to hear it’ she said before I could even speak. ‘Hear what?’ I said, ‘there’s nothing to hear’. I then went on explain about how Frank was just a good friend and of course we were keeping our meetings quiet because we knew people would react just as she had.
‘If he’s just a good friend, then I’m Doris Day! Are you really stupid enough to think that this little “friendship” isn’t about something much bigger? If it hasn’t already happened it will soon. And you’re a married woman for goodness sake!’
I was so shocked I just stood there with my mouth open. Betty’s never been so outspoken. It’s usually me with something to say. Where had this side of her come from? I told her she didn’t understand and she never would because she hasn’t ever had a mature relationship. I pointed out there was more to being friends with someone of the opposite sex than resorting to our base attractions. Well she looked fit to slap me then and said I didn’t realise how lucky I was and I was jeopardising my happiness.
I haven’t seen her since then, until today. I spotted her walking down the street towards me. It looked like she might walk right past me but I stopped her and basically pleaded with her to listen to me.
But she wouldn’t, she became very stern and said ‘Look, you’re being such a fool! I’ve watched you for these past years lording it up with your new clothes, and your fancy jewellery and never once have you ever uttered a word of thanks to George for giving you this life. It makes me so mad to see you playing with fire, and all for what? You’re no better than me you know! We both grew up in the same place while our parents scraped a living have you forgotten that? And what would your mam say?
I still love you, but Frank is bad news, he always was and always will be and until you realise that I can’t talk to you.’
So that’s that. She walked off and I was left standing there in the middle of the pavement. My best friend’s gone. My only friend if I’m honest.
Posted by Gemma Parker at 06:42