Fit For A Prince
Margaret Skipworth’s lively complete story sees the arrival of a new family member.
An uplifting story by Margaret Skipworth
WHAT do you think?” Doreen did a twirl as she entered the room. Bill folded the newspaper he’d been reading and placed it on the coffee table, stalling for time. Whenever Doreen asked his opinion about her appearance he always managed to say the wrong thing and put his foot in it. If there was one thing he’d learned during 35 years of marriage it was when to keep his mouth shut.
The dress Doreen was wearing was one of Bill’s favourites. It was salmon pink, the same colour she’d worn on their first date when they were both eighteen. He remembered feeling proud that he was taking the prettiest girl in the neighbourhood to the pictures.
Of course, Doreen hadn’t worn a dress that evening. She’d sported bell-bottomed trousers and a cowl neck sweater.
Bill chuckled. Seventies’ fashions had been so outrageous! He’d thought he looked the bee’s knees in his platform shoes and wide-collared floral shirt. And had he really had a gold medallion hanging round his neck?
“What are you smiling at?” Doreen asked, dragging Bill’s mind back to the present. Without waiting for a reply she shook her head. “This dress is a bit over the top, isn’t it?” She headed back to the bedroom. Pleased to have been let off the hook, Bill let out a deep sigh. Doreen would be back in a jiffy, he knew, wearing a different outfit.
When she returned Bill could tell from her expression that she was pleased with her choice – a turquoise blouse and navy trousers.
“You look beautiful, love,” Bill remarked, thinking how the colour of the blouse matched her eyes which were shimmering with excitement and happiness. “Of course,” he went on, grinning mischievously, “William won’t care what you’re wearing. As long as he’s well fed.” Doreen rolled her eyes. “Typical male, then,” she retorted. “Talking of food, I’d better make a start on dinner. Laura and William will be here soon.” “Can I help?” “No, everything’s under control. Although you could choose some wine to go with the fish.” Looking Bill up and down, she frowned. “Surely you’re going to smarten yourself up before they arrive? That’s your old gardening jumper.”
“But I always wear this jumper round the house,” Bill murmured defensively. “It’s comfy and warm.”
He couldn’t blame Doreen for fussing and for wanting everything to be perfect, Bill thought, as he pulled the bottle of expensive wine from the wine rack. After all, it wasn’t every day you got to meet your first grandchild.
It was hard to believe that William was already a month old and they hadn’t seen him yet. That had been his fault, Bill reminded himself, a wave of guilt sweep through him.
Their daughter, Laura, and her husband, Peter, had asked them to stay with them for a week or so after William was born. But a few days before William arrived Bill had been taken ill with flu. Doreen wouldn’t leave him while he was so poorly, nor did she want to make the 100-mile trip to Laura’s house on her own.
“Besides, I don’t want to risk passing any germs on to William,” she’d said very firmly.
So Peter’s mother had stepped in at the last minute to help the new parents. Bill knew that had been for the best, but he couldn’t help feeling disappointed, for Doreen’s sake, that she’d missed those precious first days with her grandson.
Now, Laura and William were coming to visit for a few days. Bill had splashed out on a good wine to toast William’s safe arrival but he drew the line at getting dressed up in his own house!
It was a very special day, but was all this fuss about dressing up really necessary?
HE was setting the table in the dining-room when Doreen answered the door to their daughter and grandson. Bill heard them go into the lounge and then there were lots of oohs and aahs. He stopped himself from dashing into the lounge. This was a special moment for Doreen and he wasn’t going to spoil it for her.
“Come and look at William,” Doreen called eventually.
As soon as Bill stepped into the lounge Laura enveloped him in a hug. Then he crossed the room to the sofa where Doreen held William in her arms.
“Look at him, Bill, isn’t he gorgeous?” she said, her face wreathed in smiles. “He’s a little prince!”
Bill felt a lump in his throat as William gazed up at him with bright blue eyes. He grinned. William definitely had his ears and Doreen’s nose and . . .
“You hold him, Bill, while I go and check on the dinner,” Doreen interrupted his thoughts.
“Yes, come on, Dad, your turn,” Laura said chirpily. “You and William can get to know each other while I help Mum in the kitchen.”
Bill’s eyes misted over as he reached out his hand and stroked William’s cheek. It was a long time since he’d held a month-old baby. He’d forgotten how fragile they were and what fine skin they had. Far too delicate to be scratched by the wool of an old jumper, he thought suddenly. “I’ll go and change first,” he said. Doreen glanced at Laura, a stunned expression on her face. Laura giggled. “Dressing for dinner? That must be a first for you, Dad.”
Ignoring Laura’s comment, Bill mentally scanned his wardrobe. Did he have anything suitable?
An idea struck him. There was that olive green shirt that Doreen had bought him last Christmas. He wasn’t keen on the colour, so he’d always made an excuse not to wear it. But, he seemed to remember it was a silky material.
Yes, that would be nice and soft for a baby to rest his head against.
Mind you, babies could be messy, Bill thought with a wry smile. If William ruined his new shirt, well, he was prepared to make some sacrifices for his namesake!
“So, Dad, what are you going to put on instead of that old jumper?” Laura persisted.
“Something that’s fit for a prince,” he said, winking at his grandson.