Where I Wrote . . . .

Posted on 26th February, 2021

Last year I ran an occasional series called Where I Wrote . . . which was about various places in Llandudno where I produced certain scenes from my books. One location I was dying to share with you had to wait until now, because I had to wait for The Surplus Girls' Orphans to be published.


The scene in question appears quite early on in the story and in it Mary, the heroine, is in the sweet shop where she works. I had a ball describing Mr Upton's shop and all the lovely goodies stocked on the shelves. I didn't want to mention the same type of sweet twice and I will admit that I ended up making up a couple of my own. I shan't tell you what they were - I wonder if those of you who read the book will spot them. All I will say is that they sound delicious!


This scene was written in a favourite place of mine - a little bay on the other side of the pier from North Shore. This little bay is just below Happy Valley.


Now it's time for the photos. This first one shows the little bay with the tide right in. In the bottom-left corner, you can see the steps leading down to it from the road.



And here it is when the tide is out a little way:



* * * *


And here is what I wrote. Molly has been collecting money in the shop to buy sweets for the children in the local orphanage, but one of the collecting boxes has been stolen. . . .


Well, I did tell you to stop collecting money this morning,’ said Mr Upton, as if Molly should have foreseen the theft. His I-told-you-so air was hard to take, but she swallowed it. What else was she to do? You didn’t answer back to your boss. She felt like answering back, though. No, she didn’t. She was too sick at heart. She had looked forward to giving the orphans a treat and now half the money had disappeared – no, not half. It was the other children’s box that had been taken. The dancers’ box was still here, containing more money even though it was for considerably fewer children.

    ‘Perhaps we could use the dancers’ money for all the children...’ she dared to suggest, but Mr Upton was having none of it.

    ‘That’s for the dancers. I said all along we should be collecting only for them.’

    We? What had he done to help? He hadn’t asked a single customer for a donation, though he had been happy to take the glory when anyone praised the idea.

    ‘Excuse me a minute.’

    She went into the back and took her purse from her handbag. She didn’t have much on her, but it was a start. Back behind the counter, she examined the contents of the farthing and ha’penny trays.

Mr Upton glanced up from behind a display he was constructing of chocolate boxes and Walnut Whips. ‘Do the trays need topping up, Miss Watson?’

    ‘No.’ Molly slid her money onto the counter, eyeing it in the hope that it was somehow more than it had been inside her purse. ‘If I buy dolly mixtures, I wonder how many each child would get.’

    ‘If they get just one each, it would be one more than they have any right to expect.’

    Inside Molly something deflated, but only for a moment. She looked Mr Upton straight in the eye. ‘Will you let me have an advance on my week’s wages? I want to treat the children. Half a crown should do it.’

    ‘Two and sixpence!’ Mr Upton froze. A Walnut Whip fell from his lifeless fingers. ‘My dear Miss Watson, you forget yourself. What would Mr Hartley say if I let you fritter your hard-earned money in such a manner?’

    ‘This is nothing to do with Norris.’

    ‘Of course it is. He’s your fiancé and you know how careful he is with his money.’ As if this settled the matter, he ducked his head behind the display once more.

    ‘Exactly: with his money. This isn’t his, it’s mine.’

    ‘Actually,’ Mr Upton corrected her, his face bobbing up briefly, ‘it’s mine at present.’

    ‘Which I am in the process of earning.’ Oops: that sounded tart. She switched on a smile, injecting all the warmth she could into her voice since Mr Upton was concentrating on his display again. ‘I want to do the right thing. I’m concerned about letting Upton’s down, as well as the children.’

    ‘Upton’s?’ Mr Upton popped up like a jack-in-the-box.

    ‘Now that the collecting has gone wrong, I feel responsible. Please let me put it right.’

    It was the right thing to say. Mr Upton gave her half a crown, which she spent on boot laces, which she cut into quarters, and midget gems. It looked like a decent haul if you didn’t think closely about the hundred and twenty children for whom it was destined. Meanwhile Mr Upton, having finished his display, prepared the sweets for the dancers, each of whom was going to receive a paper bag of goodies from the ha’penny and penny trays, lucky beggars.


* * * *


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The Surplus Girls' Orphans

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