Sandra has been feeling closer to Barry as they have enjoyed their little interludes together – even if it means a quick one when they have both managed to snatch half a day off work, or Barry has snuck into Sandra’s for a quick beer and crisps after her kids have gone to bed. In fact, she thinks about him a lot and suspects she has started to feel the ‘l’ word.
The trouble is that Barry is starting to feel a bit trapped, as Sandra is always texting and calling him to find out when they can next get together. He likes her, but this is starting to feel like the ‘r’ word – something that scares the bejesus out of him, ever since his marriage broke up three years ago, after he found his wife in bed with his next door neighbour. He’s not going down that road again and letting anyone close enough to leave him open to that kind of trauma.
Benedict has similar commitment issues after his ex-wife ran off with the gardener when they were living in his family’s oversized country pile in the prequel to this movie. (Critics panned it when it came out for being ‘too Lady Chatterley’). So he is wondering if he has been spending too much time with Rosetta.
Sandra texts Barry to ask what he’s doing on Saturday, as her kids are staying with the ex and she’d like some quality time with her favourite man. “DVD and a takeaway, if you don’t feel like going to the Sheep’s Leg” she suggests.
But this is the final shove for Barry, as the bleep of his phone interrupts his thoughts. He decides not to respond – his usual way of avoiding a difficult conversation. Sandra gets agitated and as she sits behind her work computer she can’t think about anything else. She pretends to read a report, but is really gazing at her phone, willing it to bleep. When it does she almost jumps out of her chair, before seeing it’s a company asking if she’s had an accident and wants to claim compensation. ““No, but I know someone who bloody-well will soon,” she whispers.
Script writers have made Benedict a bit more open and honest and he phones Rosetta, asking to meet in a quiet café. “I am sorry, darling,” he says, “This is really hard for me to say, but I have to say it. Everything has been happening so fast between us that it has turned me a little dizzy. I need to climb off the carousel and take in some air.”
Rosetta’s perfectly smooth forehead furrows ever so slightly. “What are you trying to say, darling?”
“Sweetheart, you are lovely, gentle and beautiful, but I need to take some time out, to decide what I want. I told you what happened with Cordelia – I need to be sure before I open my heart to anyone else.” Sad-sounding violins and pianos play in the background as Rosetta’s China blue eyes well up with tears.
“You are casting me aside?” She sobs.
“Not quite, darling. You are not an old sweater. This may not be the end. I just need some time out, a break to find myself.”
It is four hours since Sandra sent her text. She is now chewing gum in a fit of frustration to stop herself from eating the entire contents of the office’s biscuit barrel. As five o’clock strikes, she rushes out of work not wanting to talk to anyone and heads for her train. As she sits wedged between two suited men who won’t budge in either direction, she gives in and sends Barry another text, trying to adopt a cheerful, not-in-the-slightest-bit-exasperated tone. “Or we could still just go to the Sheep’s Leg, if you’d prefer that.” She then spends the rest of the evening going from one task to looking at the phone, almost like a religious ritual. Even bathing the kids is punctuated with glances at it, which leaves the screen blurred with condensation.
She goes to bed with the phone on the pillow next to her, just in case Barry feels the need to respond to her at 4am.
On the commuter train again, she cannot bare the waiting. “Barry, are you ok? Starting to worry now.” Still no response. Still no response by lunchtime and Sandra, by now, is on the edge. Then at 3.30pm he texts: “Sorry – can’t do this any more. Don’t want a relationship.”
Sandra re-reads the message three or four times to take it in, even though it’s only ten words. She then runs off to the toilet, locks herself in a cubicle and cries as quietly as she can.
Meanwhile Rosetta is sobbing into her silky dusty pink duvet in her spacious pastel bedroom as piano music plays in the background.
So, readers, is this the end for our foursome? Maybe I’ll return to them at some point to see what happens next…
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