Chapter Seventeen


Following Mitch’s funeral Harriet decided to take stock of life. Although Harriet had brought most of her research books with her, she was conscious that she hadn’t really looked at any of them, and they had been left in a box on the floor under the bed. She decided that it was time to start looking at them again, and getting her ideas back into some sort of order.
Harriet placed her sketch pad on the bed and reached underneath to drag the box of books out. Looking at the book splines she felt like she was another person in a different life. So much had changed and moved on since she was last looking at them. She pulled out ‘The Fine Art Of Cabinet Making – by James Krenov’ and began to flick though it. With a sigh Harriet put the book back down and felt despondent. The furniture in the book was lovely, incredibly well made, and completely beyond her abilities. She couldn’t even put it down to not having the workshop facilities, she just felt like it was so outside of her abilities that, well, what was the point?

Pick yourself up! She scolded herself. Right, first principles, what do I need?
With her sketch pad to hand Harriet started making notes about what she would need to have to move out, things she should be able to make, against things she would just buy as needed.

The first thing on her list was bedroom furniture. She had been proud of the bed she had made that was now in Sarah’s storage unit, no mattress though so will need to buy one. They decided to leave the mattress behind as it was too intimately connected to Marie. The bed wasn’t a great piece of furniture, but she had made it long before she really knew what she was doing. One of the things Harriet noted about her bedroom at Adam and Amanda’s house was that the bed felt small. It had been their old bed moved into the guest room when they bought a big antique four poster. Harriet measured it, it was a standard double, four feet six inches wide. Harriet’s own bed was a super king size, six feet by six feet six inches. She loved that how ever she lay in it she couldn’t reach the opposite edges at the same time and that made it feel endless.

Having moved it into Marie’s, and now back out again it might be a good time to make the bedside tables to go with it, and then maybe a dining table too. Not chairs though, those take time, and space and, on the whole, could be bought and then replaced another time if the mood took her. A book case, or shelves was another thing, but they would depend on where she was, there might be shelves already, or it might be easier to just put up shelf brackets on the wall.

Harriet began to rough out the sketches and dimensions for her bedside tables. Height of the bed base, allow for a reasonable mattress thickness, plus a bit to keep the proportions looking right, what materials would be needed, joints to be used, assembly processes…
It all needed to be accounted for so that the design could progress to aesthetics. Harriet wasn’t overly concerned about the style, simple would do, plain even, much like the bed. She pondered this line of thought. It dawned on her that, despite leaving, Marie was still having an influence. Plain furniture because it wouldn’t be like the more intricate and fancy ones Marie had. Plain because Marie had wanted her to be dressing in fancy clothes, heeled shoes, and make up. Plain so no one would notice her. Plain because she, Harriet, was now plain.

Harriet wasn’t sure if she should get upset about the plainness she had now taken on in an attempt to wash Marie out of herself, or if she should rebel against it and become flashy and proud in her own right, or to just own the plainness as her real self, or at least her self at this moment in time.
Plain took less effort though, and for making in a borrowed garage workshop space for a couple or so months it also took less time and was less precious and delicate. It would also be cheaper, Harriet thought, as she remember that her bank account hadn’t seen any income since the month before she left Marie, and that all her living expenses, food, board, and lodgings all fell upon Adam and Amanda. A flush of guilt crossed her very being and upset her for a moment.
Harriet took a deep breath and faced reality. She was a burden, but one she couldn’t change at the moment. But when she could she would make it up to Adam and Amanda, and all her real friends. She made that promise, to herself, to the world around her, and vowed to never take those friendships for granted.
She also wondered if she should get a job.

Harriet went down to the kitchen to make a cup of tea while she pondered. Amanda was already there so it seemed an ideal time to air her thoughts.
“Amanda?” Harriet asked, “I was wondering… thinking… I think perhaps I should get a job. Any thoughts? Not café work though.”

“Hello! I didn’t see you there. Cuppa?”

“Ooh, yes please, I was just coming down to make one.”

“Ha! Beat you to it!
Well, if you want to get a job, that’s ok, it will help your confidence. But, yeah, not café work so I’ll make this brew. How about retail in general though?” Amanda suggested “There is always a need for extra shop staff at this time of year, only temporary, mind, but it would get you doing something if you feel like you need it. There’s bound to be something going at the Ultimo, even if not in the mall itself there’s all the shops around the car park, and general support staff are always required, in those horrible green uniforms.”

“Nah, not the green uniforms, I’m not that desperate for the work, yet! They all look like elves enough as it is without it coming up to Christmas!
One thing that that does bother me a little about that though, and I know it is silly, but, ummm, it’s if Marie sees me working somewhere, I want to be doing something better then I was. Yeah, that’s silly, I know.”

“I can understand that. But what are the chances? Does she shop there often?”

“She does, often, I think she prefers it to local shopping because she is not with ‘local people’. But, hmmm, she doesn’t shop at any DIY sheds as far as I know…”

“There’s your answer then.” Amanda said. There’s two to choose from, and a few builders yards, though I’m not sure they do Christmas seasonal stuff in the same way.”


Daisy only worked a four day week. Her week day off was based on some unfathomable rota system that seemed to work most of the time but was also so flexible in order to allow for staff to chop and change as needed, as to be almost a pointless exercise. This week her day off was a Friday so she had a long weekend. She decided to spend it sitting in the Theraton Library, reading the many local history books, comparing the written records of the town to the many search results found online. She quickly found that research using paper books was not only easier by having lots of books open on a table compared to lots of tabs open on a screen, but there was more likelihood of it being accurate. Daisy kept a record of her research on her notebook computer, typing in the facts and dates, and noting where she believed, but couldn’t prove, online facts might have been altered to favour one local business concern, or another, or to strengthen some legal claim in a dispute. For a record of things that should definitely have happened in the past, it all seemed very woolly in places!
But that was the point, Daisy was learning how to research and, more importantly, how to be critical of what she had discovered, checking and cross referencing to make sure she wasn’t being mislead.

Daisy started writing out her notes…

Theraton has two railway stations because two different railway companies wanted to be the one providing access to and from the markets. The Great North Rail Company got in first and opened Market Theraton Station in 1855. The name itself told people that it was a market town, and as their route was north south, covering many of the major towns and cities along the east side of the country, there was lots of trade and the railway was very popular.

Theraton Road Station was opened in 1857 by the Northern Hills Railway Consortium who, unlike the The Great North Rail Company, were not in the business of running railways. They were, instead, a group of business men looking to make a quick profit by building an east west railway across the country to access the markets in Theraton. They had not banked on there being less profit in the trade in the east west direction compared to the north south route and very quickly investors withdrew their support in favour of the competition.
(Find out why there was less trade east west.)

House builders, looking to take advantage of the railways, also invested heavily into buying land to build grand Victorian houses. Those that bought the cheaper hilly land, near to Market Theraton Station, to build on attracted wealthier residents who would be able to travel to other big cities, and the capital, on the new railway line. Unfortunately the houses built on the more expensive flatter and productive agricultural land near Theraton Road Station soon found that there were few wealthy families who had anything to gain from an east west commute.
(Again, find out why.)

This resulted in many of the large houses near Theraton Road Station being bought by landlords and rented out as rooms for local workers, further reducing the desirability of the area to potential wealthy residents. Theraton Road Station nearly disappeared completely when two events coincided. Firstly, the Great North Rail Company bought out the bankrupt Northern Hills Railway Consortium and, secondly, a large area just south of what is now Lower Theraton was used as a landfill site to dispose of the mountains of waste the growing market town was producing. Few people of any wealth chose to live near the landfill site and it became an area where itinerant workers and the poor lived in appalling conditions during market days.

Few railway travellers found a need to disembark at Theraton Road Station at all, and in time the station was only used for goods traffic and the occasional movement of seasonal workers. The station was finally closed to passenger traffic shortly before the Great War, and remained as such until the late 1950s, despite a gradual increase in house building during the early twentieth century.
(Find out what happened in the 1950s.)

It was these odd bits of information that Daisy had no idea of before, but found fascinating now she was finding it out. It was the sort of enthusiasm for learning that she had not experienced when she was at school and was now wondering how much she must have missed back then.

Still, she thought, no time like the present to catch up, and the railways are a mine of information!

(Chapter 16 here)
(Chapter 18 here)

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