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People Call Me Trixie

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December 1960

Rosemary McConlough didn't give birth to her twins that Sunday, but by the time the Quality Street tin was empty, she was the proud mother of one of each. Not only that, but when Christmas morning would finally arrive, her aunty Iris would wake up to more than a stocking at the end of her bed. Iris had been given, when it came to unexpected Christmas presents, the most precious of all.

Trixie was back at All Saints' Church. This time there wasn't a service in progress that she dreaded interrupting. All Saints' was preparing for its screen debut. Trixie would rather be in charge of the ulcer clinic, than be at Poplar parish church that afternoon. She had never been able to say no to Sister Bernadette, even in a skirt suit and heels. She also had only ever said no to Tom, on one occasion.

As the church got ready for its premier, Trixie had been put in charge of flower arranging, thanks to Constance Spry and a generous godmother. Iris Willens in her role as the church caretaker had done most of the work prior to going into labour. All Trixie needed to complete were a few titivations.

She was attending to the foliage around the church pillars, when she became aware of an all too familiar scent. All too familiar because she had purchased it from Fenwicks herself, not so long ago.

Tom had meant to be kind and was unaware of how close he had stood behind her. The sensation of his breath on her neck had unnerved her, as he tried to make awkward small talk.

Trixie found a quiet spot at the back of the church, sat behind a large square pillar. She could really do with a cigarette right now. To tell the truth, which she knew she owed it to herself to do, she could really do with a drink right now.

Against the commotion of the BBC dress rehearsal, Trixie didn't hear anyone else come in. He was sat beside her before she realized.

"Is this where the naughty children sit?"

"This pew is reserved for sinners only, Dr Turner."

"Well, this hassock looks to have my name on it,” he answered shifting the kneeling cushion out of the way.

Trixie giggled a little to loudly for someone wanting to go unnoticed and Patrick playfully shushed her.

"How is it all going?" He asked surveying the organised chaos in front of him.

"Well it's a good job you are here, Doctor. Cecil B De Milne is about to have a stroke, if he doesn't calm down." They both looked over to where the BBC's red faced Barrington Swann was managing to ruffle everyone else's feathers.

"Who is really in charge?" Patrick asked the question, he already knew the answer too.

Trixie raised her eyebrows, rolled her eyes and pursed her lips. Patrick knew she was too polite to say, so he answered his own question,

"Don't tell me...Field Marshall Turner, she was born for days like these."

Trixie was holding on to the pew, shaking with laughter now.

"Ably assisted by Gunner Gilbert, second in command," she just managed to spray out, before she could no longer speak for laughing.

"What of the company padre?"

"Oh he definitely would like to go AWOL" Trixie replied, sobering up a little, her attention turning to Tom.

Tom stood exactly where she had seen him on her last visit; in the pulpit. He was helping lighting and camera set up for his shots, ready for when he would record his very succinct and cheerful Christmas message for the waiting British public, to ponder on Christmas Day.

He again looked alone and isolated as he had when Trixie had seen him last. His ministry wasn't sermonising and pontificating. It was helping, listening, and healing; he belonged with his congregation, not above it and it didn't matter if it was in the East End or on Tyneside. Trixie knew that now.

They had both stopped laughing, Patrick played with his hat. Trixie held her hands together in her lap, to try and quell the irritating sensation they had recently acquired to be busy. She felt for the ring on her left hand, but it was no longer there.

"Is all well with you,Trixie? I am still your GP. You would tell me if you needed... anything, a referral even...to someone...somewhere else?"

Trixie stiffened. How could he know? Did everyone know? Had Sister Julienne spoke to him about her? Or maybe to Shelagh, they were still close. now even after everything. Had he maybe just been watching her?

"I am fine, Doctor." She paused and took a deep breath, "No, I am not fine really, but I think I may have found a way."

She took another deliberate intake of air. Only Sisters Mary Cynthia and Julienne knew of her recently arranged Tuesday night obligation.

"I have ...joined a group, made some new friends, in a similar situation...like minded people."

"That's good, that's very good,” he looked relieved.

"I am thinking of taking up keep-fit in the new year," she smiled. "It's supposed to be very good for the body and the mind and who knows maybe even the soul. I probably won't be very good at it."

"I am sure whatever you choose to do, you will be very good at it, Trixie."

"That's not true! I am not a very good friend or even a very good person."

Patrick recoiled at this, but didn't interject.

"I let you down and Timothy and most of all Marianne,” her early tears of laughter had turned to tears that stung.

Patrick offered her his handkerchief, she pushed it away.

"I haven't returned the last one you gave me," she sobbed.

"Marianne told me, you had thrown it away."

"No! I washed it!" She responded, wounded by this innocent accusation. "I keep it as a spare at the bottom of midwifery bag, for my patients."

Patrick smiled, it was like her.

"It's also ideal for removing trifle from your shoe."

Patrick looked confused and raised an eyebrow. He knew the nurses had to clean a lot of things from their shoes, as did he. However, he couldn't help feeling he had missed something.

They again sat looking directly ahead, absentmindedly watching Tom's increasing discomfort. Patrick's son sat at the piano, face interchanging between boredom and amusement, in the way only a young teens can. Marianne's rather peculiar boy was turning into a rather remarkable young man.

It was Patrick who spoke first, "This is a strange place for me. It has witnessed two of the happiest days of my life and also the saddest. Timothy and Angela were also christened here. When I sit here I feel both passion and sorrow."

Trixie nodded, she had a similar relationship with the imposing building, she suddenly remembered singing with Patrick at Alec's funeral. Jenny had started again, found a way to deal with loss and found hope and new love. Maybe it wasn't too late for Trixie, she looked over at Violet Buckle organising the layette raffle draw. Fred's wife glowed with happiness, maybe it was never too late. Iris Willans was testament to that.

Patrick suddenly continued, "It is like when I see Sister Evangelina. I remember her bringing my son into the world, but also guiding his mother out of it."

He paused taking his time, Trixie heard his breathing pattern deepen. He then added,

"Even Shelagh, most of the time I look at her and see only love and a kind of peace, but occasionally when I hear Tim call her mum..for just a brief moment, there is only confusion and pain, just a brief moment."

Trixie heard Patrick take hold of a breath and let it escape slowly from between his lips.

"When I look at Tim, I only see Marianne. It seems more and more each day, but it's now less with regret and more with pride."

They were both still staring out at the mayhem ensuing in front of them, but neither of them were focused on the direction they were facing. Patrick wasn't finished,

"Do you know how I feel when I look at you Trixie?... I feel glad, I feel happy. There are no conflicting emotions when I look at you Trixie. I just remember the joy you brought to Marianne's life, the fun, the laughter, the music. I am sure that's what Tim will remember too."

He turned to face her, she kept her gaze ahead of her.

"So don't ever think you didn't do enough, you are enough!"

Trixie couldn't speak for quite some time. Eventually she found the courage to turn to him. She brought her hand towards his coat and said,

"l remember Marianne buying you this scarf, she was worried the nights were beginning to draw in. That was a good day, a sunny day."

Tom Hereward looked back from his crows nest perspective, away from the increasingly flustered Smee and the rest of his unusual cast.

His attention returned to the two people he had been watching avidly at the back of the church. He noticed they were no longer there.

He had been concerned for the young women who had been visibly upset, but he knew she was in good hands.

You see there is an alleyway that runs between the church and the parish hall, it's the perfect place to share a confidence, to confess, to reminisce and to smoke a sneaky cigarette, whatever your brand.

Thank you very much for reading.