Thursday, May 24, 2012

Sandra Davies

Best Laid Plans

Gaspar, maître d’ at Giuliano’s in Leith, was both a perfectionist and someone who liked to be in control which, since he dealt daily with the unreliability of the dining public at both lunch time and in the evening, was a handicap and a never-ending source of frustration.

As a long-time favourite, and more than just a customer, Ed Hetherington was less likely than most to be on the receiving end of Gaspar’s displeasure, despite the fact that Gaspar would more than ever want things to be perfect for him. It was Ed who had, a fortnight earlier, made the booking for this lunch, not needing to spell out what was required once he had stated its purpose. Then, the evening before, Ed again who had, with apologies, warned of an increase from the original four, maybe five, to nine. On the day itself no warning could be given of another additional couple, although in the end the numbers were correct and the reason for Gaspar’s considerable disappointment lay elsewhere. His concern too, initially, since it was unusual for any party of Ed’s to be as much as half an hour late. Following explanation, he was entirely mollified, although concern was transferred and a residue of disappointment remained since it was, in his experience, positively unheard of for the bride and groom to be unavoidably absent from their own wedding lunch.

In truth, the whole event had been somewhat precarious. Had been hastily arranged, last minute and ragged at times. Second and mercifully third thoughts frequently occurring, doubts not entirely banished either although both the proposal and acceptance had been genuine enough and the unprompted urgency with which necessary arrangements had been made entirely reassuring.

They had checked that the one essential witness – Ed of course – would be both free and willing, which he was (and would have been regardless of what he had to cancel) but there was some uncertainty as to who her witness might be, until she thought of Lydia, who was delighted. And that was all, except that Lydia’s husband Ian might also wish to be there. With forty-eight hours to spare they thought they ought to let their respective parents know what was going on. Being parents, loving as well as loved, they determined on being part of it, not matter how hasty their arrangements had to be. Hence the first increase in numbers.
And hence also for one set of parents a shock, because although it crossed their minds that there might be a further reason for the haste, they had not realised how far advanced things were until they saw the bride. The groom had deliberately said nothing at the time of their estrangement and then had been too superstitious, desirous of reducing risk. And he might have mentioned it a couple of days previously, except that it had slipped his mind. His brothers who, on hearing of the event and having met the bride just the once had also insisted on coming, just to see if the youngest member of the family really did know what he was doing, were instantly and unavoidably convinced that yes, he must do and laughed, not for the first time, at his ability to create drama.

They were even more convinced that the expectant bride was just right for him when she created further drama of her own, her waters breaking on the steps of the registry office as they paused for, fortuitously, just married photographs.

That a son had safely and speedily been born reached Giuliano’s minutes before the party broke up and Ed, relaying the news, promised Gaspar that he’d bring Madigan and Baz and baby along for a lunch at the earliest opportunity, while refusing to contemplate any such role as godfather.

© Sandra Davies 2012

Sandra Davies is a writer and printmaker, occasionally combining both disciplines as in ‘Edge: curve, arc, circle’ and ‘One that got away’ the precursor to four more novels. Her main writing blog is lines of communication from which links to printmaking blogs can be accessed.


  1. I really enjoyed it. The writing style reminds me of George Orwell's Keep the Aspidistra Flying, which I recently encountered.

  2. Well done Sandra. When does the novel come out?

  3. I like the tone and style in this piece. In it Sandra seems to have somehow gotten hold of a British version of the American writer Dawn Powell's voice. And the character of Gaspar who may have been meant to be a walk-on deserves more of a story of his own. The situation at the climax may have had many another writer wringing their hands and crying for your attention at "the shock" whereas SD appears to be relating it as all in good fun--almost. One of my favorite writers.

  4. Thanks Derek (note to self to seek out 'Keep the aspidistra flying', it's a long long time since I read Orwell)
    Ed - I hope to have copies with me at Spirit Lake
    MDJB - thanks as always for providing this space and the encouragement (Gaspar does walk on at least once more ...)

  5. How did I not see this before? I just today stumbled on it. Wonderful. And I agree that Gaspar, with whom you opened the story and who grabbed my interest, probably deserves a story of his own. I had to laugh when I read "they had not realised how far advanced things were until they saw the bride." I would have liked to see their faces.


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