As the luke-warm razer, frigidly ran across his still youthful skin, Ian could not help wishing his mother would go to bed, if she was not coming to the Halle concert as planned, then surely she should rest her arthritic bones.

      ‘It's still not too late to take Carol, from down the way, I could hobble along and knock on for you, she’d love the chance’

      ‘Give over Mother, she’s keen on Stuart, you said so yourself when we saw them at the pictures’

      ‘Still, I don’t like to think of you on your own Ian’

Ian turned the tap further, in an attempt squeeze a bit more of life out the aging hot water system, an ominous rattle gurgled through the terraced house. His mother shivered:

      'I don’t agree with the sound of those pipes, I hope they don’t freeze'  Ian nodded in agreement, it was unusually cold even for the 3rd December. ‘I’ll go and see if your socks are dry.’

      ‘There’s no need Mother, really I …’ but she was off, like an excited worker bee, always happy to be of service.     'worker bees live for one year and work themselves to death’ mused Ian, quickly pushing the thought down.


On the dresser was the clipping from the Manchester Evening Chronical, that his mother had triumphantly presented to Mrs Sheldon at Number 23 that morning, before deciding that her bones were too uncomfortable to head into town . The tickets had not been cheap and Ian was loath to take any of the young women that his mother had eagerly suggested replace her. Afterall, he was not young. The review of the Halle concert was mixed, Mozart’s No 27 described as ‘light for a big orchestra and more like chamber music. Intimate.’ Ian sat upright on his bed. The acclaimed pianist Andre Tchaikovsky gazed out of the clipping like a matinee Idol. Creamy skin, bright eyes and chiselled cheekbones, a Romeo fit for Juliet.

      ‘Oh I am proud of you Ian’, his mother helped him into a velvet jacket borrowed from Jack Burlington’s father. Ian also felt a momentary burst of pride, but never one to be arrogant, pushed the feeling down.

It was not the first time Ian had taken the bus into Manchester’s urban apocalypse . But he had made a promise to himself. The bus turned the corner, pride turned to shame. Pulling up to Free-trade Hall, Ian disembarked, confronted with the sign ‘Peter Street’. His Pace quickened down Mosely Street. Breathless along Princess Street, Portland street, Sackville Street and into the night.

         'Andre was just like in the paper Mother’, he would later confess to Mother

Copyright © Sarah Armstrong as ‘Dita Kelly’ 2019