This is the second instalment of New beginnings
Sometimes Paul felt as though he was part of his camera, as though he had always lived his life looking through a lens and maybe any minute a voice would yell out saying 'Cut!! Sorry got to do it all again.' His mother liked to joke that he formed his little hands into a square whenever she looked into his cot , to put her in focus and concentrate on her features. He had always been able to pick out a seemingly insignificant detail in his surroundings, like a quirky chimney on a roof, a little bird with a worm in its beak pausing before a nest, a ray of sunshine throwing a shadow across a table and lighting up the sunbeams. His teachers had noticed this ability straight away and encouraged him to study at the Academie des Beaux Arts in Paris.
His phone lit up. It was his mother. His sister had shown her how to use Facetime and now she rang him every day.
'Oh Cheri, you look so tired. You haven't shaved today non? '
Paul smiled at his mother.'
You instead maman, are radiant. I like your hair like that.'
His mother tucked a small strand of her glossy auburn hair behind one ear and turned her head making her dangly silver earrings catch the light.
'Thank you Paul. I had it cut especially to show off the earrings that you and dear Greta sent me for Christmas. Now what I want to tell you is that Jean Claude 's friend Olivier the one with a private plane is coming to Birmingham to an exhibition and there is room for the two of us. We would like to come and see you this weekend and take you all out for a wonderful meal. Jean Jacques will book somewhere really nice. And please ask everyone to come. I have already mentioned it to Anne and Malcolm. Jean -Jacques send his love to Ricky, did you see the way they are together.?'
A pretty blond girl appeared in front of Paul's mother and put a steaming cup in front of her.
'Thank you Morgan. This is my son isn't he handsome?'
Morgan raised her eyes shyly to the i phone screen and smiled.
Paul nodded his acknowledgement.
'But where are you maman? I am at work and must finish a shoot before this evening.'
'I'm having a pedicure. By the way which nail varnish do you prefer?'
She held up two bottles of brightly coloured varnish.
Paul grinned.' Oh the hot pink, it goes with your blouse.'
'Thank Jean-Claude I am sure everyone will be delighted to come. It will be a great start to the New Year.'
As Paul walked back to the studio he let out a chuckle. At seventy-two, with two children from two husbands, hardly anyone would guess that his mother was a renowned Financial Genius. She had doubled the fortunes of her first two husbands, which they had soon frittered away. They still adored her and were always asking her for advice. Both the husbands had much younger wives now and other children but she had managed to keep everyone together in harmony. She had an instinctive knowledge of how to keep people happy. After two marriages his mother had at last found the ideal man for her. Jean-Claude was some sort of engineer who had won all sorts of awards for his international expertise. No-one was sure what he had done with his life, but he spoke six languages, some quite obscure and had a scar on the underside of his arm. Now in his early seventies, he was a cross between Robert Redford and Indiana Jones , he was still a formidable figure and was completely devoted to his mother Madeleine. He also had a heart of gold. He had never had a family of his own and was delighted to have found one at last.
Paul looked at his phone. He was still thinking about the text that Greta had sent. Something very important to tell you this evening I love you G X.'
She must want to tell him personally otherwise she would have rung. He knew how upset she was about their little cat Timmy but she wouldn't have wanted to distress him about that at work. What could it be?
He loved his work. He loved seeing his vision of the life going on around him ransformed, bringing out the beauty of details that often only he had observed. For a long time he had worked with fashion and photographed some of the most beautiful women in the world. He had been doing this when he met Greta. He had been filming a fly-on-the-wall documentary of the fashion world. He had walked into the make-up studio and there she was. She looked so tiny next to the tall willowy blond models in the room. Her elfin features were framed by a neat glossy bob. She was perched on the stool with her make-up brushes poised, studying the model's face in front of her with the intensity of Cèzanne looking at the St.Victoire. He had tried to attract her attention with witty remarks and comments, circling round her with his camera lens framing the scene. He had stopped and looked right at her. It was like a thunderbolt going through hi, making him hold his breath and gasp with the intensity. He who had seen such universal beauty now saw what he had been searching fo in the eyes of a woman. Hidden there under her silky fringe and looking back at him was the eternal fire of passion. For the first time in years he put his camera down. There was no lens between them, no filter, just the two of them. He had found her. She was The One.
Paul walked into the studio where all the staff and camera team were still working.
'I think that's enough for today. I'd like to get home early to avoid the fog. So thanks everyone and we'll re.schedule this evening.'
On the drive home Paul thought of letting Greta know and then decided to surprise her.
Thanks to his mother guidance and encouragement he had always worked hard and looked after his finances. At nearly fifty he felt that he was ready for a change. He wanted to spend more time with Greta. His sister-in-law Joyce had got him interested in animal sanctuaries. He had a new book coming out in the Spring. It was all about a seal sanctuary in Cornwall that he and Greta had visited. Greta had been on a course to make-up people with facial disfigurements near the sanctuary and the two of them had spent a happy Summer there. Paul was always brimming with ideas and thinking of new projects.
He parked his car next to his sister-in-law Joyce's and let himself in.