A Sense Of Belonging – Episode 32

“Did Grandad Euan never consider going out to Australia to look for Jean and Nell?” Beryl asked, her eyes fixed on Maggie as her reminiscences drew to a conclusion.

“I mind him telling me that he’d thought about it,” Maggie told her. “Certainly, I know he wrote to the Child Migration Scheme asking for information. But nobody was willing to help him.”

“What a sad story,” Beryl said. “He must have hated Gertrude Pettigrew for what she did.”

Maggie shook her head.

“No, lass. Euan wasn’t one for grudges.”

“But she lied!” Susanne cried.

“Aye, she did,” Maggie said quickly. “And Euan didn’t approve of that. He did, however, find a way of forgiving her for it.”

“How?” Beryl asked.

Maggie’s expression softened.

“Oh, simple, really. He wanted the best for his bairns and he convinced himself that Gertrude must have had their best interests at heart when she did what she did.”

Later, in the car on the way back to the hotel, Sally spoke up.

“Mum never gave up hope of finding her wee brother. She traced dozens of Pettigrews out in Canada, and here in the UK, but it never led her to Marigold, Hugh or Douglas. I just wonder if they moved somewhere else.”

“That’s the difficulty in trying to trace people,” Beryl said. “If there isn’t an official paper trail, where do you look?” She stared out of the car window as they pulled up outside the hotel. Oddly, she thought she recognised the man walking out of the entrance just at that moment. Peering now, her brow furrowed in disbelief. It couldn’t be, could it?

Susanne provided the answer.

“Mum! It’s Walker!”


“The job isn’t what you expected?” Susanne asked, her gaze fixed on Walker with concern.

“No, it’s exactly what I expected,” he replied. “I just took it for all the wrong reasons.”

Susanne considered that as she ate another mouthful of the orange-crumbed Scottish salmon she’d ordered for dinner. It was delicious, the subtle citrus flavour infusing with the freshness of the fish, and the hotel’s waterfront restaurant with its ceiling-to-floor windows overlooking the Tay was equally impressive.

But it was being there with Walker that made the occasion feel special, Susanne realised. His weekend visit to Dundee to see her was the nicest possible surprise, despite the fact that the news he’d just shared with her that he wasn’t enjoying his new post in London troubled her more than it should have. After all, Walker was just a friend. It was up to him what he did with his life.

“I thought you wanted a new challenge,” she said eventually.

“I do. But I realise now that London isn’t where I want to be.”

“Oh,” Susanne said, trying to work out what he meant by that. “You must be disappointed.”

Walker was silent for a moment.

“Actually, I’m not disappointed at all. Coming over here has given me exactly the shake-up I needed. It’s put everything in perspective. I had to be far away from what matters before I could work out why it matters to me and why I want what I want.”

“I see,” she said.

“Do you? Am I making sense?”

Susanne smiled.

“Yes, you are.” This was not entirely true, but she detected some tension in his voice and instinctively wanted to put him at ease.

“I’ve done so much thinking over the last week or so. I’m seeing my life through a clearer pair of eyes now, but the picture in front of me is still taking shape, you know?” He stopped and searched her face for signs of empathy, and in response she cast him another smile. A warmer, more lingering one this time.

He’s nervous, she thought, and that wasn’t like him. Normally Walker was easy-going.

“I do know,” she said. “The pieces are all there, but they’ve not fitted together yet. That’s how I felt after my divorce. It’s exciting knowing that the picture has changed, but you’ve got to work out how to fit everything together, haven’t you?” Not waiting for an answer, she added, “And that takes a certain amount of trial and error. And time.”

Walker lifted his wine glass. He stared into it momentarily before taking a drink. Then he returned his eyes to hers.

“That’s the thing, Susanne. My instinct tells me that I shouldn’t drag my feet or waste any more time. Logically, the job in London should be a real corker of an opportunity for a middle-aged bloke like me, but journalism just doesn’t feel like a challenge any more.” He puffed out his cheeks. “What I really want,” he declared, “is a complete change.”

“I suppose if your gut instinct is telling you to do something different with your ”

Walker interrupted her.

“Something back in White Rock.”


Used to make posts more anonymous, eg a criminal case where you don’t want to expose the actual journalist.