Della had always been patient.
As a child she would sit at the scrubbed kitchen table, feet swinging from the too-high chair as she fumbled at chunky wooden jigsaw pieces, turning each in stubby fingers. It might take her all day to finish the puzzle, but she would. Every time.
‘She’s no Brain of Britain,’ her Mum was often heard to say. ‘But that girl has the patience of Job.’
And so it was with Dougie.
She first saw him in 1982 as he bent over the water fountain in the playground. Perhaps it was his cold blue eyes that attracted her, or the mole shaped like Africa on the back of his wrist. Whatever it was, Della knew one day they would be together.
Dougie didn’t notice her through school. Never saw her in the shivering crowd each Saturday at the village football matches where he played centre forward. Didn’t acknowledge her when she worked behind the bar at the White Hart, even though she always had a pint of mild waiting for him.
Through his two marriages, three children, two messy divorces, Dougie never noticed Della. Not until the day she wrote off his Ford Cortina with her Electric Orange Datsun Cherry.
Wedding number three – number one for Della – was planned to perfection. Unsurprising as she had been thinking of little else for twenty-four years. But as the first day of their honeymoon dawned, Della had to use more concealer than was usual and despite the July heat, she picked a long sleeved polo neck for their stroll along Blackpool front.
Five weeks later Della filed for divorce. She was patient but – despite what her mother thought – she was not stupid.