Gladys couldn’t recall ever having won anything before, and now a nice young man from the local radio station was on the telephone, informing her that she’d won first prize in that month’s phone-in astronomy competition.
Gladys first discovered astronomy at the age of eight. Her brother was given a telescope for his tenth birthday, but soon lost interest. One frosty night during the blackout, a bored Gladys casually pointed the telescope at the moon and ignited a lifelong passion.
She hadn’t had a telescope for quite some time. Apart from any other considerations, she now lived in a one-bedroomed flat and she would have spent all her time tripping over it.
As soon as the young man hung up she realised she’d forgotten to ask what the prize was. No matter; it was being delivered tomorrow and she’d find out soon enough.
As usual, Bella started barking just before the doorbell rang.
“Where do you want the telescope?” asked the courier.
Gladys stood impassively for a moment, and then put her hands to her face to wipe away the tears that were beginning to stream down it. The courier placed his arm around her shoulder and helped her onto the hall chair.
“Why are you crying, love? Don’t you like it?”
“No, I love it,” sniffed Gladys. “I couldn’t have asked for a better prize.”
“What’s the matter, then?” the courier asked.
So Gladys told him, while Bella the guide dog gently nuzzled her tear-salted hands.
(c) Helen Lewis 2004