Michelle Goldman didn't like running on the treadmill. Her reasons were threefold:
One, it made her sweat ("Feel the heat", her grandmother would say. "Horses sweat, men perspire and ladies feel the heat, bubbala"). It made her sweat and that played merry hell with her hair. It sent her expensively treated hair frizzy as all get out and her hairdresser Julian into conniptions.
Two: The treadmill was at a very exclusive country club where Mike the personal trainer would ogle her as she ran, blatantly undressing her with his eyes. This was because of...
Three: Michelle had been blessed (or cursed depending on how you looked at it) with an ample bosom. 34DD on a petite 5' 4" frame. An ample bosom that refused point blank to be tamed by any sports bra manufactured by anyone, anywhere. Even the lovely folks at Rigby and Peller had resigned themselves to defeat. She was well known in the London store. The shop assistants would roll their eyes skyward as she crossed the threshold. Oy vey indeed. She did however, have some killer lingerie as a result. Not that she had a significant other to use it on.
You would have thought that being a daughter of a wealthy family would have brought her many a suitor, but the reality was that most men she met were usually quite intimidated by her fathers wealth. Gordon Goldman made his fortune manufacturing refuse bags of all types. When Michelle was very young, her father won a contract to produce all the bin bags for the county council. The day after that news broke in the Goldman house, her mother put on her best twin set and pearls and hot-footed it to the estate agent to book viewings at houses at the expensive end of Milton. "No more Cheapside for the Goldman's bubbalah." she said to Michelle. "Now we move to a house fitting for a family of industry!" Her mother was inordinately proud. Her grandmother was vindicated. "Your zaydeh thought that your foter was a bad match! He said that he was a luftmensh! I said no, he would look after your mother and us and he did." Grandfather (or zaydeh in the broken yiddish that was spoken in the family) wasn't sure of Gordon Goldman at the beginning. Thought he had his head in the clouds. Turns out that they were the right ones. Zaydeh died when Michelle was young and bubba moved in straight away. She was still there too, 93 years old and defying death on a daily basis.
Michelle did meet other men occasionally, but they were usually shmucks. So, here she was, 39 years old and single, much to the chagrin of her mother and bubba.
After her run she showered to get the feeling of Mike's oily looks off her, quietly praying that she wouldn't see him on the way out of the club. Luckily, he was eyeing up some other poor woman using the Pilates table and paid her no mind. Michelle jumped in her car and decided that some retail therapy might be the thing that she required to cheer her up. Michelle drove to Hammersmith and parked in a hotel car park that her father had organised for her as a birthday present one year. From the hotel, she took a cab up west to see what was what in the boutiques. For a living, Michelle wrote a popular column for Elle UK which earned her a tidy income and independence from her fathers wealth. Her mother and bubba thought that she should be married to a doctor or solicitor with several children in tow by now, but she loved to write about fashion and her father was very proud that his daughter had such a passion for her work. "Get a job you love and you'll never have to work a day in your life bubbala." he would often say. "You marry when you want to my beautiful girl. Just make sure he isn't a shmuck." She was lucky to have such an understanding father. A lot of other Jewish girls she knew were being matched up by the age of 25.
Michelle spent a happy few hours in the boutiques in Savile Row and Kensington High Street. The owners of the boutiques knowing full well who she was and the damage a bad review could do to business fell over themselves to offer the best service they could with freebies and discounts galore. Hugs and air kisses were partnered with whispered "You'll give us a mention won't you?" and "Remember us this column!" breathed in here ears. As she left the last one and waited on the pavement to hail a cab back to the hotel, her phone rang. It was her mother.
"Bubbala, it's your mother."
"I know Mum, it comes up on my phone. How are you?"
"Oh you and your clever telephone and the technology. I'm fine, I have some sad news, Dr Schemels wife Bridgit has succumbed to the cancer yesterday, finally."
"Oh Mum, that's very sad." Dr Schemel was a popular member of the Jewish community in Milton.
"Oy yoy yoy, it's terrible, and him so young! Only forty five! What will he do without a wife now?
"Well I'm sure he will have plenty of support from his friends and family. Have you cooked?" Cooking was almost another means of communication in the Jewish community. Any event, happy or sad involved people bringing food to other peoples houses. Primarily for the gift and secondly for the excuse to gossip.
"Bubba is making kneidlach now, and the chicken broth is on. It will be ready by the time you get home to Milton. You should take it around to him, see how he is. Offer your condolences. Wear a pretty dress." There was a tone to her voice that Michelle knew well.
"Mother! Mrs Schemel isn't even cold yet and you are sending me around with chicken soup! You are outrageous!
"What?! We should show support for poor Dr Schemel in his time of..." Michelle cut of her mothers feigned innocence.
"I know exactly what you are inferring Mother. I will go around to see him, but I won't have you matchmaking. It's bad taste."
"That poor man needs a wife and you need a husband. Before you lose your looks. 39 and no husband! The shame of it! Where are my grandchildren?"
"They will come when they come. I haven't met the right man."
"You are too fussy is what you are! Too fussy by far, buballah!"
"Mum the cab is here." Michelle sighed "I'll see you in a while." Michelle hung up and told the driver her destination. She didn't even notice the plain man in the Harrington jacket taking photos of her with a long lens from inside his car on the other side of the road.