Finishing my doctoral dissertation took weeks of unending work. Constant work with my supervisor for changes, removals or additions took me well into the night, every night.
When it was finally completed, a day before the deadline, my supervisor suggested I take a break, as the committee would be busy reading it for a while.
I remembered that Philip was going to Italy and finishing the holiday in Venice. Maybe we could spend a day together there and really find out if there was something there for us. I would send him a text message when I had arrived. A rush of booking flights and hotel and quick packing and I was ready to go.
After landing and getting my luggage, I was leaving the airport when I saw him. Rather passionately kissing a woman. I must have stopped and stared for a moment, because he looked up and saw me watching. I rushed out and found a taxi to my hotel.
I was determined to enjoy the break, and for two days took a boat to one of the islands with a private beach. Swimming and lying in the sun, catching up with some of the books I’d bought and had no time to read previously.
Doing nothing game me time to fume. So I started exploring, walking and seeing areas of the city where normal people live. It is astounding how badly some of the buildings have deteriorated. Sitting at a coffee shop watching people passing by, the Venetians are often beautiful people.
Then on day four I took a taxi to Murano, to a glass factory still operating. A lot have closed down. Poland and China have taken a lot of the bulk work away.
I started chatting to the manager and designer and invited them for a drink after the factory closed. The discussion left me with an interest in what went into the glass, to make it better for blowing, flat creation, moulds etc. The additives for colours have been known for centuries.
Over drinks, I realised this was something I wanted to investigate and take further. On the family estate there were deposits of several of the raw materials needed. The tradition of glass creation had been lost. I felt it should be revived.
That night I phoned my father for a discussion about it, and he was delighted I’d found a new project.
The next few days were taken up with negotiating the contract for a year for the manager’s brother who had managed another glass factory to come and set up a glassworks and training school for the locals in the town near our estate.
I returned to face my examiners for the doctorate and they seemed happy with me. I was notified I would be graduating in two weeks at a ceremony at the university.
When I told my father, he said “This calls for a family celebration. The first in the family for several generations.” Over dinner we planned it, and I realised he meant quite a big dinner.
Then he turned sad and said, “But with all these successes, isn’t it time you thought of making me a grandfather? What happened about that young man cousin Gerard told me about?”
Gerard, the old King, is a real noseyparker. He wants to know how everyone is doing. So I laughed it off and told my father I’d been so busy with my degree, I hadn’t had time to think.
The night of my graduation, it seemed that the whole extended family had come to celebrate.
Leo, the current king, ensured we sat together. He asked about my holiday and laughed when I told him what I got up to. “What a queen you will make” he said, surprising me with the earnestness of his expression.
“That silly promise” I murmured, “made when we were too young to know what life was about”.
“I forgot it for years”, he said, “But now that I am nearly 35 I think it was the best pact I ever made with anyone”.