A very old friend came round. He often does. As Samuel Johnston would say it’s a great excuse for us to put our feet under the table and let the current bear our boats back into the past. His father and sister both died young. My parents were pretty absent. When we were young, relatively bad boys together it was to his mother we related. She cooked us breakfast when we returned early in the morning, she supported her son and his friends through those wonderful teenage years. My memory of her, not too clear, was of a long suffering, kindly, loving middle age woman.
But this week my friend gave me a chapter that completely changed that memory,meant that I would have to rewrite this particular book.
His mother had had a steamy hot affair with the father of another student at his sister’s school. Sometime after the death of a her husband, what happened?
A few conversations at parents’ days led to a phone call, a lunch, a long talk in the car which ended with a nervous kiss. Which moved through the gears into a full adult relationship. Her son caught them necking. He has never been a prude ,his father dead he realised these things happen. Probably for the best.
But others were not so sanguine. There were a series of phone calls. Her lover’s wife wept, she cajoled, she threatened with naming and shaming, maybe as often happens in these cases,she played her ace of trumps, she threatened suicide. I will never let him go,if he goes he will have the blood of the mother of his children on his hands. Oh Medea where are thou? These cries of pain and rejection are as old as the Bible.
But they had the desired effect. The professional, suburban man could not stand the pressure,the affair ended. Maybe it would have anyway. They often do. But the story reminds that you can be very mistaken. The loving, long suffering mum who I barely knew was a more complete, passionate person than I had imagined.