Wednesday, 13 January 2010
Sex Gods from the Planet Metal - Chapter Eleven
To my great relief, Mum never said a word to the rest of the family about my sexual misadventures, telling them only that our trip had been cut short because the car was fucked, although obviously she used politer terminology. Inside I still wasn’t sure what the hell to think, and went through periods of total ecstasy at not being a virgin anymore through to gloomy depression because I had been used like a fool by an unscrupulous woman I had actually rather liked until I had discovered she was an utter bitchbag.
My big challenge was what to tell Peter. Bear in mind that Peter was my bestest friend in the whole wide world. We had vowed to be friends forever, so naturally I have no idea where he is nowadays, but at the time this was a deadly serious pledge, cemented in a den we created in a nearby woods where we had cut our palms and pressed them together in a moving ceremony. Okay, so we were utter spanners, but to us it seemed very real and very grown up, even though it hurt to hold a pen for a week afterwards because I had made my cut a bit too deep. It was worth it.
As my best friend, Peter got told everything, and I mean everything. It would never have occurred to me to hold back anything from him, because I trusted him so implicitly. The thing was, I wasn’t sure of which tack to take when informing him of what had happened that week. I was seriously toying with the conquering hero ploy, swaggering around like I was the first person ever to have sex, and rubbing his nose in it until he admitted I was sexier and more manly than he could ever be. As I was admittedly still quite immature, this was a very appealing idea, as one upmanship was a serious part of my life back then. There was a greasy pole hierarchy at school, and the best way to climb it without slipping down onto someone else’s head was to have had sex. Sure, anyone could lie about it, but these people were always caught out by those that actually had. To break your duck was to join an exclusive little club of boys who were one step closer to becoming men than all of their classmates. A big part of me wanted to join that club.
The thing is, there was another part of me, perhaps not quite as vociferous, that didn’t want anything to do with the Shaggers Club (as they were informally known by smaller, impressionable boys). If I’m to be honest, all the boys that strutted and preened like they were somehow special tended to be, to a man, arseholes. They were the kids who called you names, or stole lunch from third years. They were the ones who had been gifted with a confidence, and they used their power to make sure that everyone else was so in awe of them that they never found out just how lonely they really were up on their perch. Of course, the way they did this was to treat everyone like scum, so if anyone actually had found out how lonely they were they really wouldn’t have given a shit. If I wanted, I could play the big I am without even having to embellish anything, and let that swagger enter my step, that condescending tone enter my voice. Did I really want to be that person?
These thoughts tumbled around my brain as I moped around on the first day back from Devon, counting the hours before Peter came home from school. I had decided to meet him off the coach so we could disappear to the den (still there and used after three years, incredibly) and I could see in which direction my big mouth was going to take me. At four thirty I was there at the precinct, watching as the various buses disgorged their passengers and soaking up the attention I was getting from just about everyone as “that kid what got suspended”. With every sideways glance, every whispered reference, my inner stature grew a bit, and I found I was enjoying my outlaw status.
“Slugger!” came the cry as Peter stepped off the coach. “Punched any wankers recently?” he asked as he came over.
“Not yet,” I replied, looking suggestively at him.
“Like you’d stand a chance,” he said with a grin. “So what’s up? You said last night you had something to tell me. Christ, you haven’t finally got laid have you?” He said this with his tongue firmly in cheek, but something about my expression obviously gave me away for the sex machine that I was. “No way!!” he exclaimed. “Who was she? What was it like? Was she fit?”
I held up my hand to stop the flow of questions. “Shut it,” I hissed. “Come on – let’s fuck off to the den and I’ll tell you the whole story, okay?”
He nodded, a thousand unasked questions trying to escape from his lips, and we set off at a brisk pace.
Ten tense minutes later, we both sat in the den. It was hard to get to if you don’t know it was there, a hollowed out centre in a nasty looking bush. We had discovered it whilst messing violently about, me having pushed Peter a bit too forcefully with the result that he ended up literally disappearing into the bush. It was a bugger to get into, and we had salvaged some stiff boards that we hid nearby, and we used them to part the branches on the way in and out. Once within we could not be seen by anyone who came close, and over the years had witnessed some very interesting things, including the school slag getting some from a sixth former on what they thought was a nice, deserted sunny afternoon. Something like that leaves an imprint on your mind, I can tell you, and to this day I can still hear her moans.
Peter took a cigarette out of his hiding place and lit one up. As was and still is my custom, I refused his offer of one and tried not to complain about the smoke. I knew he enjoyed a fag, and it seemed a bit cruel to object just because I didn’t like it, as he couldn’t really do it anywhere else. He inhaled deeply, the look on his face not unlike that of a drowning man who has been thrown a lifebelt and a Pamela Anderson calendar.
He blew a smoke ring and finally gave in to his inner nosy bastard. “Come on then. Tell all.”
“Okay,” I said, a serious look on my face. “But you have to let me tell it straight, without interruptions.” I had decided as we walked that I just wanted to tell him the unblemished truth without being bombarded with questions, each of which would no doubt encourage my inner bullshitter to embellish at will.
“Okay,” he agreed. “Just get on with it, will you.”
And I did. I got on with it in great detail, from Neil Diamond all the way to our speedy getaway from what had become for me the village of the damned. I told it straight, as I had promised myself, and from the astonished looks that crossed Peter’s face, it was enough of a story to stand on its own.
“Fuck me,” was all he could say when I finished and nodded that it was okay for him to speak now.
“No thanks, you're Mum's better looking,” I retorted automatically. It was one of many running jokes berween us that required the suggestion that we had shagged the other persons Mum.
Peter didn't even try to rise to the bait.
“You bastard,” he continued, oblivious to everything except the sordid images in his head, from which I had no doubt been airbrushed and replaced with himself.
“No, tell me whatyou really think,” I said, trying to keep my tone light.
“You lucky, jammy BASTARD!” he exclaimed, turning to me with the biggest smile I had ever seen. “You fucking DID it! I am so fucking jealous!”
“Hey, it wasn't all sex and chocolates, you know,” I pointed out. “She just used me. I really liked her and she shat on me.”
“Oh come on, Dave,” he said, looking at me like I was mad. “How lucky is that? If it had been love at first bloody sight you'd have spent a few months writing and phoning her, going around like a spayed puppy, maybe visiting her once at the most, then would have been even more upset when the inevitable dumping came.”
“Interesting use of the word 'inevitable' mate,” I said. “Am I so dumpable to you?”
“Don't be a twat. Look, these long term things never work out, so I reckon she did you a favour. She gave you a good shagging, sorted out your cherry problem and left you to get on with your life. What's better than that?”
“Well...” Okay, so I hadn't really thought about it that way. “It's... complicated.”
He looked smug. “No it's not. You're a lucky, jammy bastard and that's the end of it.”
I held up my hands in surrender and grinned at him. “Well, if you must put it like that...”
“I do, and you are gonna be a fucking God, mate. When the kids at school hear this... you'll be able to live of this 'til we leave.”
I was quiet, and sat contemplating my shoes. They really were crap shoes.
“What?” he asked.
“I don't know if I should tell anyone,” I said in a small voice.
“I don't know if I should tell anyone,” I repeated in a louder voice, raising my head to look him squarely in the eye.
“Are you fucking mad?” he exclaimed. “This is even better than Squarehead Jones when he got sucked of my Mandy Allsnot in the gym.”
Please note that people's real names have not been used as we much preferred the nicknames.
“Yeah, maybe it is,” I conceded. “But what do you think of Squarehead? Go on, one word assessment.”
“Well, he's a cock, isn't he.”
“Is the correct answer. How about Nethercott, or Bassy, or any of them?”
“Cock central, naturally.”
“Okay, Pete, you've done well, but here's the million dollar question: Do you think I really want to be lumped in with a bunch of cocks like that?”
There was a pause of the pregnant variety, and I could almost hear the cogs going round in his head.
“Yeah, I get it,” he conceded.
“Well done,” I said, giving him a slow handclap. “You've won a motorboat.”
This last was delivered in my best Jim Bowen accent, naturally. We both enjoyed Bullseye, especially when the two blokes from the middle of the country won, of all things, a speedboat between them. I found out later in life that the shows producer had a deal with a boat firm to give as many away as possible to winners so he could get them at a knockdown price. Of course, if someone failed to win, a car would be trundled out and the tired old phrase “Here's what you could have won” would trip cruelly from the hosts lips. Bastard.
“So it's a big secret then,” Peter said dispiritedly. “I can't tell anyone?”
“Nope. It's a shame in a way, 'cos I was hoping that Miss Wright would be the one to introduce me to the ways of sexology.”
“Oh shit!” he exclaimed at this. “I forgot to tell you.”
I looked at him in a puzzled manner. “Tell me what?”
“Miss Wright! She's left.”
“What do you mean, left?” I stammered, although I knew what he meant. He meant that the woman who had taught me so much was gone.
“She's gone, mate. Yesterday some other woman came in and said she was our new teacher. Miss Dunnery or something. Bloody stupid name for a bloody stupid woman by the looks of it.”
“But where's Miss Wright gone?” I asked, a little too desperately.
“Dunno. No one's said anything.”
“Shit!” I exclaimed. “I really liked her.”
“Yeah,” agreed Peter. “Me too.” His face took on a dreamlike expression and I could see he was off in a sordid little sex fantasy, probably involving kilts and her paying for everything.
My head was working too, but not in the same way. I made a quick decision. “Right,” I said, moving towards the bit of the bush we used for access. “I'm going to see her.”
“I'm going too see her,” I repeated. “At her house.”
“What do you mean? You don't know where she lives.”
“Says who?” I replied, raising my eyebrows suggestively.
“Where does she live then?” he challenged.
“Mendip Road,” I replied with authority. “Down by the park. I saw her parking her car there and carrying in shopping once.”
“Doesn't mean she lives there. She might have been helping a friend out or something.”
“Well, I might have seen her around there a few times,” I admitted, pausing in my pushing away of prickly branches.
“You bloody perv!!” he exclaimed, fairly enough. “I can't believe you've been stalking a teacher!”
“I haven't been stalking her,” I replied indignantly. “I've just noticed her, okay?”
“All right, all right,” he said, holding his hands up, adding “stalker,” under his breath, just loud enough for me to hear.
I gave him the finger and pushed my way out of the bush. Whatever happened, I was
determined to see Miss Wright. I felt like Indiana Jones at the start of a quest.
“Make sure you phone me from the police station with your one phone call, Stalker man,” shouted Peter from inside the den, ruining the image a bit.
It wasn't too far to Miss Wright's house. I honestly had not been stalking her, and what I told Peter was the truth. There was just something about her, something that made her different from other teachers, other adults even. She treated me with respect, and I gave her my own in return. Maybe she was the reason I was finally able to stand up to my mother after all these years, or maybe I was just growing up. Either way, I felt like I was finally starting to get the hang of this thing called life. Little did I realise that the reason it's called life is it takes a lifetime to master, but it was nice to feel good about myself for a change.
I arrived at Miss Wrights house and was surprised to see a removal van outside. I guess that put paid to any wondering about why she had left her job, but I still needed to see her, to at least say good-bye. When I rang the doorbell, I was relieved to find that it didn't play a novelty song. I really hate farty doorbells that bang out some tired old melody instead of going “Ding dong” like they are supposed to. The only novelty doorbell I have ever come across that didn't make me want to kill the owner was one that actually said “Ding Dong” with Leslie Phillips voice. I have a very warped view of the world, I know.
It only took a few seconds for the door to open, and there she was. Admittedly, she looked a lot more flustered than usual, but that's moving house for you. Behind her in the hallway two sweaty men were wrestling with a wardrobe, and from the looks of things the wardrobe was going to win by a submission.
“David?” she said, understandably confused. “What on earth are you doing here?”
“Peter said you were leaving,” I said, as if this explained everything. “I just, well, I wanted to say good-bye, I suppose.”
“But how did you know where I live?” she asked, quite reasonably.
“I remembered seeing you here,” I explained. “I live up the road.”
She seemed to consider fleshing out this flimsy explanation, but I don't think she could be bothered.
“Well, Peter was right. I am leaving. I'm moving away.”
“It's personal, David. Stop that, Kitty.” The last was directed at a small girl who had crept up behind her and was tugging at her dress for attention. I smiled at her and she smiled back. I assumed it was Miss Wrights daughter, but didn't feel it was my place to ask. I stood and waited as she was led away.
Miss Wright came back, looking a little less flustered now, and we talked. She asked me about the suspension, and I told her all the gory details. I even told her about the trip with my Mum, but didn't go into the gory details that time for obvious reasons. She explained that she was moving to Bristol to work in the college as head of English, which would get her more money. She also let slip that Kitty's father lived in Bristol, and it would enable her to see more of him. In the end the words dried up like so many puddles on a warm day, and I only had one more thing to say.
“I really just wanted to say thanks,” I said solemnly. “You're a brilliant teacher, and I reckon you'll be brilliant in Bristol.”
“Thank you, David. You keep up the good work, okay?”
“Yeah.” I couldn't think of anything else to say.
“Keep reading those Heinlein books,” she continued, with a small laugh.
“I'm on to Asimov now,” I said proudly.
“You're a good boy, David. Good luck with your life.”
“You too, Miss.”
“It's Susan,” she said kindly.
“Oh. Well, good-bye, uh, Susan.” I held out my hand and she shook it solemnly.
“Good bye, David.”
Then she slowly closed both the door, and a chapter in my life.
I do not like funerals, and I don't think I'm alone in the sentiment. I mean, I'm sure there are those who get their jollies from a burial and a good mourn, but I'm not one of them and treat death with the respect it deserves. Okay, so I did write “The Necrophilia Song”, but that was not because of an interest in the subject, more from a desire to gross out Greg at the office. It worked, too. Anyway, the point was, and still is, that I don't like funerals, and would be very happy never to have to attend one, which is a shame because I am sitting in St Mary's watching Irene's coffin slide through the curtains of doom to the strains of “Don't Fear The Reaper” by Blue Oyster Cult. Simon maintains that if you're cremating someone you shouldn't waste money on a nice coffin, because once it goes through the curtains the undertakers swipe it back, but I like to believe in honour among undertakers. The lad himself is sitting next to me, looking his usual sexy self in black. On the other side is Kate, also looking sexy in black. She is now securely ensconced in the position of my official girlfriend, and as I look at her I get the usual urges that are very inappropriate at a funeral. She has a few tears in her eyes, but mine stay dry as ever. I guess I'm just mot the weepy type, which somehow seems wrong when you're at a funeral, but there's nota lot I can do. Sure, I feel sad and all the rest, but my eyes only seem to leak tears when my balls have been whacked, which fortunately has only happened twice.
Afterwards, Simon sparks up a cigarette outside as the three of us huddle and try to work out what to say to each other.
“Well,” says Kate, bravely making the first awkward move. “That was... dignified.”
“Yes,” agrees Simon between puffs. “Very dignified that – having your remains burnt to a cinder as half the church play air guitar and the other half wonder what the fuck is going on.”
“Hey,” I interject. “It's what she wanted.”
“Apparently,” he says. “I mean, she's got no relatives, you said, so who organised all this. No one at the pub knows fuck all.”
“Probably her lawyer,” says Kate reasonably.
Simon looks shocked. “Don't talk to me about lawyers. Every time I see one of the bastards I'm waiting for him to whip out a paternity suit.”
“Wouldn't that be a shame,” Kate says unconvincingly, giving Simon a little pout.
“Excuse me,” says a voice, and we all turn to see a short, very neat man, who basically looks like the Uncle everybody never had but would have been quite satisfied with.
“What?” I say.
“Are you Mr David Marion Banner?”
“Um...” I stammer. No one has ever, and I mean ever, called me Marion. Yes, it's my middle name, but I never even use my initial, let alone the full bloody name, so how does this creep know it?
“I'm sorry to bother you, but I really must find Mr Banner. It's very important.”
“Who are you?” I ask, as beside me Simon and Kate are still trying to work out why this strange men would think my middle name was Marion.
“My name is Francis Hollingwood. I'm the late Mrs Carr's lawyer.
At the mention of the word Lawyer, Simon's head snaps up like a meerkat, ever alert for paternity suits.
“I'm also looking for Mr Simon Paul Hurford,” continues Mr Hollingwood. “Do you know where I can find them?”
“It's nothing to do with a paternity suit, is it?” asks Simon.
“What? No, of course not. I'm the executor of Mrs Carr's will.”
“Her will?” I say, confused. “Are we in it?”
“That depends,” Mr Hollingworth said. “Are you Mr David Marion Banner and Mr Simon Paul Hurford?”
“Well I'm Simon Hurford,” says Simon, always happy to be asked a question to which he knows the answer. “But I don't know anybody with the middle name of Marion, because if I did have, say, a best mate for example, with the middle name of Marion, he would have told me by now. Do you know anyone with the middle name of Marion David?” He looks at me, all exaggerated eyebrows and hurt expression.
“I can explain,” I say.
“Oh please do tell,” says Simon in his poshest voice. “This should be good.”
“It's not that good. My Dad was always a massive John Wayne fan, and John Wayne's real name was Marion. That's it, really. Mum wouldn't let him use it as my first name, thank fuck, but I sort of got lumped with it as a middle name. I've never, ever used it.”
“I'm not fookin' surprised,” says Simon, grinning. “Marion.”
“Okay,” I say, holding my hands up. “If anyone wants to make any jokes, please do them now.”
No one says anything for a second.
“Nah. That's all right, mate,” says Simon. “If it's okay by you I'll just serve them out one by one for the rest of your life.” Of course, he adds “Marion”.
“Yeah. Me too,” chips in Kate. “Marion.”
Exasperated, and not wanting to see this escalate into me murdering the pair of them, I turn to Mr Hollingworth. “Look, we are Mr Banner and Mr Hurford. What can we do for you?”
“Can you be at the Full Moon public house at seven this evening please?”
“Why?” asks Simon.
“All will be revealed. I am under very strict instructions, and will confess to you that even I do not know what to expect. The full details of the will can only be diverged at that time, with the two of you and certain others present. I take it you will be there?”
We look at each other and shrug. “Sure,” I say.
“Excellent. I shall see you then. Good day gentlemen.” With this, he walks off, presumably in search of 'certain others'.
We stand there for a few seconds, then Kate pipes up. “Are you going to be rich then? I've always wanted a rich boyfriend with a girls name.”
“I reckon you'll have to stick with the latter half of that, love,” says Simon. “She's probably left us a couple of nick nacks or something. Nice of her to think of us, though. What do you think Marion?”
“I guess we'll find out later won't we?” I reply, deliberately not rising to the bait. “I told you there was a lot of expensive stuff in the house, but that's probably going to the cats home or something.”
“Not the orphanage you saved from burning down then?” asks Kate with a giggle.
“Fireman Marion!” exclaims Simon, and the two of them collapse against each other, laughing like lunatics. I hold my head high and stalk off. Bastards.
Naturally, we get to the pub at six, because on one hand we feel that we're going to need a drink or two before whatever it is goes on, and on the other hand because we damn well know we're going to need a drink or two before whatever it is goes on. The back bar is certainly rather full for this time on a Friday evening, as the usual dregs normally hide until at least eight before coming out. Tonight, however, it's strangely rammed with regulars, and a little not too subtle probing reveals that we're far from the only ones who are curious about what they are going to get in Irene's will. Part of me suspects that it's all a big joke, and we'll all get a drink whilst the rest goes to the now traditional cats home or young conservatives or whoever Irene fancied.
The three of us sit down at the last available table and collectively wonder what the hell is going to happen. I'm still in a bit of a daze over the whole Kate thing here, to be honest, as sitting with a genuine girlfriend who I haven't lied my arse off to is a relatively rare experience for me these days. After we came back from Devon, Kate simply nipped home to Bristol for a few things then came to stay with us. We didn't really talk about it as such, it was more sort of a mutual unsaid agreement. Naturally, Simon doesn't object to a pretty girl in the house, and has told me how proud he is of me for finally getting a regular shag that isn't mental. I swear there was a tear in his eye as he said it. Kate just sort of assumed I would want her there, and I can't disagree with that. It's just, well, odd. She's mentioned going back to her Mums tomorrow, so I guess she just wanted to see me through the funeral, which is nice of her. God I think I love her.
“So do you fancy a game of pool Marion?” she says, nudging me in the ribs.
I don't think I love her any more.
I foolishly agree to play her at Morgan rates, and after three games hold up my hands in surrender after having lost most of my free pints for the coming week.
“You're a bloody pool shark,” I say sulkily.
“Somerset ladies most valuable player three years running,” she says smugly, slamming the white off four cushions and smoothly into a pocket. “All you had to do was ask. You didn't think I'd be crap because I was a woman did you?” she adds with an innocent look of surprise on her face.
“Right on sister!” cries Sally from a stool at the bar, whilst Morgan just points at me and laughs from his own four legged vantage point. At this point, I'm wondering why I ever got out of bed this morning.
As if to answer my unspoken question, Kate comes over and hugs me, whispering in my ear that I can keep the pints, and if I want she'll let me win the next one. Being a chivalrous man, I naturally take her up on the offer, giving her a public stuffing and regaining at least some of my wounded pride. As I am sensibly not doing any kind of gloating, Mr Hollingwood enters the bar and there is a silence punctuated only by Simon saying “About bloody time”. Harry is at the bar, and we all watch mutely as the lawyer gives him a DVD, which Harry slots into the player behind the bar. Mr Hollingwood steps to the middle of the room and addresses us all.
“Thank you all for coming,” he begins. “As some of you may know, Irene Carr had no living relatives, and her will has been divided, so I believe, between the people sitting in this bar.” At this there are a few small cheers, soon stamped out by stiff blows to the heads of those involved. “I have not yet viewed the DVD on which she recorded her last will and testament, so please do not interrupt it to ask me questions. I have been adequately provided so that there will be no problems on the legal side, and will answer any questions afterwards. Thank you.” With this, he nods to Harry, who presses play whilst every single other person takes a deep breath followed by a big sip of whatever they have in front of them.
The screen on the big TV in the corner comes to life, and there is Irene, sitting in what I presume is the lawyers office. A man says something to her and she nods, then a door shuts and she is alone in the room.
“Hello everyone,” she begins. “If you're watching this then I'm dead. I know I had a good send off because Mr Hollingwood will have followed my instructions to the letter. Put it this way, if Simon wasn't waving his head about to Blue Oyster Cult I'll be very disappointed.” There is a ripple of laughter at this, and Simon treats everyone to a mini headbang. From beyond the grave, Irene continues. “Anyway, I've got no one but you buggers in my life, so you get the lot, starting with Jason Ferryman, who gets my widescreen TV.” At the back of the bar, Jason gives a whoop, and as his mates promise to help him break it in Irene goes on. And on. Each and every person in the room gets a surprise, as she makes her way through her possessions, sometimes giving a monetary sum to someone she knows needs it more than material goods. It's like Santa Claus is real, and is in fact a doddery old lady with more money than sense. Sally gets some sessions with a top psychiatrist to help her get over her fears, whilst Morgan is speechless at a very healthy amount of shares in Bristol City. Soon, the only people left are Harry, me and Simon.
“And so to Harry,” Irene says finally. “A loyal and trusted friend for many years. Harry has spent too long running the pub, and he needs to rest a bit, so I'm giving him my house and £100,000 pounds. That should allow him to take it a bit easier.” Harry's jaw nearly hits the bar, and he points at me and Simon, saying “You two are gonna love this next bit.” On the screen, Irene is pausing, as surely she knew what a commotion such a pronouncement would make.
“So that's nearly it,” says Irene, a definite twinkle in her eyes. “Except for Simon and David. You two boys have brought such happiness and life to this pub, and to me, because I saw the profits. They're yours now, because I'm giving you the pub. Enjoy it.” And with a big smile, she reaches towards the camera and the screen goes blank, whilst every single person there, including us, says “No fucking way!”
“I own a pub,” I say happily to Kate as we drive into Bristol.
“I know,” she says wearily. “I was there, you know. Don't forget that Simon owns half of it.”
“I don't care,” I burble happily. “I own a pub, and I love it.”
“I'm very happy for you,” she says, leaning across to kiss me. “Next left.”
I suppose I'd better explain. The Funeral (it will always have capital letters in my mind) was two days ago, and yes, Irene owned the Full Moon and yes, she left it to me and Simon. After everyone had got over the shock, Mr Hollingwood came over and informed us that it wasn't quite that simple, but in essence we did own the pub. There were legalities, and the promise we would keep Harry on part time to help us get sorted, as well as the promise that we would keep booking bands. As far as we were concerned, these were not things that we objected to in any way. On top of the pub we got a nice cash sum (mind your own on that score) and the car I'm driving, a lovely new BMW Mini. It turned out that she had visited the lawyer when we went to Weymouth, and although he didn't know the technicalities, he was given a list of all her beneficiaries so he could arrange the gathering. He was the bastard whose detective work had found out my middle name. Bastard. Other than that, we were all pretty much in the dark, apart from Harry, and he wasn't saying.
“This one,” said Kate, and I pull up outside a nice little semi in a nice suburb of the city. She stayed the extra day to help me and Simon get over the shock (which required lots of drinking in our pub), and I agreed to drive her to her Mum's house and do the official meeting the parent thing. She's refused to tell me anything about the woman, saying she didn't want me to have any preconceptions, so I have no idea what to expect.
We walk up the path, with me carrying Kate's things (guaranteed good first impression there), and she rings the doorbell. Within a few seconds, the door opens, and I get a glimpse of the woman who may well become my mother in law one day. It's a scary thought until I register her face, which is actually rather pretty.
“Hello David,” she says, looking fondly at me.
“Hello Miss,” I say reflexively, and Miss Susan Wright laughs.
Sometimes, it all goes right. About bloody time too...