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Elizabeth Gwen 27.4.70 by George Parker
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Elizabeth Gwen 27.4.70 by George Parker
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Location: Southampton UK
"ELIZABETH GWEN 27.4.70" in Chit-Chat.
Re: Elizabeth Gwen 27.4.70 by George Parker
« Reply #345 on: August 09, 2014, 07:17 PM »
Here is my newly revised version of my novel, please ignore the previous thirteen chapters.
I was only able to post three Chapters in one go, so the rest will come in another post.
Don't forget to reply to let me know you've arrived.
A CHRISTIAN MARRIAGE
When my wife told me that her old school-friend, Vic, had made her pregnant, but that she hated him, and wanted to stay with me and have me bring the baby up as mine, I wasn’t quite sure, what to do for the best.
I was aware that as a Christian I should forgive her and accept her back into the fold, because she had confessed her sins and repented, but I wasn’t sure if it would be right of me to rob Vic of his baby.
Sunday October 5th. 1969.
34 Brunswick Road, Fair Oak, Eastleigh, Hampshire.
After washing up the lunch things, I left the kitchen, and crossed the hall into the lounge. The autumn sun was streaming in through the large front-room window filling the room with a rich golden glow. It was my favourite sort of day. The golden glow filled me with a sense of peace and well-being.
I stopped in the doorway. Something was wrong. My wife Jill was standing by the Cotswold stone log-burning fireplace, which I’d built from one side of the room to the other, her left arm outstretched, her hand resting lightly on the oak-veneered mantelpiece.
She stood tall, slim and elegant in her county-style, green and brown tweed suit, cream silk blouse, tan tights and crocodile leather, high-heeled shoes.
Her shining, auburn hair framed her fair, oval face and blue eyes, glamorously enhanced with cosmetics by Lancôme.
She looked every inch the lady, as she was wont to do, but I couldn’t understand why she was standing.
Jill was never standing, when I entered the lounge on a Sunday afternoon. She was usually sitting on the sofa, talking to her old school-friend, Vic, or sitting on the sofa reading her novel, waiting for him to arrive.
And where was Vic? He was usually here by now to keep Jill company, whilst I went sailing for the afternoon.
I was grateful to him for his visits because it meant that I could go sailing without having to feel guilty at leaving Jill on her own so much.
I seemed to have become obsessed. As soon as the sun shone and the wind blew, I was off. I even went out in a Force 6 in the winter. We’d bought a seventeen-foot Kestrel dinghy the year before, but Jill had quickly lost interest and left me trying to sail it on my own, which I was finding rather difficult, but I couldn't stand being beaten.
And why was she leaning? Jill didn’t ever lean. She was too upright to lean: too upright physically and too upright morally. She was particularly upright morally about sex. She didn't believe in it. She didn't believe in married women engaging in it, much, and she didn't believe in unmarried women engaging in it, at all, and if they did and became accidentally pregnant, then that was very much worse. That was the depths of depravity. Jill despised unmarried mothers, with a vengeance, as she was quick to say, given the chance, which I didn’t quite understand, because, it didn’t seem very Christian, for a devout believer.
We met in church on the second Sunday morning in February 1960, after Sung Eucharist, at All Saints Church Eastleigh, where I'd attended since the age of five, firstly as a Sunday School pupil with the Sunday-School teachers, Miss Taylor and Miss Gale, and then at 10, as a choir-boy, with the distinguished choirmaster, Mr. Lowton, and then at 12 as a boy scout, with the Scout-Master, Dennis Prior, and then at 15, as a Youth Club member, with the Youth Leader, Mr. Horton, and then at 18 as a communicant with the vicar, Canon Lambert, and then at 22, as a candidate for ordination into the priesthood, with the curate, my good friend Roger Atkins.
She was walking up the aisle, as I was walking down. I stopped and asked her if there was anything I could do to help, and she bestowed upon me the most dazzling smile I’d ever seen. I basked in its glow. It filled the highly vaulted and deeply shadowed church with sunlight. It was like a benediction.
She told me that she was the new Sunday School Superintendent coming back from the morning session to report to the curate. I was completely captivated. She seemed like a gift from God sent to join me as my devoted partner, in my Divine calling of lifelong service to God and the Church, and I wondered if there was anything I could do to get to know her better, and asked her if she would like me to give her a lift home, after she’d finished talking to Roger, and was delighted to hear her say that she would.
When we arrived at her address, outside the Newspaper Shop and General Stores, on the corner of Hamilton Road and Spring Lane in Bishopstoke and parked at the kerb, I was delighted to find that she was in no hurry to go indoors, but was quite happy to remain sitting next to me in the car, chatting away quite amiably.
I explained to her that I lived in Locksley Road on the other side of Eastleigh, but was currently in the army completing my National Service with another six months to go and was only able to come home at weekends, and she told me, somewhat tragically, that her mother had died two years earlier, and that her father had kicked her out, eighteen months later for staying out too late with her boyfriend, and that she’d had to move in and live with her Aunty Lily over the shop, but that it wasn’t very comfortable, because there wasn’t enough room for her, with her Aunty already having two grown up children of her own, and I couldn’t help feeling sorry for her.
As the weekends went by, and we continued to see each other, she went on to tell me that her father had never shown her or her younger brother any affection.
He’d got conscripted into the army, just after she was born, in 1939 and she hadn’t seen him until she was six.
Her mother had refused to remain living with his family as he had wished, because they hadn’t been nice to her, and had gone back to live with her own, where Jill had been brought up by her Aunty Lily, for already having a baby of her own to look after, whilst her mother had been kept busy working all hours in the shop as she’d been doing ever since she’d left school, nine years earlier, with the result that Jill had ended up growing closer to her Aunty Lily than her mother, which her father had greatly resented when he’d come home.
He’d moved his family out of the shop and into a council house on the other side of town, in Magpie Lane, as soon as he could, which was coincidentally, just round the corner from me, and forbidden them from ever seeing his wife’s family again, which had done nothing to bring Jill and him closer together, but everything to drive them apart, with her spending all her time trying to defy him and see her beloved Aunty Lily behind his back, and I couldn’t help feeling even more sorry for her, and wanting to take her under my wing, like a waif from the storm and shower her with love and affection to make up to her for the love and affection she'd been deprived of as a child, which lack of affection, I realised, must have caused her psychological damage, about which I’d just read in the extremely instructive book I was reading, by Dr. Leslie Weatherhead, the moderator of the Methodist Church, called: "Psychology, Religion and Healing", which explained that lack of affection in childhood causes children to suffer from feelings of rejection, inferiority and depression, in later life, and I couldn’t believe what an amazing coincidence it was that I’d learnt about this psychological damage, at the same time as I’d met somebody who suffered from it, and couldn't help thinking that God really must have sent her to me, because He wanted me to devote my life to looking after her and making her happy, to make it up to her for the love and affection she’d been deprived of as a child, and to reduce the effects of the psychological damage she’d suffered as a result, and felt overwhelmingly privileged to think that He had honoured me with such a profound and important calling, and so, three months later, under the infallible direction of the Almighty’s guiding hand, I asked her to marry me and, to my great relief and joy she accepted and asked me if she could move in and live with me and my family, where she could have her own room, and be more comfortable, and my parents were only too happy to agree.
Three months later I got demobbed, and three weeks after that, Jill and I got married on the 27th of August, 1960, at All Saints Church, in an extended Marriage Service sanctified by Holy Communion, conducted by my good friend Roger, and now, after nine years of devoted married life together, here was my sweet and pure young lady of class and distinction, standing before me, in the lounge of our own home, waiting to tell me something extremely important, it seemed, from the way she was standing there, in front of me, with her arm outstretched and her hand resting lightly on the mantelpiece, like a speaker about to deliver a speech.
I looked at her face. She wasn’t looking very happy, which wasn’t a good sign. We hadn’t been getting on very well over the previous few months and I wondered if I’d done something to upset her, and as I waited patiently to find out, I was surprised to see how long it was taking her to get started.
What was holding her up?
I had no idea.
It wasn't like Jill to be backward in coming forward if she had something she wanted to get off her chest. She usually came straight out with it, sometimes with a vengeance, so why wasn’t she now?
I didn’t know, and looked at her face more closely to see if I’d got things right.
She was looking unhappy wasn't she?
Yes she was.
And she was looking annoyed, wasn't she?
Well, I wasn't quite so sure about that.
Perhaps she wasn’t.
But, if she was looking unhappy, but, wasn’t looking annoyed, what was she looking?
I had no idea.
And then the truth suddenly hit me like a thunderbolt, and I couldn’t believe it.
She was looking worried, which was something I’d never expected to see her looking again, because it meant that she was coming to me with her problems again.
She hadn’t come to me with her problems for months. She’d gone to Vic. She seemed to have gone off me altogether. I’d hardly got a civil word out of her, so why hadn’t she gone to him with this one?
And I guessed that she probably had, but that he hadn’t been able to help, and so she’d come to me instead, and I couldn’t help feeling overwhelmed with nostalgia.
I’d felt honoured and privileged at being able to help her with her problems in the past and now, it seemed, I was going to be able to feel honoured and privileged at being able to help her with them again, and wondered what was wrong and guessed that it couldn't be anything very serious, because things were going too well for us.
We’d managed to save up enough money to buy our own house two years earlier, and Jill had been able to give up working full-time, to work part-time, and although I hadn’t got accepted for training into the priesthood, as I’d wished, I had been able to get a good job as a teacher, and everything seemed to be going swimmingly, and so, I guessed I’d have her problem all sorted out in five minutes, but, still couldn’t work out why she was taking so long to tell me what it was.
She seemed to be too frightened to speak, and so, I thought perhaps I should give her a bit of encouragement, and said sympathetically.
'Is there anything wrong?'
'Yes,’ she said meekly with a brave, little smile, and I couldn't believe it.
She looked as if she had all the problems of the world on her shoulders, which, she thought were completely beyond the help of anybody, but why would she think that?
She should know by now how good I was at solving her problems.
I’d solved enough for her in the past, and I was even better at solving them now for having got a BA Hons degree in Sociology and Psychology at Exeter university, four years earlier, which I was finding very helpful, and for having just started a part-time MA course in Educational Psychology at Southampton university, which I was finding even more helpful, so why would she think that I’d have any trouble solving her problems now?
I had no idea, and asked her even more sympathetically.
‘Would you like to tell me about it?'
'Yes,’ she said bravely, and I became even more confused.
Why was I getting only one word answers?
When was I actually going to hear what her problem was?
'What it is then?' I asked, caringly.
'I'm pregnant. It's Vic's,’ she said, succinctly, and smiled pitifully, as if to say: “If you can believe it?”
But I couldn’t.
All sorts of strange things started to happen, the likes of which I’d never heard.
The first was that her words didn't seem to register, but just kept going round and round inside my head like a meaningless echo, with my struggling to make sense of them in an endless debate with myself.
“Pregnant? But she can't be pregnant! You have to have sex to get pregnant and she doesn't like it, and so, she wouldn’t have had it!
And even if she had liked it, she wouldn't have had it with Vic, because it would be adultery, and she wouldn't have dreamt of committing adultery, in a million years, because it’s a mortal sin, and against the Ten Commandments, and she's a devout Christian and a paragon of virtue!
And so she can't be pregnant!
But she says that she is, and that the baby is Vic's, and so she must be, and it must be his, and it certainly can't be mine because she hasn’t let me have sex for two years!”
And then something even more strange started to happen. Everything became surreal.
The light faded and the scene in front of me started to take on a sepia appearance as if I was looking through a brown mist.
And then something even more strange started to happen. A strong wind seemed to blow up, and I felt as if I was standing in the teeth of a gale, and feared that I was going to be blown over backwards, only to find, to my relief, that something even more strange was happening. My feet seemed to have become glued to the floor to keep me upright so that I could defy the wind.
And then something even more strange started to happen. My body seemed to become perforated as if I was made of straw, and instead of blowing against me the wind was blowing through me.
And then something even more strange started to happen. My life started to flash before my eyes, as if I were drowning, but not in the way I would have expected with the scenes appearing in front of me as they actually happened, but with their appearing inside the illuminated compartments of an express train as it thundered past in the darkness at a level crossing, and so it went on for what seemed to be hours, until the meaning of her words finally sank in, and enlightenment started to dawn and my heart sank into my boots, as it suddenly occurred to me what she was going to say next.
She was going to tell me what I'd been waiting for her to tell me for months.
She was going to tell me that she was going to leave me and go off with Vic.
But why was it making me feel sad?
Why wasn’t it making me feel happy, for her, to think that she was going to find greater happiness with somebody else?
And then, the horrifying truth suddenly sank in.
Because, if the look on her face was anything to go by, she wasn’t thinking that she was going to find greater happiness, she was thinking that she was going to find utter misery, and I couldn’t help feeling sick.
That meant my marriage had failed.
I’d married Jill to make her happy, but I hadn’t succeeded.
My marriage was ending with her feeling utterly miserable, and then my heart sank even further, as I realised how imminent my failure was.
She was probably planning to leave me straightaway.
Vic was probably on his was round to pick her up.
She’d probably already packed her bags and left them upstairs, and, was just waiting for me to offer to help her bring them down, and so, struggling to cope with my overwhelming sense of guilt, I said.
'Is there anything I can do to help?’ expecting to see her bustle past me, out of the room and up the stairs, saying.
“Yes. You can come upstairs with me and help me bring my bags down. Vic is on his way round to pick me up.”
But she didn’t.
She remained standing where she was, and, to my astonishment, said, with a look of agonized doubt on her face, as if she thought my help was the last thing she could expect.
'Yes. I would like to stay with you, and I would like you to bring the baby up as yours.’
And I couldn't believe it.
What did she want to stay with me for?
I had no idea.
And how could I bring the baby up as mine if it was Vic's?
‘What do you want to stay with me for?' I asked in bewilderment. 'And how can I bring the baby up as mine if it's Vic's? He'll go mad!’
And to my utter astonishment, the Jill I knew and loved returned, as she drew herself up to her full height, and said, venomously.
'No it’s not Vic's! It's mine! And it's got nothing to do with him at all,’ and added, even more venomously, 'It's all his fault I'm in this mess! I hate him, and I never want to see him again!’
And I felt overwhelmed with relief to think that my marriage had not ended in failure, and, although I doubted that she never wanted to see Vic again, I brightened up, considerably, and said.
'OK, if you're sure Vic won't mind,’ only to hear her reassert even more venomously.
'It doesn't matter whether Vic minds or not! It’s got nothing to do with him at all! It's my baby, not his!'
'OK,' I said, reassuringly in an attempt to calm her down, 'if you're sure,' and went to bed, that night, feeling rather confused.
Although I felt relieved to think that my marriage had not ended in failure, and, although I felt extremely happy to think I was going to have a baby, I found it a bit hard to believe that I was actually going to be allowed to keep it.
Was Vic really going to let me rob him of his baby?
It didn't seem likely, but when I woke up the next morning, I was surprised to find that I felt quite the opposite.
Jill was right. It wasn't my fault if Vic had sown his seeds into a woman who didn't want him. It was his.
If he’d wanted the baby, then he should have made sure that he had the mother first, but he hadn’t.
She didn’t want him at all, apparently. She hated him, with a vengeance!
And I suddenly realised how important that fact was.
I’d learnt from my child-rearing studies at university that it is essential to a baby’s welfare that its parents be devoted to each other, so that it grows up in a loving and harmonious environment, which meant if Jill hated Vic then they wouldn’t be able to provide the baby with the loving and harmonious environment that it needed, and, so I would have to let her stay for the baby’s sake, because the baby’s welfare would have to come first, because it was the innocent party in this “mess”, as Jill had described it, and shouldn’t be allowed to suffer in any way at all.
I’d also learnt that it is essential to a baby’s welfare that its mother be free from stress whilst pregnant, because, if a pregnant woman suffers stress, it causes an excess of cortisol to be excreted into her blood, which is transferred through the placenta into her baby, to weaken its system and make it vulnerable to disease, chronic-stress and depression in later life.
And so, if Jill felt she would be less stressed staying with me, then, I would have to let her stay for the baby’s sake, for that reason too.
And I couldn't help thinking that God really must have sent the baby to me, because He wanted me to devote my life to looking after it and making it happy, as He’d sent Jill to me to devote my life to looking after her and making her happy, and I couldn’t help feeling overwhelmingly privileged to think that He had honoured me with such a profound and important calling, again.
Although I was delighted to do God’s Will and let Jill stay and bring her baby up as mine, I couldn’t help feeling confused to think that she wanted me to, because I’d got the impression over the previous year that she’d lost interest in me and become seriously involved with Vic.
It had begun in the previous October, when I’d caught them kissing.
I’d crossed the hall and gone into the lounge, as was my usual practice, on a Sunday afternoon, and found Vic and her sitting close together on the sofa with their heads turned towards each other, and their lips just touching.
As soon as she saw me Jill leapt up off the sofa, and shot across the room like a rocket, laughing her head off, as if she thought the whole thing was a joke, but Vic didn’t.
He remained sitting where he was with his head down between his knees, too ashamed to show his face, looking the picture of guilt, and, I couldn’t work out if the kiss had been a joke, or not.
I was aware that it could have been, because Jill had a nasty habit of taking the Mickey out of Vic, and could have given him a quick peck, knowing that I was coming into the room, because she thought it was funny to make him look stupid for a joke, but, I didn’t think she had.
She’d introduced Vic to me, just after we were married, as her best friend from Barton Peveril Grammar School, with whom she’d said, she would like to keep in touch for old times’ sake, and had admitted that he’d been infatuated with her from the day they’d first met, at eleven, but that she’d never felt able to return his feelings, for always seeing him as being a bit of a joke, as reflected in the fact that when he’d asked her to marry him, nine years later, she’d turned him down, and married me, and so, not wishing to be churlish and cause her to lose a friend, I’d agreed to his coming round to see us occasionally, as he had, for the past eight years, but now I was wondering if things had changed and she had come to the point where she did feel able to return his feelings, but realized that there was no point in my asking her, because she wouldn’t tell me.
She would just laugh her head off, as if she thought the very idea of her being even remotely interested in Vic, was the most ridiculous thing she could have ever thought of, as she always did, despite my having told her, quite categorically, when we got married, that if she were ever to meet somebody else she preferred, then, she shouldn’t feel guilty about it, but, should feel free to tell me about it and leave me on a friendly and amicable basis with my blessing, not because I’d thought she ever would meet somebody else she preferred, but because I had a phobia about being thought-of as a clinging vine, as the result of what my mum had told me, when I was fourteen.
She’d informed me, much to my disgust, that, after she’d been married for six years, she’d met somebody else she’d preferred, but hadn’t felt able to leave my dad, for thinking that he wouldn’t have been able to cope without her, which, in my eyes, had not only made her look treacherous for not loving my dad as she should, but, made my dad look pathetic, for suggesting that he would have preferred to cling on to somebody who didn’t want him, rather than letting her go, and finding somebody who did, which had made me resolve to ensure, when I got married, that my wife never made the same mistake, not that my telling her seemed to have helped much where Vic was concerned, because, she still hadn’t told me anything about preferring him, despite the fact that it looked as if she did, and I wondered how I could find out the truth, and guessed there was only one thing I could do: leave them on their own together as much as possible, (which rather conveniently fitted in with my obsessive desire to go sailing), in the hope that, in the fullness of time, her feelings for him would grow to the point where she would feel able to tell me about them, but, was surprised to find five months later, that she still hadn’t told me anything about her being seriously interested in him, , or shown any further sign of it, until we went to a Ouija Board session at a friend’s house, in the March, when, to my surprise she couldn’t have made her interest more apparent.
I’d never been to a Ouija Board session before and had only gone out of curiosity, but after fifteen minutes, I wished I hadn’t bothered, because it was a complete waste of time.
There were seven of us sitting around the large, circular, polished, mahogany table at a neighbour’s house, just down the road from us, which included the host Brian Sims and his wife Hilary, my wife Jill and Vic, Jill’s brother David and his wife Sandra, and me.
Everybody had their index finger placed lightly on the rim of the bottom of an upturned wine glass placed in the middle of the table, with the letters of the alphabet placed around the edge, and the words "YES" and "NO" placed on opposite sides: the "YES" card in front of Jill and the "NO" card in front of me.
The glass was supposed to spell out answers by sliding around the table, under the influence of the “spirit”, which was supposed to work through our fingers to make the glass stop at letters, to spell out words, or move directly to the "YES" and "NO" cards to give a quick answer, but, after a quarter of an hour, I was disappointed to see that it had gone nowhere, and that some of our bereaved members, who had been hoping to get reassuring answers to the grave questions they’d been asking about their dearly departed relatives had started to become quite upset at having received none, until, finally, I became so sick with boredom at seeing the glass go nowhere, and so annoyed at seeing people getting upset for no reason at all, that I decided to help them out, by answering their questions myself, and was surprised to see how easy it was for me to push the glass where I wanted it to go, and to give people the reassuring answers they wanted, until, I suddenly found myself being confronted by Jill asking me a question about Vic, which I didn’t understand at all.
'Is Vic going to emigrate?', she asked, with a merry, little laugh, and I was completely stunned.
Why was Jill asking a question about Vic?
It was a bit incriminating. Did she want everybody to think that there was something going on between them?
I wouldn’t have thought so.
And why was she asking a question about the living?
You weren’t supposed to ask the Ouija Board questions about the living. You were supposed to ask it questions about the dead.
And, in any case, if she wanted to know something about Vic, why didn’t she ask him? He was sitting right next to her?
And, why was she laughing? Asking the Ouija Board questions wasn’t supposed to be funny. It was supposed to be serious, at which point, I suddenly realized that I had a bit of a problem, because I didn’t know the answer to the question.
It is easy to answer questions about the dead, because the dead can’t speak and contradict you, if you get the answer wrong, but the living can, and I wondered if I was walking into a trap.
Were Vic and Jill trying to catch me out?
Was Vic waiting to pick me up if I got the answer wrong?
I didn’t know and looked in his direction to see if I could work out what he was thinking.
If he was glaring at me accusingly I would know that I was in trouble, otherwise not, but was surprised to find that he wasn’t looking at me at all, but had dropped his head and was staring resolutely at a spot on the table in front of him, looking distinctly unhappy.
Why was that?
I had no idea.
So what was the answer to Jill’s question? Was Vic going to emigrate or not?
I didn’t know. I hadn’t even known he was thinking about it.
And I suddenly realized that he must be, or, Jill wouldn’t be asking me a question about it, and I couldn’t believe it.
If Vic was thinking about emigrating, why hadn’t she told me. It was obvious that I would want to know. It was life-changing, so why had she kept it a secret?
I had no idea, and couldn’t believe what a weird situation I was in.
Here I was at a Ouija Board session, trying to help people out, by giving them answers to their tragic questions about their dead relatives, only to discover that my wife and her boyfriend were having secret conversations, behind my back. How weird was that?
But why would Vic be thinking about emigrating?
I had no idea.
I’d thought Jill was on the verge of leaving me and going off with him, and guessed that the best way to find out more, would be to say, yes, in answer to her question, to keep the conversation going, and so, slowly and deliberately pushed the glass towards her and the "YES" card, expecting to see her laugh as merrily at my reply, as she’d laughed at her question, only to find to my surprise that she didn’t laugh at all, but, looked rather worried, instead.
Why was that?
I had no idea, but guessed it wasn’t important, as she quickly recovered, and, said, with another merry little laugh.
'Is Vic going to Canada?'
“Good grief!”, I thought. “Is Vic going to Canada?”
What on earth would Vic want to go to Canada for?
I didn’t know, but guessed that he must be thinking about it, or Jill wouldn’t be bothering to ask a question about it, and so, slowly and deliberately pushed the glass towards her and the "YES" card, expecting, once again, to see her laughing as merrily at my reply, as she’d laughed at her question, only to find, once again, that she wasn’t laughing at all, but, was looking even more worried.
Why was that?
I had no idea, and wondered what her next question might be, but was shocked to discover that before she had the chance to ask it, Vic had turned his head towards her and was whispering in her ear, loud enough for everybody to hear.
'Stop asking questions!’
And I couldn’t believe it.
Why was Vic showing himself up, by trying to tell my wife what to do, in front of everybody, at a Ouija Board session?
I had no idea, but, couldn’t help feeling annoyed, because I’d been looking forward to gleaning even more information from her about the secret conversations they were having behind my back about his emigrating, and was relieved to see that Jill didn’t take any notice of him, but turned back to the glass and said, with another merry little laugh.
'Is Vic going to get married?’ and I was even more stunned.
“Is Vic going to get married?” I repeated to myself, in total disbelief.
What did Vic’s getting married have to do with anything?
Nothing, as far as I could see.
One minute we were talking about emigrating, and the next we were talking about marriage.
What was the connection?
There wasn’t one, but then, the penny suddenly dropped, and I understood exactly what was going on, and what Jill was up to, and why she was laughing so much, and I couldn’t believe her brass faced impudence.
She was actually using the Ouija Board session as an opportunity to take the Mickey out of Vic, and I couldn’t believe it.
No wonder he was unhappy, and had tried to stop her.
He knew exactly what was going on.
She was, in fact, repeating a session that had taken place, on an earlier occasion, which Vic doubtless remembered only too well.
It had arisen as the result Vic telling Jill, her cousin Brenda and me, about a conversation he’d had with a female colleague at work when, he’d rather unwisely gone on to refer to her in a somewhat familiar fashion by name, as “Marianne” and Jill had been down on him like a ton of bricks.
She saw Vic as her personal property, who wasn’t allowed to think of another woman, let alone refer to one by name; let alone in a familiar manner, and so she’d derided him mercilessly about it.
She’d asserted that if he found it so difficult to avoid mentioning Marianne, by name, in such a familiar and endearing manner, in front of everybody, it must mean that he was totally obsessed with her and, had to be breaking his neck to go off and see her, and obviously, didn’t want to be with us, at all, ignoring all his plaintive protests to the contrary, and pointing to the door and inviting him to leave, and reducing him to a squirming, writhing heap of embarrassment in the middle of the lounge carpet, and now, she was, going to do it all over again, in front of everybody at the Ouija Board session, apparently, which meant, at least, I knew now, how to answer her questions, and so, pushed the glass back across the table towards her and the “Yes” card with added emphasis, expecting to see her laughing even more merrily at my reply, than she had at her question, only to find, once again, to my surprise that she wasn’t laughing at all, but, was looking even more worried, and was taking even longer to get over it than she had before, until eventually she said, with another less merry, little laugh.
'Is Vic going to marry somebody older than he?', the significance of which I understood immediately.
She was older than Vic, and Marianne was younger, which meant if I were to say, no, it would mean that Vic was not going to marry her, but, was going to marry Marianne, which she would find hilarious, as she had before, and so, I pressed down on the glass to jam it against the table, to stop it moving away from me, and released my pressure when I felt it moving towards me and watched it as it started to move slowly but surely, in my direction, to stop finally at the “NO” card, and looked up at her, expecting to see her looking as amused at my answer as she had at her question, only to find to my surprise, that she wasn’t looking amused at all, but was looking quite upset.
Why was that?
I had no idea, and waited for her to recover, when she said, with a rather weak laugh.
'Is Vic going to get married in Canada?’ except that her laugh didn’t come off, but fell flat and sounded hollow, which I couldn’t believe.
For her laugh to have fallen flat and sound hollow meant it was false, but, Jill wasn’t capable of doing anything false, because she was a paragon of virtue, at least I'd always thought she was, but now I wasn’t so sure.
Perhaps she wasn’t.
And then I got an even bigger shock, as she started to become quite desperate and begin to bombard me with questions, so rapidly, about how many children Vic would have, and, what sex they would be, and, what their names would be, that I found it hard to keep up with her, and wondered if there was some sort of duel going on between us, to see who could wear the other out first, as she went on to ask me what the name of his wife would be, requiring me to have to spell out: “Marianne” at length, somewhat laboriously, letter by letter, until, finally, upon seeing the name, Jill suddenly ground to a halt, unable to speak, on the verge of tears, covered in sweat, like the victim of a virulent fever, looking a total wreck, as did Vic, whose head had dropped further and further, as Jill’s distress had got deeper and deeper, leaving me to wonder what on earth was going on.
Why had she ground to a sudden halt?
What was wrong with her?
I had no idea, but, whatever it was, I could see that she was obviously much more attached to Vic, than she liked to make out, which, combined with the fact that her laugh couldn’t be trusted, meant that I could ignore all the times that she’d laughed at the idea of her being attached to him, too, which meant that she was obviously, very attached to him, which left me with a rather puzzling question.
If she was so attached to Vic, why was she still with me?
Why hadn’t she left me and gone off with him?
And there seemed to be only one answer to that question, because she didn’t want to get the blame for the breakdown of her marriage.
She didn’t want to become the guilty party.
So, what could I do about that?
There seemed to be only one thing I could do: pretend that I was the guilty party, so that she could put the blame for the breakdown of her marriage onto me and leave me and go off with Vic, without censure, as she wished.
So, how was I supposed to achieve that?
There seemed to be only one way: pretend that I was carrying on with another woman, behind her back, and make sure that she found out.
The only snag was, how could I ever find a woman, who would be willing to help me pretend that I was carrying on with her, behind my wife’s back, and, then make sure that she found out?
I had no idea, but, after only two weeks, was amazed to find, that the perfect opportunity arose.
At the beginning of April, Jill, Vic, David, Sandra and I went out for dinner to the Compton Arms in the New Forest.
Jill, Vic and I went in the first taxi, and David and Sandra went in the second.
When we left to come home afterwards, Jill was so engrossed in talking to David, that she got into the first taxi with him and drove off, leaving Sandra, to get into the second one with Vic and me, and I found myself sitting on the back seat, with Sandra to my right and Vic to my left, and realized that it was the perfect opportunity for me to put my clever, little plan into action.
All I had to do was pretend to make amorous advances upon Sandra in front of Vic, and then when we got home, he would be happy to tell Jill about my indiscretions, and she would be happy to think that she had the evidence she needed to accuse me of infidelity and leave me and go off with him, without censure, as she wished, and so I turned to Sandra with a silly grin on my face to make it look as if I was under the influence of drink, and put my right arm around her shoulders to make it look as if I was being amorous and lent over her to make it look as if I was trying to kiss her, in the hope, on the one hand, that I wasn’t offending her too much, but was, on the other, convincing Vic that my advances were genuine, and was relieved to see that I wasn’t offending her too much, but was surprised to see that I was convincing Vic, much better than I’d expected.
I’d expected him to be, nothing more than, a shocked but silent observer, but was surprised to see that he was neither shocked nor silent, but was both approving and loud, and was giggling hysterically and egging me on to go even further, as if he thought my amorous advances upon his best friend’s wife were hilarious, saying.
'Go on then, George! Get stuck in there!,’ and I guessed that the first phase of my helpful little plan had worked perfectly.
Vic was so convinced that my amorous advances were genuine, that he was actually encouraging me to continue them.
When we got home, I was pleased to see that he couldn’t wait to tell Jill of my sinful infidelity, so much so, that he kept hopping about from one foot to the other in impatient agitation, which I didn’t quite understand.
What was he waiting for?
Why didn’t he hurry up and tell her?
He must know that I wanted him to, or I wouldn’t have misbehaved with Sandra in front of him, but, apparently he didn’t.
I didn’t know, and then the penny suddenly dropped: because I’d convinced him that my infidelity was genuine, in which case I certainly wouldn’t have wanted my wife to know about it, and so, I started to make endless trips to the kitchen to make countless cups of tea, so that he could tell Jill about my indiscretions, behind my back, being careful to leave the doors open behind me, so that I could hear what was being said, in my absence, and was delighted to hear him giving Jill exactly the sort of frenetic, graphic and embellished blow by blow account, that I wanted her to hear, so that she would be convinced that my indiscretions were genuine too, and would think that she had the evidence she needed to accuse me of infidelity, and leave me and go off with him, without censure, as she wished, and guessed that she must be feeling quite grateful to me for providing it, and would lose no time in making use of it, and waited expectantly, as the days went by, to see her pack her bags and go, only to find two weeks later that she still hadn’t gone.
I had no idea. It was most confusing. It seemed that my display of infidelity hadn’t been convincing enough, so what was I going to do now?
There seemed to be only one thing I could do, put on another one, and make it even more convincing, and put it on in front of her, so that she could witness it, for herself, but how was I ever going to be able to achieve that?
I had no idea.
I didn’t imagine that the opportunity to put on a convincing display of infidelity in front of your wife, came along very often, but was amazed to find that the perfect opportunity arose that very weekend.
Jill, Vic and I were invited by a friend of a friend of Jill's, to a birthday party at the house of a neighbour, a couple of streets away, but as soon as we arrived, I was shocked to find that Jill dumped me and went off with Vic to the other side of the room, and left me standing by the front door, on my own, in a room full of strangers.
Why had she done that?
I didn’t know. It wasn’t very friendly. She’d never done it before, and I wondered if it was because she wanted to talk to Vic in private, about her plans for leaving me, and wondered what I was I supposed to do now.
I didn’t know a living soul. I didn’t know Jill’s friends, let alone her friends’ friends, and I couldn’t help feeling completely abandoned, lost and alone.
All the other guests were chatting away quite happily in friendly little groups, and having a great time, but I guessed that none of them would want to talk to me, because none of them knew me, and I started to fear that I was going to be left standing in the corner of the room, on my own, for the whole evening, when, suddenly, to my great surprise an attractive young woman came up to me, and introduced herself as Emma, the hostess, and asked me how I was getting on, and I was completely stunned.
I wasn’t used to being singled out for attention, by attractive women at parties, or anywhere else, if it came to that.
It had never happened to me before and I wondered why it had happened to me now, and guessed that it was just a case of Emma doing the rounds, as the hostess, and that she would soon be moving on, only to find, a half an hour later, that she was still with me, and that we were getting on rather well, and were talking and laughing together, in such a relaxed and convivial manner that you would have thought we were old friends.
We seemed to talk the same language, which came as a bit of a surprise to me, because I wasn't used to anybody talking the same language as me for having a rather probing and analytical outlook, which most people found boring, if not irritating, and which had got me into a lot of trouble as a child, with my mother, who’d complained bitterly that I had a nasty habit of “always wanting to go into the ins and outs of the cat's tail”, which had really got on her nerves, but not Emma’s it seemed, who appeared to be enjoying my outlook, for sharing it, which made a nice change, and it suddenly occurred to me that the relaxed, convivial and intimate manner we were sharing was precisely the sort of relationship with another woman that I needed to display in front of Jill to give her the evidence she needed to accuse me of infidelity, and glanced in her direction to see if she’d noticed, and was surprised to see that she’d not only noticed but had become quite engrossed, and suddenly realized that my display must be much more convincing than I’d realized because, on this occasion it wasn’t a pretence, it was genuine. I really was carrying on with another woman, and so I turned back to continue enjoying the increasingly close and friendly conversation with Emma, that we had begun, and as we continued talking, I was surprised to see how great that enjoyment had become.
I'd never enjoyed anybody's company so much.
We had become really intimate, and, the longer we were together, the more intimate we were becoming and it seemed from the way Emma was behaving that we were going to be together for quite a while, because she was showing no sign of wanting to leave.
She’d been with me for the whole evening, and so I guessed that she must be enjoying my company too and I started to notice that the closer we had become conversationally, the closer we had become physically, with the exchange of playful little prods and friendly little squeezes, which were something quite new to me.
I’d never exchanged playful little prods in the ribs, and friendly little squeezes of the arms, with anybody before, and hadn’t even known it happened, but apparently it did, and was just too intimate for words, and I suddenly realised that we were enjoying the sort of relaxed, convivial and intimate relationship that I'd always dreamt of finding with a woman, but never had, and was amazed to think that Emma was the girl of my dreams: the girl I'd thought I would never meet, and the girl I'd thought didn't even exist, but, the girl, who, apparently, did exist and was standing in front of me, right now.
And as we continued to enjoy this blissful and transcendent experience, I started to feel a desire the likes of which I'd never felt before, to take a woman into my arms, and hold her tight, and kiss her and never let her go.
And I started to feel an urge I’d never felt before, and would never have thought, I was capable of feeling at all, to leave a party with a female partner, in front of the whole company there present, and go outside, to find a secluded spot, where we might enjoy an amorous interlude on our own together, as, without preamble, I put my arm round her waist, and guided her to the front door, hoping that she wouldn't resist only to find, to my surprise that she came along quite happily, and led her out of the house, and down the garden path, to find a suitable spot where we could hide away from prying eyes, and decided upon standing in the street on the far side of my car, where I took her into my arms, and bent over her, to see with surprise how readily her face came up to mine, as she closed her eyes and pursed her lips, ready for my kiss, looking as helpless and vulnerable as a child, and I felt overwhelmed with compassion, as I pressed my lips down upon hers, and discovered the most utter bliss I'd ever known, as she melted totally into my arms, and I melted almost as totally into hers, but not quite, for knowing that I couldn't shut my eyes and forget the world, as could she, because I had to keep them open, and focussed on the house in case Jill came out to see what was going on, and I couldn’t believe what a weird situation I was in.
The only time in my life that I'd ever met a woman at a party, with whom I'd wanted to go outside for an amorous liaison, had miraculously turned out to be the only time in my life that I'd needed to put on a convincing display of infidelity, in front of my wife, so that she could accuse me of infidelity and leave me and go off with her boyfriend, without censure, as she wished, as to my utter amazement, I saw the front door open and Jill appear on the doorstep, and set off down the garden path towards us, with Vic in hot pursuit, only to come to a sudden halt after three paces, as her eyes met mine, and I realized, to my disgust, that I wasn’t hidden from view, as I’d hoped, but, was clearly visible over the top of the car, in the bright glow of the overhead street-lights, and wondered how long she was going to stand there.
There was no reason for her to stay.
She had, presumably, found out what she wanted to know.
I was being unfaithful with another woman.
She had the evidence of my infidelity that she wanted.
Now she could go back into the house and leave us in peace, but, to my amazement she didn’t, and I couldn’t believe it.
She wasn’t going to stand there and watch me kissing another woman, was she?
Apparently she was, and I hoped that she didn’t think that I was going to speed things up for her benefit, because I couldn't.
I was too worried about Emma.
She seemed to have gone into some sort of ecstatic trance, which I’d never seen before, and I feared that if I were to disturb her, she might suffer some sort of psychological damage, and so I watched over her carefully, and cradled her gently, and continued to kiss her tenderly, sharing her euphoria, and was surprised to see how long it was, before she began to stir.
It was all of five minutes, before her eyelids began to flicker and her body began to relax and I was able to release the pressure of my lips on hers and raise my head, and slacken the bond of my embrace as she looked up at me and smiled in blissful ecstasy, and we slowly extricated ourselves and I took her hand in mine and we walked back to the house, and I gave the intrusive pair on the side of the garden path a smile and a nod of acknowledgment as we passed, to let them know there were no hard feelings, on my part, for their intrusion into my privacy, and hoped that they were grateful to me for the evidence I had provided, as Emma and I went back into the house to continue enjoying the blissful and transcendent relationship we had discovered, and at the end of the evening we all said our goodbyes, and I returned home with Jill and Vic, and nothing was said, and I couldn't believe how well the evening had gone.
I’d given Jill two ways of ending our marriage.
She could either leave me and go off with Vic, on a friendly and amicable basis with my blessing, or, she could invite me to get involved with Emma, and leave her, on a friendly and amicable basis with her blessing, when she would gain the added advantage of being able to divorce me for adultery, instead of having me divorce her, but, as the days and the weeks went by, I was surprised to find that she did neither.
She didn’t go off with Vic, and she didn’t invite me to go off with Emma, either.
There seemed to be only one answer to that question, because she wanted to stay with me, and I couldn’t help feeling sick.
That meant I wouldn’t be able to follow up on my rapturous romance with Emma, because if I were to tell Jill that I wanted to leave, when she wanted me to stay, she would just burst into tears, and make me feel like a criminal, and I wouldn’t be able to cope with the guilt, which meant that my only chance of finding happiness now depended on my being able to improve my relationship with her, but, as the months went by, I was surprised to find that I couldn’t improve my relationship with her at all.
I couldn’t get a civil word out of her and I couldn’t do anything right, but, now that October had arrived, everything, had changed, apparently.
Now I could get a civil word out of her and I could do something right.
I could get a civil word out of her by listening to her tell me that she hated Vic and never wanted to see him again, and, that she wanted to stay with me and have me bring her baby up as mine.
And, I could do something right, by letting her stay and bringing her baby up as mine.
And I was only too pleased to do as she wished, for the baby’s sake, providing I could be sure that she was telling me the truth, and it seemed that I could for two reasons.
Firstly, because she knew that by staying with me and having me bring the baby up as mine, she was breaking Vic’s heart, and you wouldn’t have thought she could have done that to somebody she cared about at all, let alone to somebody that she cared about a lot, which seemed to suggest that she certainly didn’t care about him at all.
And secondly, because she knew that once she got my name on the baby’s birth certificate, she wouldn’t be able to go off with Vic, because, if she did, he would be bound to tell his child that he was its real father, when its birth certificate would become a very incriminating document, for revealing three utterly horrendous things about her, to her child and everybody else.
Firstly, that its mother had committed adultery and become accidentally pregnant in the process, by having had sex with its father, whilst still married to another man.
Secondly, that its mother had tried to hide her adultery and accidental pregnancy by staying with her husband to produce a false birth certificate to pretend her child was his.
And thirdly, that her mother had broken its father’s heart by staying with her husband and sharing its birth and early life with him, instead of with its father.
And she was well aware that if she wanted to go off with Vic, then, all she had to do was have a quick divorce and marry him, and get his name on the baby’s birth certificate, when it would be genuine and reveal nothing, but she hadn’t, because she wanted to stay with me and have me bring her baby up as mine, because she hated Vic and never wanted to see him again.
However, in spite of that, I still wasn’t sure if I could believe her, because she hadn’t been all that truthful in the past.
There had been her recent examples of dishonesty.
Firstly, when I’d caught her kissing Vic in the lounge, and she’d tried to pass it off as a joke.
Secondly when she’d pretended to be amused, at the Ouija Board session, by laughing falsely, only to have her laugh fall flat and sound hollow.
Thirdly, when she’d nearly passed out, at the Ouija Board session, at the thought of losing Vic, despite having always denied being remotely interested in him.
And fourthly, when she’d had sex with Vic behind my back.
And, there had been earlier examples.
The first one had related to her carrying on behind my back with a colleague at work, at the bank in Exeter, which came to light when we left Exeter and moved to East Sussex, where I’d got a job as a Lecturer grade A, in Liberal Studies at the College of Further Education in Crawley.
[ Last edit by George183 August 10, 2014, 01:40 PM ]
Location: Southampton UK
"ELIZABETH GWEN 27.4.70" in Chit-Chat.
Re: Elizabeth Gwen 27.4.70 by George Parker
« Reply #346 on: August 09, 2014, 07:23 PM »
When we arrived in East Sussex, we were lucky enough to be able to obtain a six months lease on a very nicely furnished maisonette, on the southern outskirts of Horsham, and, after dinner, one sunny September evening, Jill suddenly looked up and asked me if I would like to go out for a walk in the beautiful, Autumn countryside, and I said that I would be only too happy.
After we'd been rambling down winding lanes and along woodland paths, for about a half an hour we came to a picturesque sun-speckled spot by a black paling fence, with a meandering river and a quaint little weir, and she suddenly stopped and turned to me, with an anxious look on her face, and said apprehensively.
'If I tell you something you won't laugh, will you?' and I felt quite offended.
What sort of a question was that?
Why would I laugh if my wife wanted to tell me about something that was worrying her?
My Christian principles wouldn't allow it, as she should have well known, for being a Christian herself.
Christians weren’t supposed to laugh if somebody wanted to tell them about their problems.
They were supposed to be kind, caring and understanding, and I prided myself on being particularly kind, caring and understanding, for having just obtained a BA Honours degree in sociology and psychology, the better to achieve it.
'No, of course I won't!' I said, indignantly.
'It's about Michael,’ she said, tentatively.
That came as a bit of a shock. What did Michael have to do with anything? I’d thought we'd left him behind, in Exeter.
He'd been the junior clerk at the bank where she’d worked. She'd brought him home a few times to meet me, and I'd thought he was quite a nice chap.
'Michael,' I said, in surprise, 'what about him?'
'He had a crush on me when we were in Exeter,’ she said, 'and asked me to marry him.'
“Had a crush on her?”, I repeated to myself, in amazement.
That came as a even bigger shock. I didn’t think he was such a nice chap now, but why had he asked her to marry him?
There was no point in that.
It was obvious she wouldn’t be interested in a young pipsqueak, like he. He was eight years her junior. He'd only just left school. It would be cradle-snatching and I was pretty sure that Jill wouldn’t go in for anything like that.
'Yes,' I said, kindly.
'He's been transferred to London, to work,’ she continued, 'and he said he would give me three months to make up my mind.'
Transferred to London?
Nobody had told me.
I didn't know.
And why had he given her three months to make up her mind?
She wouldn’t need three months!
She wouldn’t need three minutes!
'Yes,' I said, caringly.
'But he phoned me up today,’ she said plaintively, 'and told me that it's all over, and he's met somebody else, called Annabel, and he’s going to marry her.'
'Oh, dear,' I thought, 'she's upset.’
She must have felt flattered to think that he’d wanted to marry her, and now she’s feeling deflated to think that he doesn’t.
'Oh, dear,' I said, caringly.
'But it's only been two months,’ she said, tragically, 'and he promised to give me three.'
'Oh, dear,' I thought, 'she’s very upset,' and I felt quite annoyed with Michael.
I had enough problems with keeping my wife happy, without having idiots like him coming along and making the job even more difficult, and I couldn't help feeling a bit disappointed in Jill too.
I would have hoped that she would have had more sense than to let herself get upset by the immature and meaningless infatuations of a child.
'What happened, then?' I asked, understandingly.
There was a pause.
I hadn't expected a pause.
What was there to pause about?
She could hardly be having a problem remembering what happened.
It only just had.
'We only had a necking session in the back of the car,’ she said, defensively, and then, added hastily, 'but only once,’ and I felt utterly sick.
It was too horrifying for words.
My wife had been physically intimate with another man in the back of my car.
My car was defiled.
She’d never had a necking session with me in the back of my car or anywhere else, if it came to that.
She’d never kissed me, at all!
I hadn’t thought she’d gone in for it.
I’d thought she was like my mother and my grandmother. They hadn’t gone in for it either, but she did, apparently, but not with me, only with Michael.
It was utterly soul-destroying.
What did Michael have that I didn't have?
I had no idea.
And what did she mean by saying that she'd "only" had a necking session with him?
Did that mean that she thought that it was perfectly OK for a married woman to have necking sessions with other men, behind her husband’s back?
What sort of morality was that?
And what did she mean by saying that she’d done it, “only” once?
Did that mean that she thought it was positively virtuous, if a married woman managed to confine herself to having a necking session with another man behind her husband’s back, to only one occasion?
It was unbelievable.
She was completely depraved, and I felt utterly sick, and took an involuntary step backwards in revulsion.
I no longer felt very kind, caring and understanding, anymore, as Jill could probably see from the look on my face, which was now causing her to become a bit annoyed, as she said resentfully,
'I only lost Michael because I put you first.'
Only lost him?
What did she mean by "lost" him?
How could she have lost him?
She’d never had him had she?
And I felt even more sick, as the whole horrendous truth finally sank in.
They’d had a full-blown affair, and it could have been going on for years. We’d been living in Exeter for three. She was totally degenerate.
And what did she mean by she'd put me first?
How did I come into it?
'What do you mean,' I asked in confusion 'you only lost him because you put me first?'
'What I mean is,’ she said, disdainfully, as if she thought I was the biggest idiot she’d ever seen, 'the only reason that I lost him was because I couldn’t leave you, because I knew you wouldn't be able to cope without me,’ and I couldn't believe it.
She’d hit me dead-centre right in the middle of my sensitive nerve.
She couldn’t have said anything worse.
She thought I was a pathetic clinging vine who would prefer to cling on to somebody who didn’t love them, rather than let them go and find somebody who did, and as if that wasn’t bad enough, she’d done something even worse.
She’d lied as well.
She’d said that she’d stayed with me for my benefit, when, she hadn’t decided to stay at all.
She’d already told me that Michael had upset her by phoning her up and telling her that he’d cut short the time he’d given her to make up her mind by a month, which meant that she hadn’t made it up, yet.
She’d insulted me, twice over.
Firstly, by thinking I was a pathetic clinging vine, who couldn’t cope without her and secondly by thinking I was an idiot who couldn’t see through her lies.
Lies she was telling me, in an attempt, to make me feel beholden to her for “staying for my benefit”, instead of feeling disgusted with her for carrying on with Michael behind my back, and I found myself feeling so utterly disgusted at her insulting and depraved behaviour that I turned on her in a fury and said, in a tone of utter contempt.
‘Why wouldn't I be able to cope without you? I wouldn't have any difficulty coping without you at all!' and laughed derisively, as if I thought it was the most ridiculous thing I’d ever heard of, and to rub in my derision, added, mockingly.
‘You must be joking!,’
And she burst into tears.
And I felt like a criminal.
And took it all back.
And said I didn’t really mean it.
And took her into my arms and held her tight and comforted her until she started slowly to recover.
And we began to share amusing and malicious remarks about Michael and his new girlfriend, noting with particular hilarity, that the only “Annabel”, we'd ever heard of, was a cow.
And she started to laugh and it was all over, and everything returned to normal.
She’d confessed her sins, and cried her eyes out, and repented, and sought my forgiveness, and so, I’d forgiven her and taken her back into the fold and continued to love and care for her, as I had before, like a good Christian should, safe in the knowledge that she must be telling me the truth, when she’d said that her affair with Michael was over, because he’d dumped her and married somebody else.
The second example of her dishonesty related to her carrying on behind my back with a colleague at work, at the bank in Crawley, which came to light when we left Crawley and moved back to Eastleigh to live, where I’d got a job as a school teacher at Portsdown Second School for Boys in Cosham.
A few months after I’d started my new job at the College of Further Education in Crawley, in September 1965, Jill came home from work and told me that the deputy bank manager, David Martin and his wife Barbara, who worked in the housing department at the local council offices, had invited us round for a meal on the following Friday evening, if I would like to go, and I was only too happy to agree.
David and I got on like a house on fire and he was kind enough to invite me to join him for a round of golf on Saturday mornings, at the local Golf Course, which went on for two years, until Jill and I moved back to Eastleigh, when I was sorry to think that I was going to give up playing golf, for having nobody to play with, until Jill told me, a month later, much to my surprise, that David was moving to Eastleigh too, for having been transferred by the bank to their branch in Botley, a small village, just down the road from us, and I couldn’t believe my good luck, and almost wondered if he’d moved to Eastleigh for my benefit.
She went on to explain that he would need somewhere to live when he arrived, whilst he was looking for a house to buy in Botley, and asked me if my parents would mind putting him up, and so I asked them, and they said they would be only too pleased to take my good friend David in as a lodger.
Six months later, David completed the purchase of his new house in Botley, and Barbara came down from Crawley to join him, and when I phoned him up the following Saturday morning to find out what time he wanted me to pick him up for golf, Barbara answered the phone, and a rather strange conversation ensued.
‘Hi Barbara!’ I said, ‘It’s George Parker, is David there?’.
‘No, he’s just gone round to the paper shop,’ she said, ‘can I take a message?’
‘Yes,’ I said, ‘can you ask him what time he wants me to pick him up for golf?’, and there was a pause, before she said, in a rather confused tone of voice.
‘How can you pick him up for golf when you’re in Crawley? We’re living in Eastleigh, now, eighty miles away.’
‘Yes, I know,’ I said, feeling a bit confused, too, ‘but we’re in Eastleigh too. We live just up the road from you’, and there was another pause, before she said, in an even more confused tone of voice.
‘When did you move to Eastleigh?’
‘August,’ I said.
‘So you’ve been here, all the time that he’s been here then,’ she said.
‘Yes,’ I said. ‘He arrived a month after us.’
‘Oh,’ she said, in an even more confused tone of voice. ‘I’ll tell him when he gets back, then,’ and replaced the receiver, leaving me feeling a bit confused, too.
Why hadn’t David told Barbara that we’d moved to Eastleigh?
I had no idea.
I’d told him in June that we were going to move, and had said good-bye to him, when we’d played what I’d thought was going to be our last round of golf in August.
A couple of days later, Jill told me that Barbara had phoned up and invited us round for dinner on the following Friday evening, and that she’d accepted.
When we arrived, I found that Barbara had pushed her long dining room table, across the window alcove in the dining room, and that she was sitting at one end to my right, and David was sitting at the other end, to my left, with Jill sitting next to me, to my left at David’s end, and with me sitting to Jill’s right at Barbara’s end, when events proceeded to take a very strange turn.
No sooner had we got seated than Jill turned to David and started to monopolise him completely, and engage him endlessly in excitable, animated conversation, interspersed with giggles of amused and apparently shared hilarity, as if they were intimately involved, and she was besotted with him, and ignored me altogether, much to my chagrin, which I didn’t understand at all.
Since when had Jill and David become intimately involved?
They hadn’t as far as I knew.
They’d met as colleagues at work in Crawley, but they hadn’t met at all since David had come to Eastleigh.
Jill hadn’t mentioned seeing him and he hadn’t mentioned seeing her, and I could see from the look on his face, that he didn’t seem to think they’d become intimately involved, either.
He wasn’t looking at all happy at being the target of Jill’s undivided attention, which, I could see was not being helped by the fact that Barbara was glaring at him daggers drawn, and so it went on for the whole evening, until we left, when David saw us out to our car, and we said our goodbyes, and I couldn’t believe what I’d witnessed, but knew that it was no good my taxing Jill about it, because she would just make-out that it had meant nothing.
When we returned home I couldn’t help wondering what David was going to have to say about Jill’s strange behaviour when we got together for golf the next day, but, found to my surprise that when I phoned him up to see what time he wanted me to pick him up, I got no reply, and guessed that Barbara and he must have arranged to do something else, and that he’d forgotten to tell me, but, when I phoned him up again, the following Saturday, I was shocked to find that his line was dead, which I didn’t understand at all, and turned to Jill in astonishment and said.
‘Did you know that David’s phone has been disconnected?’, and was shocked to hear her say, somewhat uneasily.
‘Yes, he’s gone back to Crawley.’
‘Gone back to Crawley?’ I said in astonishment, ‘What on earth for?’, and after a pause, she continued, somewhat hesitantly.
‘The Crawley branch found that they couldn’t do without him.’
And I couldn’t believe it.
Why would David have left Eastleigh and gone back to Crawley without telling me?
I had no idea.
And why hadn’t Jill told me that David had gone back to Crawley, when he’d told her, instead of waiting for me to ask?
Why the secrecy?
And why had Barbara looked daggers drawn at David when we’d gone to their house for dinner?
And why had Jill behaved as if David and she were intimately involved and she was besotted with him?
And why had David not told Barbara that we’d moved to Eastleigh in August?
And why had Barbara been so shocked to hear that we had?
And the penny suddenly dropped and I couldn’t believe it.
Because Barbara had concluded, correctly it seemed, that David and Jill were carrying on together, and that he’d moved to Eastleigh so that he could continue to see her, and so, when he’d returned to the house after visiting the paper shop, she’d taxed him about it, and he’d tried to deny it, but she hadn’t been convinced, and so she’d invited us round for dinner to see for herself how they behaved in each other’s company, and Jill had shown him up completely, and so, as soon as we had left she’d read him the Riot Act, and carted him off to Crawley the very next day, which meant that Jill had been carrying on with David behind my back for three years and had lied when she’d said that he’d been transferred by the bank.
And, when you came to think about it, what were the chances that a branch of Lloyds bank would coincidentally transfer one member of staff to a small village, eighty miles away, at exactly the same time, as another member of staff had gone there, of her own accord?
So Jill had told me lies about her carrying on with Michael behind my back for three years, followed by her telling me lies about her carrying on with David behind my back for three years, followed by her telling me lies about her carrying on with Vic behind my back for a year, but now, she wanted me to believe her when she said that she hated Vic, and wanted to stay with me and have me bring the baby up as mine, and so the question was: could I?
And it seemed to me that I could for three reasons.
Firstly because she actually was staying with me so that I could bring the baby up as mine.
And secondly because she knew that by staying with me and depriving Vic of his baby, she was breaking his heart, which you wouldn’t have thought she could have done to somebody she cared about at all, let alone to somebody she actually loved, which made it clear that she didn’t care about him at all.
And thirdly, because, she knew that once she got my name on the baby’s birth certificate she wouldn’t be able to go off with Vic, without the baby’s birth certificate becoming an incriminating document that would reveal her adultery to her child and everybody else, but, despite all these reassurances, I still thought it might be a good idea for me to see how they behaved when they were together, and so decided to invite Vic round for a visit.
I was aware that Jill had said that she never wanted to see him again, but I hadn’t taken her seriously for thinking that she’d been exaggerating for effect, and so, when I got home from work, I said.
‘I know you said that you never wanted to see Vic again, but I was wondering if you would mind inviting him round for a chat tomorrow evening, so that we can see how he feels about things,’ and was shocked to see her beam at me with delight and say.
‘Oh, what a good idea! He’s staying with his parents at the moment, so, I’ll go down and see him this evening, and ask him,’ and I couldn’t believe it.
She hadn’t just exaggerated, when she’d told me that she never wanted to see him again, she’d told me a bare-faced lie!
She wasn’t just prepared to see him again, she was utterly delighted at the idea, which wasn’t very reassuring.
She’d said that she hated him, but that didn’t seem to be true either, and I looked forward to being able to work out the truth for myself, when he came round to see us, but discovered when Jill came back from seeing him that I wasn’t going to get the chance, as she said, apologetically.
‘I’m afraid that Vic has refused to come round to see us. I think he’s scared of what you might say to him,’ which I didn’t understand at all.
What difference did it make what Vic wanted?
If Jill had told him to come round and see us, he would have.
She was the boss.
He did whatever he was told, which meant that she hadn’t told him to come round, in spite of my having asked her to, and I couldn’t help feeling sick at her disloyalty.
She’d let him do what he wanted, instead of making him to do what I wanted.
She’d put his wishes before mine.
She’d sided with him against me.
And as if that bit of treachery wasn’t bad enough, the next week things got even worse, when she came home from seeing her brother, and said regretfully.
‘I’m afraid I’ve had to tell my brother, that the baby is Vic's’, and seeing the look of horror on my face, added, hastily, ‘but he’s promised that he won’t tell anybody else’, and I felt so sick at her treachery that I had to rush upstairs and sit on the edge of the bed with my head down between my knees, trying to cope with the nausea, thinking I was going to die.
How could I bring the baby up as mine, now that she’d told her brother it was Vic’s?
How could she have treated the baby and me so badly?
I had no idea.
She’d stabbed us both in the back.
It was utterly, utterly horrendous!
She seemed to have no time for us at all, but then, she seemed to have even less for Vic, and the next week things didn’t get any better, when she came home from seeing Vic and said, in a concerned tone of voice.
'Vic has had to tell his family that the baby is his, and his mother burst into tears, and asked him how I could be so wicked as to deprive her of her baby's baby, for which she'd been waiting so longingly for years.'
And I couldn’t believe it.
Vic’s mother was actually condoning her son having committed adultery with another man’s wife, behind his back, and was even trying to benefit from it herself.
What sort of morality was that?
And why was Jill sounding so concerned about it?
Did she feel guilty?
It looked like it.
So what did that mean?
It seemed to mean that she was worried about the grief she was causing Vic’s mother, and was thinking of leaving me and going off with him, for her sake.
So how could I find out the truth?
There seemed to be only one thing I could do: pretend that I’d met somebody else, and see if she got upset.
If she did, as I hoped, it would mean that she didn’t want to lose me because she wanted to stay with me, because she loved me more than Vic.
If she didn’t get upset, as I feared, it would mean that she didn’t mind losing me because she wanted to leave me and go off with Vic, because she loved him more than me.
After lunch on Sunday, Jill asked me if I would like to go for a relaxing drive through the beautiful Hampshire countryside to Alton, and I said that I would be delighted, and as we cruised along the tree-lined lanes past Winchester, I suddenly realized that it was the perfect opportunity for me to put my clever, little plan into action, and waited until we reached the quiet stretch of dual carriageway between Winchester and Alresford, where I knew she would be able to listen to me, without being too distracted by the demands of driving and said, in a suitably apologetic tone of voice.
'I hope you don't mind my telling you this, but, I've met somebody else and we've become rather attached,’ and sat back in my seat to see if she got upset, hoping that she would, but fearing that she wouldn’t, when I got the shock of my life as she swung round on me and hollered.
'What?' which I didn’t understand at all.
Why was she hollering?
Was she annoyed?
It sounded like it.
I hadn't expected her to get annoyed.
And why was she asking me to repeat myself? What I’d said hadn’t exactly been difficult to understand.
'I've met somebody else and we've become rather attached,’ I said, nervously.
'When?' she yelled back in a fury.
And I couldn't believe it.
I hadn’t expected a thunderous third degree.
I hadn’t expected any sort of third degree at all.
I’d thought she would either have got upset, or not.
Now I was going to have to rack my brain to elaborate on my story to find answers to her questions, or I would end up looking completely stupid.
'A year ago,’ I concocted.
'A year?' she screamed in horror.
'Yes,’ I replied, even more nervously.
'Who is she?'
'A student in one of my night-school classes,’ I invented.
'What's her name?' she asked.
'Good grief!' I thought. 'This is becoming really difficult. What does she want to know her name for?'
'Yvonne,' I replied.
'How often do you see her?'
'Three times a week.'
'At her house.'
'Where does she live?'
'Hell's teeth!' I thought. 'This is becoming impossible. I’m never going to be able to keep up'
'In Southampton,’ I fabricated.
'In the road off St Mary's Street leading to the Gas Works, where I used to work,’ I said, creatively, trying hard to sound convincing.
'Right!' she said venomously. 'In that case we're going down there right now!' and my heart practically stopped beating. My story was on the verge of total collapse.
'What for?' I asked weakly.
'I've been put through hell, for what I've done,’ she asserted venomously, 'so now I'm going to put her through it.'
And I was totally bewildered.
Who'd put her through hell?
I’d agreed to let her stay and had done everything she’d asked.
Now I was feeling really sick.
I didn't want to have to go tearing off all over the county, with Jill in a mood like this.
'She won't be in,’ I said, desperately.
'She visits her parents on Sundays.'
'Well I'm going down there anyway,’ she replied 'to see where she lives.'
And I gave up.
My clever little plan had completely failed.
I hadn't found out if she felt attached to me at all.
I seemed to have made her feel distinctly un-attached, instead!
And I couldn't believe how futile all my efforts to discover the truth always turned out to be.
It was utterly mortifying.
It was as if I was surrounded by a horde of hysterical demons, who spent all their time taking great delight in tormenting me by rendering all my efforts futile.
But where was God, whose Will I was supposed to be doing?
I didn't know.
He seemed to have disappeared, which horrifying prospect I found even more worrying.
'There's no need to go anywhere,’ I said, feebly. 'I made the story up. It's not true.'
'What?' she screamed.
'I made it up!' I repeated. 'To see if you would get upset.'
And to my utter amazement, instead of her being pleased to know that I hadn't met somebody else, she was even more annoyed, as she slammed on the brakes and brought the car to a sudden halt and bawled, venomously.
'Get out!' and I looked at her in total disbelief.
'Get out!' she repeated belligerently. 'You can walk home.'
And I got out and she drove off and left me standing on the side of the deserted dual-carriageway halfway between Winchester and Alresford feeling totally abandoned, lost and alone, deserted by both God and man, and I burst into tears, which I didn't understand either.
Why was I crying?
I didn't ever cry. I didn't believe in it. I thought it was immature and childish.
Was I going mad?
I had to be.
And so, with tears streaming down my face, I stumbled half-blindly across the dual-carriageway to the other side and waited on the grass verge motionless like a statue, for her to come back, feeling totally paralysed.
And to my utter relief ten minutes later, she returned, and stopped and let me get back in, and we set off for home with her looking just as fuming as she’d been when she'd kicked me out.
Why was that?
I didn't know.
What was going on?
I had no idea and couldn't help feeling utterly sick.
All my efforts to protect my dear, little baby’s welfare, by ensuring that its mother was happy and free from stress seemed to be doomed to failure.
Instead of reducing her stress I’d increased it, and as if that disturbing experience wasn’t bad enough, the next week I had another one.
We went to the cinema to see "Women in Love", which contained rather a lot of scenes of abandoned, unprotected sex between unmarried couples, and as we left the cinema, to go back to the car park afterwards, Jill turned to me and said in a tone of utter disgust.
'Well that was pretty stupid wasn't it? The idea that you can have unprotected sex, without getting pregnant! It's marvellous how some people can get away with it, isn't it?' And I couldn't believe it.
How could she say anything so appalling?
She was saying that it was marvellous to have unprotected and not get pregnant, as if to have unprotected sex and get pregnant was terrible.
She was suggesting that our lovely little baby was some sort of a curse!
How could she say such a thing?
I had no idea.
She was a monster!
And then I suddenly realised that she’d passed over the fact that her unprotected sex had been adultery as if it was of no consequence at all.
What sort of morality was that?
She was totally depraved.
Where was the sweet and pure young lady of class and distinction I’d married?
Lost and gone forever it seemed.
And as difficult as I was finding it, as a school-teacher, to cope with being married to somebody who was so depraved, I couldn’t help thinking that it was just as well that I hadn’t become a priest, or I would have found it even more difficult, and suddenly realized what a weird thought it was for me to have, because the reason I’d failed to get accepted for training as a priest had been for that very reason, because the wife of my vicar, Tom Pritchard, at St David’s in Exeter, in 1964, had been similarly depraved.
She’d asked him for a divorce so that she could marry a Canon from the Cathedral with whom she’d been carrying on, behind his back, for months, which he’d found utterly horrendous, so that when I’d told him that I approved of “Honest to God”, a new book on Christianity written by John Robinson, the Bishop of Woolwich, that approved of divorce, he’d been utterly horrified, and had told me that he thought it was “the work of the devil”, and had refused to recommend me for training, as a result, and so now, it seemed, we’d become fellow sufferers, which, at the time, I would never have believed possible, for thinking that the sweet and pure young lady of class and distinction that I’d married was a paragon of virtue, who would never have dreamt of doing anything so degenerate in a million years, despite the fact that, unbeknown to me, she was already doing it with Michael.
In the light of Jill’s having brought up the subject of her adultery I thought it would be the perfect opportunity for me to ask her how she’d ever come to commit it, and so, asked her in a particularly pleasant tone of voice.
‘So how did it come about that you and Vic had sex then?’
‘We only had it, once!’, she blurted out defensively, and I couldn’t help wondering where I’d heard that story before.
‘OK,’ I said considerately, ‘but I didn’t ask you how many times you had it. I asked you how it happened, and there was a pause before she said, stutteringly.
‘It happened whilst you were away on the teachers’ residential sailing course at Calshot, for a week at the end of August. Vic kept coming round to see me and he badgered me into it. It was his idea not mine, which is why I hate him,’ which I didn’t believe for a minute.
Vic wouldn’t have dreamt of badgering Jill into doing anything, let alone into having sex with him.
Not that it really mattered, because I couldn’t help thinking that it was largely my fault that it had happened, anyway, because I’d done everything I could to encourage her to feel free to leave me and go off with him, although I had to admit that I hadn’t expected her to have sex with him before she left, so I let it drop, but the next week the conversation led to something happening that was so horrendous, I would never have believed it was possible.
It started with Jill coming back from her monthly visit to the doctors’ and saying excitedly.
'The doctor says that the baby will be born at the beginning of April.'
'Oh right,’ I said, feeling equally excited, ‘that’s nice to know’, and the next day, on my way to work, out of nothing more than idle curiosity, I started to count backwards nine months from April just to see where it got me, only to find, to my surprise, that it got me to July, which I didn't understand at all.
How could Jill have got pregnant in July, when she hadn't had sex with Vic until August?
She couldn't, and so when I got back home, I said.
'Are you sure the doctor said that the baby will be born at the beginning of April?'
'Yes,’ she said, without hesitation.
'But he couldn’t have,’ I said in confusion.
'Why not?' she asked, unsuspectingly.
'Because if you count backwards nine months from April you get to July, but you couldn't have got pregnant in July because you didn't have sex with Vic until the end of August, and her face dropped as she said, hastily.
'Oh! The doctor must have got it wrong then,’ which wasn’t the answer I was looking for, and said, impatiently.
'The doctor wouldn’t have got it wrong. It’s you who might have got it wrong. Are you sure he said April?'
'Yes,’ she said, unhappily.
'But that means that the baby can't be Vic's then, doesn’t it?' I said in total disbelief.
'Yes,’ she agreed, uncertainly, and I couldn't help feeling irritated at her lack of enthusiasm.
Did she want the baby to be Vic's?
I wouldn't have thought so, in the light of her wanting me to bring it up as mine.
'But that means it must be mine then, doesn’t it? ' I said, relief growing like a storm.
'Yes,’ she said weakly.
'But how can that be?' I asked, in amazed jubilation, we haven’t had sex for two and a half years, have we?’
‘No’, she agreed, weakly, and then the whole fantastic truth suddenly hit me like a thunder-bolt, as I remembered that it had been in July that I’d got my big stiff erection and pushed it up between her legs from behind, as she lay next to me in bed, to see if she was interested in having sex, which she probably remembered only too well, for having been so disgusted about it at the time.
‘It was in July that I pushed my penis up between your legs, wasn’t it?’ I said.
‘Yes,’ she agreed, reluctantly.
‘And you bawled me out, for being so presumptuous,’ I continued.
‘Yes,’ she continued.
‘So do you remember that conversation we had with the family doctor when we were in Exeter?’ I asked.
‘Yes,’ she replied, even more reluctantly.
'He told us that his niece had become pregnant despite being a virgin, because her boyfriend had pushed his penis up between her legs, without actually penetrating and his seeds had swum up inside her on their own, didn't he?’
‘Yes,’ she agreed, unhappily.
‘So that must be what happened to us then, mustn't it? My seeds must have swum up inside you on their own, mustn't they?'
'Yes,’ she agreed, even more unhappily, and I couldn't believe it.
The nightmare was over. The baby was mine. No more shame. No more disgrace. No more whispering behind my back. And I felt utterly ecstatic.
And as the days went by I felt even more so.
One day became two.
Two days became three.
My rapture was unconfined.
Jill was carrying a dear little baby and it was all mine!
And nobody could say that it wasn't!
And nobody could take it away from me.
And then on the third day Jill very kindly decided to burst the bubble of my euphoria and tell me the truth, and bring me hurtling back to Earth with a crash in a state of total desolation, heartbreak and grief, as she said, sheepishly.
'The baby isn't yours. It's Vic's. We had sex twice. The first time was in July in the guest room when you had the flu and you wanted to sleep on your own,’ and, seeing the look of horror on my face, blurted out defensively.
'And Vic was utterly disgusted when he heard that you poked me with your penis!' and I couldn't believe it, and found myself rushing upstairs to the bedroom again, to sit on the edge of the bed with my head down between my knees, racked with nausea, feeling as if I were going to die.
How could she have had sex with Vic in one room, whilst I was lying ill in bed in the next?
I didn't know.
It was beyond belief.
Whilst I'd been passing out, delirious with a fever, fondly believing that my devoted wife, Jill, and my good friend, Vic, were sitting downstairs, sharing my pain, they were actually upstairs, exploiting it.
It was unbelievable.
And how could Jill have admitted it?
Why hadn’t she said that she’d had it whilst I was out of the house sailing?
I was out of it enough!
Didn't she realize how depraved it had been for her to have had sex with Vic behind my back, literally, in one room, whilst I was lying ill in bed in the next, and then, actually to tell me about it, as if it was quite acceptable?
Apparently not, and I just could not believe that anybody could be that depraved.
And how could she have let me walk around in ecstasy for three days thinking that the baby was mine when she knew that it wasn't?
I had no idea.
Didn't she realize how inhuman it was?
Apparently not, and I just could not believe that anybody could be that inhuman.
She was just too utterly degenerate, for words.
And why had she told me that Vic was disgusted to hear that I'd poked her with my penis, instead of feeling overwhelmed with guilt to think that she’d let him poke her with his?
She was unspeakable!
And as I sat on the edge of the bed racked with nausea, I felt as if my life was draining out of me.
Nothing I was doing to protect my baby’s welfare was working.
Instead of its environment becoming more harmonious, it was becoming less harmonious.
Instead of its parents becoming more devoted, they were becoming less devoted.
Instead of its mother’s stress-level going down, it was going up, and if I were to kick her out, it would go up even more.
Nothing I was doing was working.
My baby was doomed.
God had forsaken us.
And I felt as if I were going to die.
As the weeks passed by and my disgust faded, and the day of the baby's arrival came closer, and Jill became happier, and our relationship improved, I started to wonder if there was anything I could do to make it improve even faster, and realized that there was one very simple thing I could do, and wondered why I hadn't thought of it before.
I could ask Jill if she would mind our starting to make-love again, and realized that the reason I hadn’t asked her before was because I wasn’t used to getting a favourable reply, especially after her response to my last request, in July, when she’d been horrified at the idea, but, now that it was for the baby’s sake, I guessed she would be more interested, and said.
'Do you think it would be OK for us to start making-love again? It's important for the baby’s welfare that its parents become as close as possible, isn't it?' and was shocked to hear her say, somewhat sheepishly.
‘I don't think so. It might harm the baby,’ and I couldn't believe it.
How could it harm the baby?
It couldn’t, as far as I knew, but thought I should get an expert opinion before taking issue with her about it, and so, went to see the doctor to find out what he thought.
Once we started discussing the problem I thought I’d better let him know that Vic was the baby’s biological father, to see if he thought it would cause a problem with the birth, but was pleased to hear him say that it wouldn’t, and then asked him if it would be OK for Jill and I to have sex, and was pleased to hear him say that it wouldn’t do the baby any harm at all, and went home to tell her the good news, expecting her to think it was good news too, only to discover to my surprise that she didn’t, but that she turned on me like a virago, and hollered.
‘Why did you tell the doctor that the baby was Vic's?' as if it was the most horrendous thing she could ever have imagined in a million years, and I couldn't believe it.
What was wrong with telling the doctor?
He couldn’t care less who the biological father was, and he certainly wasn’t going to go around telling anybody else, unlike her brother who’d already told his wife, despite having promised that he wouldn’t.
I had no idea, and couldn’t help feeling irritated.
‘Because he’ll have to supervise the birth,’ I said, ‘and so will need to know who the baby’s biological father is in case Vic’s family has a genetic defect.’
‘Of course Vic’s family haven’t got a genetic defect!,’ she yelled back.
‘As if she would know!’, I thought, but didn’t bother to argue.
There was no way I was going to take a chance on my baby being in danger of suffering from anything at its birth, whether Jill liked it or not, and as if that upsetting interaction hadn’t been bad enough, the next week there was a much worse one, when Jill came back from seeing Vic and made the most unbelievably disgusting remark I’d ever heard in the whole of my life, as she said, with a pathetic, little laugh.
'Vic thinks he's a super-stud because he made a woman pregnant the first time he ever had sex, and thinks it's like getting a hole-in-one at golf the first time you ever hit the ball,’ and I could not believe it.
What sort of a filthy comment was that for a sweet and pure young lady of class and distinction to make about the fact that she’d committed adultery?
I had no idea.
She was totally depraved!
Was there no end to her depravity?
And why did she think it was funny?
Was she starting to feel pleased about the idea that Vic had made her pregnant?
It sounded like it.
So what did that mean?
It seemed to mean that she’d become more attached to him that she was to me, which meant that she should leave me and go off with him for the baby’s sake, so how could I discover the truth, and realized that the answer was simple, and wondered why I hadn’t thought of it before?
All I had to do was ask her to stop seeing him, and see if she minded.
If she did, it would mean that she was more attached to him than she was to me, and I would have to let her go, as sorry as I would be to lose my lovely little baby.
And if she didn’t mind, it would mean that she was more attached to me than she was to him, and I would be able to let her stay.
The truth was that I’d only agreed to let her see him in the first place to see if she wanted to, but I knew the answer to that question now, and needed to find the answer to a different one, and so, when I got home from work, I said.
‘I was wondering if you mind stop seeing Vic?' and was amazed to hear her say without hesitation in a tone of utter contempt.
'No, I wouldn't mind at all. I've only been seeing him as it is, for his benefit, because I felt sorry for him,’ and I couldn't believe it.
It seemed almost too good to be true.
All my problems were over.
Jill didn’t want to see Vic anymore and was quite contemptuous of the fact that she ever had.
She had no time for him at all.
And my spirits rose immensely, and we started to get on much better, until I came home from work, a week later.
I parked the car in the drive and went into the house through the back door and crossed the kitchen into the hall, and found Jill talking to Vic so vivaciously on the phone, that you would have thought she was utterly devoted, and I could not believe it.
How could she be such a complete and utter liar?
I had no idea, and went totally berserk and screamed.
'What do you think you're doing? I thought you said you were not going to see him any more!’, and her reply didn’t help calm things down at all, as she replaced the receiver and started to blabber pathetically.
‘It wasn’t my fault! The phone rang and I just picked it up and it was him. I didn't know it was going to be him, did I? But then, when I found that it was, it was too late for me to do anything about it, because I couldn't put the phone down on him, could I, because it would have been rude?’ and I could not believe that anybody could say anything so utterly and completely stupid and screamed even louder.
'Well you're going to have to learn how to put the phone down on him and be rude, then, aren't you or there won't be a phone for you to answer, because I will have it taken out? Do you understand that?'
'Yes,’ she said meekly and I stalked off unable to believe that anybody could talk such rubbish, and after that everything went along quite swimmingly, again, for another two weeks until one evening in the middle of a congenial and animated conversation we were having about the arrival of the baby, she let something slip, that she could have got from Vic only that day, and I said in a deceptively affable tone of voice.
'When did he tell you that?'
'This afternoon,’ she replied, without thinking, and I went completely ballistic and screamed at her.
'I thought you said you were not going to see him any more?' and, as if I wasn’t fuming enough already, she made things even worse by talking even more rubbish than she had the time before, as she spluttered inanely.
'I didn't actually see him. I only spoke to him,' and I bawled at her even louder.
'But you're not supposed to speak to him either, are you?' when she made things even worse by saying, even more inanely.
'Well I didn't actually speak to him. I just picked up the phone and he spoke to me,’ and I could not believe it.
She wasn’t just inane. She was totally insane.
It was like talking to a complete idiot.
And I gave up for realizing that there was no point in my trying to talk to her, and grabbed her by the arm and dragged her unresistingly to the front door and opened it and pushed her out of the house, yelling.
'You're totally mad! There’s no point in my trying to talk to you at all! It's like talking to a lunatic, but if you like talking to Vic so much then you can go down to the phone box and phone him up and ask him to come over and pick you up and you can talk to him all the time!'
And slammed the door and went back into the house, feeling completely relieved.
All my problems were over.
If she couldn't stop talking to Vic, despite having sworn to me that that she would, then she obviously couldn’t give him up and must be much more attached to him than she was to me, and so, should definitely be with him for the baby’s sake.
And I couldn’t believe it.
I’d finally managed to sort everything out at last.
The poor little baby was finally going to get the father it deserved, but, a quarter of an hour later it suddenly occurred to me that I’d better just make sure that she had gone and went to the front door and opened it, only to find to my horror that she hadn’t, but was sitting on the concrete steps, out in the cold, curled up in a ball, crying her eyes out, like a waif from the storm, looking completely devastated, and I could not believe it.
What on earth was wrong with her?
Why hadn’t she gone?
It was Vic she wanted to be with, so why was she still with me?
I had no idea, but I could see that I couldn’t leave her sitting on the doorstep, in the cold and the dark, in the middle of the winter, when she was seven months pregnant, and gave up and let her back into the house, exclaiming, furiously.
'I'm fed up with this. I want Vic round her tomorrow evening, and I want everything sorted out or you can go, and I don't want him ringing you up here, any more. Is that clear?'
'Yes,’ she said meekly, looking completely grief-stricken and devastated.
The next evening Vic came round to be apologetic, remorseful and heart-broken, I had thought, but found to my surprise that he wasn’t, but was unapologetic, assertive and quite happy, as he announced, bluntly.
'If I'd been married to Jill, I would have kicked her out,’ which I didn’t understand at all.
Why had he said that?
Jill didn’t want to hear that.
She didn’t want to be kicked out.
She’d cried her eyes out, the night before, when I’d tried to kick her out and I looked at her, expecting to see her jump to my defence and say, irately.
“Really! Well it's a good job I'm not married to you, then, isn't it, you obnoxious little worm, but am married to somebody who is kind, caring, and forgiving, who actually loves me, unlike you?”
But she didn’t.
She just sat there, looking at me pitifully, as if she had all the problems of the world on her shoulders, and I couldn't help feeling sick.
Why hadn’t she stuck up for me?
She was grateful to me for letting her stay, wasn't she?
I would have thought so. So why wasn’t she saying so?
Why was she leaving me to twist in the wind, the butt of Vic's disdain?
I didn't know, but I certainly didn't like it, and I couldn’t help wondering what was going on, and then things got even worse when Vic looked up and said, proudly.
'I didn't see anything wrong with my having sex with Jill. I considered it an honour and a privilege. We had it three times altogether, although the first time wasn't emotionally significant.'
And I couldn't believe it.
Did I really want to hear the gory details of Vic’s sex-life, with my wife?
I didn't think so.
And what did he mean by: “the first time wasn’t emotionally significant”?
That was charming that was.
He wasn't just telling me that he'd had sex with my wife, behind my back, but that he hadn't enjoyed it very much.
Talk about adding insult to injury!
It was mind-boggling.
And I looked at Jill thinking she would be bound to lose her temper with him now.
Only to find once again, that she didn't, but was looking at him in disbelief, as she said.
'What do you mean you didn't find sex with me emotionally significant?'
‘Because it wasn’t’, he said, unapologetically, and I couldn’t believe it.
They were actually taking time off to discuss the details of their sex-life, as if I wasn’t there!
What the hell was going on?
I had no idea.
I’d thought we’d invited Vic round to so that Jill could tell him that she wasn’t going to see him anymore, but she hadn’t said a word.
And then things got worse still as Vic looked up and said, quite jubilantly.
'Jill and I couldn't believe our luck when we heard that she was pregnant, for realizing that it was just about the only thing that would ever get us together.’
And I was completely stunned.
Had he gone mad?
Since when had Jill thought she’d been lucky to get pregnant?
She’d sounded as if she’d felt anything but lucky, when we’d come out of the cinema after seeing “Women in Love”.
And how had it got them together?
It hadn’t. It had driven them apart.
She’d dumped him for me, and I couldn’t get rid of her, try as I might, and once she’d got my name on the baby’s birth certificate she wouldn’t be able to leave me, even if she wanted to, without the baby’s false birth certificate with my name on it, hanging around her neck, for the rest of her life, as evidence of her adultery, and I couldn’t see her wanting that.
And I looked at Jill, expecting her to turn on him in a fury and say, contemptuously.
“What's the matter with you, you drivelling, little nutcase? Are you mad? It hasn't got us together. It's driven us apart. I'm never going to see you again. That’s why you’re here, so that we can drill that simple little fact into your thick head.”
Only to find, once again, that she said nothing, but continued to look at me as if she’d been struck dumb, and I could not believe it.
What was going on?
I had no idea.
It was completely mind-boggling, and then things got worse still as Vic looked at me contemptuously, and said superciliously.
'I knew you weren't right for Jill from the moment I first saw you,’ and I felt even more dumfounded.
What did he mean by that?
If I wasn't right for her, who was?
It was me she was with, despite my efforts to persuade her to leave.
And I looked at her, once again, expecting to see her put him straight in no uncertain terms, only to find, that she still had nothing to say.
It was totally weird.
She seemed to have gone deaf, dumb and stupid.
She seemed to be incapable of sticking up for herself, which was nothing like her at all, especially where Vic was concerned.
She spent all her time bossing him about.
And then things went from bad to worse as Vic addressed her in the most solemn, grave and reproving tones I'd ever heard, as if he were the pope handing down a mortal admonition upon the most heinous of sinners.
'What you are doing is not worthy of you,’ he pronounced, and I couldn't believe it.
Why was he sounding so reproving?
What was she doing that was so bad?
I had no idea and looked at Jill, expecting her to turn on him in a fury and holler.
“Who the hell do you think you're talking to, you jumped up little squirt? I couldn't give a monkey's cuss what you think. You can keep your sanctimonious sermons to yourself. You're not my moral keeper. You're nobody and I'm completely fed up listening to you, so you can go, and I don't want ever to see you again, you pontificating, self-righteous, little jerk!”, and flounce off out of the room and leave him, to depart, mortified, grief-stricken and devastated, completely rejected, abandoned and unwanted.
But she didn't.
She just continued to sit there, looking sick and saying nothing, and I couldn't believe it.
What on earth was wrong with her?
I didn’t know.
What was happening?
I had no idea.
Vic and she seemed to be talking to each other in code.
It was as if I wasn't there.
At which point Vic gave up and left, and Jill saw him to the front door, and the completely useless meeting was over, and Jill brightened up considerably, unlike me, who felt too undermined for words.
What had I just witnessed?
I had no idea.
Jill had not taken issue with Vic over anything.
She’d told me that she wanted to stay with me, but hadn’t disagreed with him when he’d said that I shouldn’t let her.
She’d told me that she’d had sex with him unwillingly, but hadn’t disagreed with him when he’d suggested that she’d had it willingly.
She’d told me that she’d had sex with him twice, but hadn’t disagreed with him when he’d said she’d had it three times.
She’d told me that she’d felt unlucky to get pregnant, but hadn’t disagreed with him when he’d said that she’d felt lucky.
She’d told me that her pregnancy had driven them apart, but hadn’t disagreed with him when he’d said that it had brought them together.
She’d told me that she thought I was the right person for her, but hadn’t disagreed with him when he’d said that I wasn’t.
She’d told me that she thought she was doing the right thing by staying with me but hadn’t disagreed with him when he’d said that she wasn’t.
She’d let him get away with contradicting everything she’d said.
I had no idea, but I couldn’t help feeling totally undermined and completely knocked off-balance, as if the ground were moving under my feet.
I would be walking back home through the estate from the bus-stop, with its neat rows of front-gardens, filled with green lawns, decorative bushes, and colourful flowers and suddenly find that I was seeing everything in an enhanced light as if I were looking through rose-coloured spectacles and feeling overwhelmed with nostalgia and thinking fondly of the "good old days" when I'd been happy but hadn't realized it, when the sun had always shone and the rain had never fallen, as if I were a hundred years old looking back to my youth.
But I wasn't a hundred years old.
I was only thirty-four.
And I wasn't looking back to my youth.
I was looking back only six months to the days before I’d heard that Jill was pregnant.
How could I be feeling nostalgic about a time that was so recent, and, if it came to that, how could I be feeling nostalgic at all?
I’d always thought nostalgia was a sign of senility, to be avoided at all costs.
Was I going mad?
It looked like it.
But as the memory of the meeting started to fade and the day of the baby's arrival got nearer, I began to feel better, as Jill and I grew closer as our excitement over the baby’s progress increased, as her tummy got bigger and we could feel the baby inside kicking harder and I started to think that perhaps, everything was going to turn out alright after all, until one afternoon, as we were standing side by side at the kitchen sink by the back door, doing the washing up, engaged excitedly in discussing the latest developments, she let slip a remark that she could have got from Vic only that day, and I could not believe it.
After everything she'd said.
And after everything she'd done.
She was still seeing him!
She was utterly degenerate!
And I felt so sick at the sight of her standing so close to me, that I instinctively gave her a shove, to remove her from my presence, only to see her go tottering sideways, and bump into one of the flimsy panels set in the decorative leaded window, and one of the small segments fell out onto the doorstep, with a tinkle of broken glass and I could not believe what I’d done.
I'd struck a woman.
I'd never struck a woman before in my life, and would never have thought I was capable of striking one at all, and certainly not my own wife, and even less when she was pregnant, but I had!
How could I have done anything so terrible?
I had no idea, but had no time to dwell on it, because I felt so sick at her treachery, that I had to rush upstairs to the bedroom and sit on the edge of the bed with my head down between my knees, to let the nausea and the revulsion go through me like a dose of diarrhoea, yet again.
Was the deceit never going to end?
It didn't look like it.
Would I ever be able to survive?
Location: Southampton UK
"ELIZABETH GWEN 27.4.70" in Chit-Chat.
Re: Elizabeth Gwen 27.4.70 by George Parker
« Reply #347 on: August 09, 2014, 07:30 PM »
As the day of the baby’s birth became imminent, I started to realize what a uniquely ecstatic and transcendently joyful experience it was going to be, and why Vic might have sounded so reproving when he’d told Jill, that what she was doing was not worthy of her.
He’d been referring to the fact that she was going to share uniquely ecstatic and transcendently joyful experience of the birth of his first-born child with me, instead of with him, despite knowing how devastated he would be if she did.
And I could also see that this might mean that she’d told me the truth, when she’d said that the only reason she’d been talking to him had been because she’d felt sorry for him, which meant that I needn’t worry about her talking to him anymore, because it would be for the same reason.
And I guessed that the fact that she’d chosen to share the experience with me instead of with him, also, meant that she was much more attached to me, that she was to him, and felt elated to think that everything was going to turn out for the best after all.
Before enjoying the uniquely ecstatic and transcendently joyful experience of the birth of your firstborn child, however, comes the uniquely delightful experience of purchasing all its baby things, brand new from your local most upscale department store.
A pleasure I found so poignant in March 1970, that I can still remember it fifty years later, as if it happened only yesterday.
And so on the following Saturday afternoon, we made our way to Tyrrell and Greens, in Southampton, (later to become John Lewis), where my mum’s sister, used to work as a waitress in the Barova Restaurant in the 1930’s, where my Mum and my Nan used to take me for tea every afternoon from the year I was born in 1936, to the year we were bombed out of our house at 6 Radcliffe Road, in 1940, when the Nazis very kindly blew up the Gas Works across the road, where I later worked as a Quality Control Analyst in the chemistry lab in 1955, with the manager Don Clark, my dad’s best friend from Taunton school.
It had a very fashionable baby department, and we were able to find everything we needed including:
1. The quaint, little, traditional, rocking, wicker crib.
2. The cute little sets of embroidered sheets, blankets, pillows and crib-mattress.
3. The colourful, little sets of towelling baby-grows, nappies and bath-towels.
4. The bottles, teats, and sterilizers.
5. The bottles of oil and tins of powder.
6. The quaint little moulded plastic bath, and last but not least.
7. The big maroon high wheeled pram, with its gleaming, snow-white interior, ivory handle and big curved gleaming chrome springs.
Whilst I felt radiantly delighted, as I selected all the items, and dealt with the shop-assistants and paid the bills, I became a bit worried to see that Jill didn’t seem to be sharing my delight, and wondered what was wrong with her.
Had I done something to upset her?
I hoped not.
She didn’t seem to be enjoying the occasion at all.
On the contrary she seemed to be feeling quite worried which rather took the shine off things for me, but, once we got back home, and started to set up the nursery, in readiness for our forthcoming bundle of joy’s arrival, I was pleased to see that she cheered up considerably and started to feel as delighted as I.
As the momentous day crept closer and the baby started to make its presence felt even more energetically, by kicking our hands so hard that it actually made us jump, I was pleased to see that we came to feel closer still.
When the due month of April finally arrived, we couldn’t believe how slowly time could go, and although I was aware how much ones state of mind can affect ones perception I would never have thought it was possible for it to affect it so much.
Every hour seemed like a day and every day seemed like a week, and then, just as we were almost passing out with impatience, we received the appalling news that we were going to have to wait yet another week, because the baby was going to be late, and we just could not believe it.
‘Another week!,’ I said to Jill, in desperation.
‘Yes, I know,’ she replied, ‘I don’t think I’ll make it.’
‘Me neither,’ I agreed, and we started to find that the extra wait practically drove us round the bend.
Every hour seemed like a week and every day seemed like a year, and the whole seven days, seemed like a lifetime, until finally, on the Sunday evening, Jill suddenly looked up in shocked surprise and said the long anticipated words.
'Ooo! That hurt. I think the pains have started,’ and I could not believe it.
The momentous day, when all our most heartfelt dreams were finally going to come true, had arrived!
And I went to the phone and rang the midwife to let her know that the pains had stared.
'OK,’ she said, ‘Start timing the contractions and when they are coming every four minutes ring me back.’
’OK’, I said, and replaced the receiver, and looked at Jill expecting to see her making her way up the stairs to get on the bed and lay down, before she fell down, only to find to my surprise that she was still wandering around in the kitchen as if she thought she could walk around forever, and I said, in concern.
‘Don’t you think you’d better go upstairs and get on the bed while you can still walk? I don’t want to have to carry you up there.’
‘I’m OK,’ she said, blithely. ‘Nothing’s happening yet.’
‘But something soon will be,’ I said, and started to herd her up the stairs and into the bedroom, like a recalcitrant steer in a round-up, and said.
‘You’d better lay on the bed or the contractions will knock you over, once they start,’ only to hear her say imperiously.
'I can't lay down yet! I've got to go to the toilet first!’ and I watched her, in disbelief, as she sauntered through the doorway, along the landing to the bathroom, thinking she had all the time in the world, only to see her suddenly sink to her knees, in a state of total shock, and I couldn't help laughing.
She’d got the message at last: contractions are not to be ignored.
And I helped her back to her feet as she made her way to the toilet and back a bit more quickly than she’d intended, and got on the bed and propped herself up against the headboard, and I started to time her contractions until they began to come at the required intervals, and phoned the midwife, and she arrived at 10 pm, and got Jill ready, followed by the doctor at midnight, and as the delivery began I was shocked to see how basic it was.
The first thing that happened, was the passage of two large stools, which fell neatly onto a white napkin, which the midwife had laid out in readiness, which she folded up and took to the toilet, followed, to my amazement, by the appearance of six large, grape-sized piles around Jill’s anus, like the petals of a flower, which I hadn’t recognized, at first, and I couldn’t believe how much strain her body must be under.
And then Jill yelled at me to go and stand by her side so that she could grab hold of my hand, which she proceeded to clutch onto frantically, as the strain and the struggle of labour started to begin, until, an hour later, the doctor beckoned me to come round to stand at Jill's feet.
The uniquely ecstatic and transcendently joyful moment had finally arrived.
Jill’s vagina started to widen and a white creamy mass started to appear in the gap, which, to my amazement, the doctor told me was the top of the baby's head, which I could hardly believe.
It didn't look like the top of any head that I’d ever seen.
Why was it white?
Where was the hair?
I didn't know, and it didn’t occur to me that babies are covered in white grease when they are born to lubricate their passage.
And where had the baby's head suddenly come from?
I hadn't realized that it was anywhere in the vicinity, but, there it was: the head of my lovely, little miracle, easing slowly through the gap, with Jill straining herself half to death, to the accompaniment of a running commentary from the midwife telling her when to “hold-her-breath-and-push”, and when to “breathe-out-and-stop” like a cox in a boat-race, as it came through the oval opening and got squeezed to the shape of an orange pip, finally to emerge and expand back to its rightful roundness, and the rest of its dear little body came after, assisted by the midwife who finally looked down and announced proudly.
'It's a girl!' and everybody was in ecstasies.
Jill and I had been blessed with the Divine gift of a miraculous, little, baby daughter.
And the doctor tied the cord and cut it and gave our little wonder a shake until she finally made her first squeaky, little cry.
And at 2am on the 27th April 1970, Elizabeth Gwen Parker took her first breath and was born, alive and well, to her proud and delighted parents, George and Jill.
And the nurse took her away to the bathroom and gave her, her first bath and brought her back to us, all wrapped up in a fluffy, white towel and handed her to me.
And I took my priceless little bundle of joy into my arms for the first time and gazed at her in awe and wonder and cradled her lovingly in the crook of my arm and pressed her dear little cheek against mine and passed her down to Jill with a beaming smile who looked up at her in disbelief, as if she could hardly believe what she’d produced.
And the midwife and the doctor left and Jill and I started to talk about the wonder of the moment in such an animated and excited manner that we lost all track of time, so that when I eventually went downstairs to get some breakfast I was amazed to find that it was eleven o'clock, and almost time for lunch.
We'd been talking non-stop for eight hours and it had seemed more like eight minute.
Time had never gone so fast.
And so it went on for two days, with our talking non-stop in joyous jubilation.
I'd never seen Jill look so animated and so happy.
We’d discovered the uniquely ecstatic and transcendently joyful experience of sharing the birth of our firstborn child.
Two weeks later on the 9th May 1970 I went to the Registrar’s Office at the Town Hall in Eastleigh, and registered Elizabeth as Elizabeth Gwen Parker on the her Birth Certificate, with Jill Parker as Mum, married to George Parker, as Dad, and, Elizabeth Gwen turned out to be the sweetest and most contented child that anybody could ever have wanted. She was perfection personified.
She was soon enjoying her food and her baths and dropping off to sleep in seconds, like a perfect, little angel, with no problem at all, much to her mother's surprise who had expected nothing but problems, for having been told by her old-fashioned and misguided Aunty Lily, that babies are selfish and cry for nothing, and have to be ignored and left to “cry it out”, and that you have keep them to a strict regime, or they get spoilt, when of course precisely the opposite is the case.
Babies are not at all selfish but are utterly adorable and need only to receive, tender loving care in a happy and harmonious environment, when they cry very little and only to let you know that it’s time for them to be fed or otherwise tended to, and soon stop altogether, as I learnt in my child-rearing classes at university, and as I’d already learnt when I was ten years old, from having had to look after my baby sister when she was born, instead of my mum who was bed-ridden with phlebitis, for six months.
And although Elizabeth cried for a few minutes at first, when I put her to bed, she soon dropped off soundlessly with the help of a bit of expert rocking by me, and by the end of the month I had her nodding off with no rocking at all, much to Jill’s surprise, who’d thought babies never stopped crying when you put them to bed.
When Elizabeth was six weeks old I found that she was able to sit up next to me on the sofa in her baby-grow, with my arm around her, and so started to take her photograph every week, with my new, rather expensive, time-delay Polaroid Land Camera, of which I was rather proud, so that I could keep a record, and as the weeks went by and her dear, little head crept further and further up past the squares on the back of our chequered, brown and beige sofa, I was delighted to look at my adorable photographic record, only to find after I’d taken my sixth photo that Jill suddenly looked up, to my amazement, and said.
‘I’m going to have to leave you for a short while, to move into a flat and live on my own’, and I couldn’t believe it.
‘Why’s that?’, I asked in confusion.
‘Because my family are pressuring me into it’, she said, lamely, which I found even more confusing.
Since when had she been worried what her family wanted?
‘What difference does it make what your family want?’ I said. 'It's up to you what you do isn't it?'
'Yes,’ she said, uncertainly, 'but they’re telling me off, because the baby is Vic’s, and saying that I should be living with him, and getting me worried, so I thought it would be better if lived on my own for a while to think things out, so Vic’s bought a flat for me in Chandlersford,’ which made no sense to me at all.
'Why have got to live on your own to think things out?' I said. 'Why can't you think things out here?'
'Well if I stay here, you’ll try to influence me won't you?' she said, and added, with a sheepish grin. 'And it isn't safe for me to stay with you is it, because you did hit me, when I was pregnant, didn't you?' and I couldn't believe it.
She was going around telling everybody that I'd hit her. Now everybody would think I was a wife-beater.
That was charming that was, but I could see that it wasn’t going to do me any good to argue with her, because it would just put her back up and make her feel even less inclined to live with me and said, agreeably.
‘OK. When are you planning to go then?'
'Tomorrow,’ she said. 'Vic's coming round to pick me up after lunch.'
'OK,' I said, a bit stunned to think that she was going to go so soon. 'What do you want me to do about the furniture then? We'll have to share everything out won't we, if you’re leaving me?' and was surprised to hear her say rather sharply.
'No we won't. I haven't gone yet and I'm hoping to come back.'
‘Oh right,' I said, agreeably, 'but you'll need the washing machine won't you, to wash the baby's clothes?', and was even more surprised to hear her say somewhat irately.
'No I won't!', which I didn’t understand at all.
How was she going to wash the baby’s clothes without it?
'OK,’ I said, evasively, determined to see that she got it anyway, for not wanting my baby to run out of clean clothes.
And so the next day Vic turned up and parked out in the road, and got out to open the boot for Jill to load her suitcases and I was shocked to see how much weight he'd lost.
His clothes were hanging on him like rags. He looked as if he’d lost two stone at least. What on earth was wrong with him?
I had no idea, and guessed that he must have suffered much more than I’d realized, and could hardly believe that Jill could have treated him so badly.
Having loaded her bags in the car, Jill came back down the drive, and wearing her most captivating smile, said.
‘I was wondering if you would mind doing me a favour?’ and I felt quite touched to think that she thought I still deserved her most captivating smile and that I could still be useful and said only too readily.
‘Of course. What would you like me to do?’
‘I was wondering if you would mind finding somebody to commit adultery with, so that I can divorce you?' she said, and I felt completely dumbfounded.
What sort of a request was that?
Since when had God’s holy sacrament of love-making been relegated to “committing adultery”?
Where was her reverence for the sacred?
Lost and gone forever, apparently, or, had she ever had it?
I was starting to wonder, and was so horrified by her vile profanity that I was nearly speechless, as I stammered out in reply.
'Um! I don't actually know anybody to commit adultery with.’
'You could do it with a prostitute,’ she added, brightly, 'and if you pay her a fee, she will give evidence in court as well,’ and I could not believe it.
How did she know so much about prostitutes?
I had no idea.
How did she know anything about them?
I didn’t know.
And she didn’t really think that I would have anything to do with one, did she?
I thought they were the personification of depravity, for desecrating God's most holy sacrament: love-making, as I'd thought, did she, but she didn’t apparently.
Where was the devout and pious, sweet and pure young lady of class and distinction that I’d married?
Disappeared, without trace, apparently.
Except that I was now starting to wonder, if she’d ever existed at all.
'I don't think I could do that,’ I said uneasily, not wanting her to know how horrified I felt at her depraved request, in case she became offended at my censure, and, at the same time, feeling guilty that I wasn’t able to help her with her request, when she'd asked so nicely.
'OK,’ she said unhappily and walked off up the gravel drive, and got into Vic's car and turning back, waved and smiled sheepishly as they drove off down the road, leaving me feeling completely stunned.
How could she have asked me to do anything as horrendous as to have sex with a prostitute?
I had no idea.
It was unbelievable.
She was utterly degenerate.
When I turned up at her new flat with the washing machine, I was surprised to find that she was quite annoyed.
Why was that?
I had no idea but assumed that it was because she thought it was a waste of time to bring it up to the flat, because she would soon be coming back to the house, and felt quite encouraged, until I saw a speech by Brutus, from Shakespeare's "Julius Caesar", stuck on her kitchen door, which Vic had copied out in long-hand and left there, in an attempt to persuade her to go off with him, and which she hadn’t bothered to remove:
"There is a tide in the affairs of men, Which taken at the flood, leads on to fortune. Omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and in miseries. On such a full sea are we now afloat. And we must take the current when it serves, or lose our ventures.",
which rather confirmed what she’d told me, when she’d said that she didn’t want to leave me but was being pressured into it.
Four months later, in the October, however, she looked up and told me that she was planning to go to see a play at our favourite theatre, "The Salisbury Playhouse" at the weekend with Vic, her brother and his wife, with no suggestion of inviting me at all, and I felt completely sick.
She seemed no longer to be interested in my company at all, so was she telling me the truth when she said that she wanted to come back and live with me?
It didn’t look like it.
So, how could I discover the truth?
And I realised there was only one thing I could do, pretend that I'd met somebody else, and see if she got upset.
If she did, I would know that she was interested in coming back, and if she didn’t, I would know that she wasn’t, and wondered who I could get to help me, and realised that Christine, my new student-teacher, trainee assistant, at Highbury Junior school, in Cosham, where I now worked, was the perfect candidate, for being so young and attractive , and so, when I got to work the next day I asked her if she would mind helping me out with my fact-finding mission, and was pleased to hear her say that she would be delighted.
I guessed that Vic had booked the tickets, and so I phoned the theatre, pretending to be him, and asked if there were any vacant seats left, next to “mine”, because two more people wanted to join “us”, and was told that there were none in the same row but two directly in front if they would do, which I realized would be even better and so asked for them to be put by, for “my friend George Parker” who would pick them up on the night.
When the Saturday evening arrived, I made sure that Christine and I were comfortably ensconced in our seats, whispering sweet-nothings to each other like two cooing turtle-doves, oblivious to the world, before Jill turned up, and we hadn't been seated five minutes, before I heard her moving along the row immediately behind us, to the accompaniment of a lot of exasperated whispering from Vic, urging her not to speak to me, which she ignored, as she usually did, before hailing me with feigned brightness.
'Hello George, fancy bumping into you,’ and I looked round in feigned surprise, and said, pleasantly.
'Hello Jill. Yes it's a small world isn't it?' and turned back to Christine who I was delighted to see was playing her part like a real pro and was snuggling up to me as if we’d been in love for years, and I put my arm round her shoulders to complete the picture, made even more evocative by her being so young and attractive and so Swinging Sixties, Carnaby Street "a la mode" with a headband, leather boots and a long, full-skirted, florally embroidered, blue, denim dress representing the new libertarian, if not libertine, hippy culture of drugs, free-love and flower-power of the moment.
When the interval arrived we gave Jill every opportunity to see Christine in her full glory as we stood up, and paraded across the row in front of her, to go to the bar and then a quarter of an hour later paraded across the row in front of her, again, to come back, and sit down, and then, paraded across the row in front of her, again, to leave at the end of the performance, and after I’d delivered her safely back to her home in Portsmouth, and thanked her profusely for her unbelievably accomplished performance, and headed back for home, I could not believe, how well the evening had gone and couldn’t help thinking that Jill must have found our amateur theatricals in the row in front of her, even more compelling than the professional theatricals on the stage, and wondered how long it would be, before she came round to see me, if at all, and was amazed to find that she was standing on my doorstep, bright and early the very next morning.
She hadn’t been able to get over and see me fast enough.
When the doorbell rang and I opened the front door, I was amazed to find that she didn’t say a word to me, but shot past me like a maniac, and flew up the stairs like a bat out of hell, and started to go through everything in the bedroom, like a frantic ferret, before turning on me in a fury, and snarling, venomously.
'Did she sleep here?’ and I couldn’t believe it.
What was wrong with her?
Had she gone berserk?
'Did she sleep here?’ she repeated, which came to me as a bit of a shock.
Did she really think that anybody as young and attractive as Christine would want to sleep with me?
It was very flattering, and, I couldn't help thinking that it would have been rather nice if she had, but, she hadn’t, because she was already engaged to somebody else.
'No,’ I replied, in all innocence, expecting her to calm down at the reassuring news, only to find, to my surprise, that she didn't, but started to yell at me even louder.
'So what was that all about last night then?' she demanded, as if, I'd committed some heinous crime, which came to me as an even bigger shock.
What heinous crime had I committed?
I had no idea.
Wasn’t I allowed to go out with other women, now that I was on my own?
Apparently not, and so I tried to calm her down by explaining contritely that nothing had happened, and that I’d just put on a little charade for her benefit, to see if she would be upset, because I wasn’t sure if she was really serious about wanting to come back and live with me, or not, and she hollered at me even louder.
‘Well I certainly won’t be coming back if you’re going to carry on like this!’ and to my acute embarrassment I found that I was bursting into tears.
Why was I doing that?
I had no idea, but found to my surprise that Jill showed no interest at all, she just continued to bawl at me, regardless, until after a few more minutes, she stopped, apparently satisfied with her harangue, and gave me a pitying look and left, leaving me feeling completely devastated.
Nothing I did ever went right.
It always went wrong.
I'd tried to find out if she was really interested in coming back, but, all I’d succeeded in doing was to make her feel even less inclined to.
She’d been so annoyed, that she hadn't even felt sorry for me when I’d burst into tears, which, I couldn’t help thinking, hadn't been very kind.
Why was that?
Because she had no feelings for me at all, apparently, and my feelings suddenly flipped over like a leaf in the wind, and I started to feel jubilant, for realising that I’d discovered the answer to my query after all.
If she had no feelings for me for me, at all, then, it meant that she wasn’t interested in coming back, and I could quite safely give up on her, and find somebody else, although, despite that amazing discovery, I was still surprised to hear her say, when I went over to see her and Elizabeth, the following week, in January 1971.
‘I’m going to have to move out of this flat, and move in to live with Vic in a house he’s bought for us at 56 West Street in Titchfield, because the neighbours here, are starting to talk about me.
They’re saying that it is disgraceful that I’ve left my husband with his baby and am being visited by another man.’
‘Oh dear’, I said, ‘that’s a shame. You’ve only been here six months, haven’t you?’
‘Yes,’ she said. ‘And I was wondering if you would mind selling the house so that we can share the profits.’
‘OK.’ I said, ‘that shouldn’t be a problem.’ feeling relieved to think that she’d finally made up her mind to leave me and go off with Vic, after all.
‘The trouble is that my family are badgering me into living with Vic,’ she continued, ‘because the baby is his, but I don’t really want to, because I don’t love him, and I won’t be sleeping with him, or having sex with him, because I really want to come back and live with you,’ which didn’t make much sense to me but I didn't bother to argue with her about it, because I didn’t believe her for a minute, but I still did not like her continuing to say that she wanted to come back and live with me, because it made me feel responsible for her and unable to find somebody else with a clear conscience.
When she moved into Vic’s new house, the following week, she invited me over to have a look at it, and I was surprised to find that it was on my route to work and exactly half-way between my home and my school, and after she’d spent half-an-hour showing me around, I was even more surprised to hear her say imploringly.
‘It’s very lonely here. I don’t know anybody, and so I was wondering if you would mind calling in to see me and the baby on your way home from work every afternoon, because it won’t be a problem, will it, because you’ll be driving past my front door, won’t you?’ and I couldn’t help feeling confused.
Why did she want to see me every afternoon?
I didn’t know.
I didn’t imagine Vic would be very pleased about it, and on top of that, she’d said that the reason she’d had to move out of the flat was because the neighbours had said it was disgraceful for her to be visited by two men, and said.
‘Well I’m quite happy to come and see you, but, you won’t be wanting to come back and live with me anymore, now, will you?
‘Oh, yes I will,’ she replied quickly, which I found extremely irritating.
‘Well if you want to come back and live with me’, I asked pointedly, ‘why do you want me to sell the house?’.
‘It isn’t my idea,’ she replied, defensively. ‘It’s Vic’s idea and his family’s. They’re pressuring me into it,’ which I found even more irritating.
She was full of excuses, and as the weeks and months went by and she still kept saying she wanted to come back and live with me, without making any effort to do so, I became even more irritated and wondered what I could do to discover truth, and hit upon the perfect plan.
I could make her think that the neighbours were talking about her in Titchfield as they had, in Chandlers Ford, by sending her an anonymous letter, and then, if she was seriously interested in coming back to live with me, she would be able to use it as an excuse to leave Titchfield, as she’d used it as an excuse to leave Chandlers Ford, and if she didn’t use it, I would be able to point out to her that it meant that she didn’t really want to come back and live with me, and so I went into the stationers and bought an effeminate looking Basildon Bond writing pad and envelopes, and wrote a letter in spidery handwriting as if it had been written by an interfering elderly spinster.
"We know what's going on in that house. You've left your husband with his baby, to live in sin with another man, and we think it is disgusting. A friend.", and posted it on my way to work the next day, and called in to see Jill on my way home, expecting to see her looking worried about her anonymous letter, but found to my disgust, that she wasn't, but said, accusingly.
'I got this anonymous letter this morning, saying that the neighbours are talking about me, but Vic says that I should ignore it, because you sent it, and according to the postmark, you posted it on your way to work this morning, to frighten me into coming back to live with you,’ which I didn't understand at all.
Why had Vic told her that?
I didn’t want her to come back and live with me. I wanted her to admit that she didn’t want to.
Vic was being no help at all.
How was I going to induce Jill to tell me the truth now that she didn’t believe the letter was genuine?
I had no idea, and realized that my simple, little plan had suddenly turned out to be a lot less simple.
Now, it seemed, I was engaged in a duel with Vic to convince Jill that my letter was genuine, and laughed derisively and said.
'I didn't write it. Vic's just saying that because he doesn't want you to come back and live with me, isn’t he?', and added pointedly, ‘but it's up to you what you do isn't it? You could use it as an excuse to come back and live with me, if you wanted to, couldn’t you?' hoping that she would say something revealing like:
“Yes, but I don’t want to come back and live with you.”
but she didn’t, and I realized to my disgust that I was now going to have to send her a second letter, and would have to post it at a time that did not coincide with when I went to and from work, which I found very annoying, because it meant that I had to go all the way back to the Post Office in Fareham, to look up the times of the collections to find out which one I should use, and was disgusted to find that there was only one time-stamp that would work, and that it was at 7.30 in the morning, and that in order to get it, I would have to post the letter after 10.30 the night before, and so, after finishing night-school the next evening, I found myself to my complete disbelief, at 10.15pm, sitting in my car in the pitch dark, in Fareham train-station car park, hidden away in a secluded corner feeling like a criminal, furtively writing an anonymous letter, under the faint glow of my car's interior light, like something from an Agatha Christie novel, which, upon finishing, I then had to take round to the Post Office to post.
The next afternoon I called in to see Jill to see if my second missive had gone down any better than my first, only to find that it hadn't, because Vic had told her, that I'd sent that one, too, despite its not having been posted at a time which coincided with my going to work or coming home, and I couldn’t help feeling even more fuming.
Vic was not helping me at all.
Now, I would have to write a third letter, and I could not believe it.
How long was this going to have to go on for?
I had no idea, and found myself, at 10.15pm, every evening, sitting in my car, in the corner of Fareham train-station car park, in the pitch dark, writing a third letter, and then a fourth, and then a fifth, when I suddenly realized that all I had to do to make Jill take it seriously was say I was going to send copies of the next one to all her neighbours to let them know what was going on at her house, and called in to see her on the Friday afternoon expecting to see her taking it much more seriously, only to find, to my surprise that she wasn’t waiting to talk to me, at all.
Vic was, with Jill standing in the background, looking on nervously as he announced menacingly.
'I've taken all the letters to the police, who say that they are criminal and that they are going to examine them for finger-prints, and prosecute the offender,’ which I didn't like the sound of at all.
It hadn't occurred to me that my letters were criminal, and replied, unthinkingly, in a tone of mild panic.
'Well they’ll all have my finger-prints on them won't they, because I've read them too, haven’t I?' hoping to remove myself from suspicion only to find, to my disgust, that I’d done the opposite, as he looked up triumphantly and said.
'You haven't read the last one. It only came this morning, and so if your finger-prints are on it, you’ll be in deep trouble.'
'Oh right,’ I said, in a tone of deceptive calm, 'That's true. That one won't have my finger prints on it,’ and changed the subject to give the impression that I wasn't the slightest bit interested in the matter, but as I drove home afterwards, I couldn’t help feeling decidedly worried.
What was going to happen now?
What were the police going to say when they found that my finger-prints were on the fifth letter?
Would I get prosecuted?
What would be the charge?
Writing threatening letters?
I guessed so, and started to feel even more sick.
What was the sentence for that?
I had no idea.
What would happen when we got to court?
Would Jill have to attend?
Presumably she would, because the letters were addressed to her, and with that thought, my fears started rapidly to recede.
Jill wouldn't want to go to court.
That was the last thing she’d want.
She would end up looking more guilty than me.
It was she who had betrayed her husband, and, who had gone off with his baby to live in sin with another man. She wouldn't want everybody to know that.
She wouldn't want anybody to know that!
The idea was completely ridiculous and I couldn't help laughing.
It wasn't going to happen, and so I ignored Vic's idle threat, and continued with my efforts to work out how I could send Jill “an anonymous letter from her neighbours” that couldn’t be traced back to me, and suddenly had a bright idea.
She’d told me that she was going to visit her Aunty Lily the next day, and I’d told her that I was going to visit my mum and so if she were to receive a telegram from Fareham Post Office, twenty miles away, claiming to come from her neighbours in Titchfield, nobody would know that it had come from me, because I would have been in Eastleigh 20 miles away, and so once I arrived in Eastleigh on the Saturday afternoon, I went to the phone box in Derby Road, just round the corner from my mum’s house in Locksley Road, and picked up the black receiver and dialled "0", for the local operator and asked her if she could put me through to the Telegrams department at Fareham, which apparently, she shouldn’t have done, because I wasn’t phoning from Fareham, and asked the Fareham operator if I could send a telegram to Mrs. Jill Parker at 1 Hamilton Road Bishopstoke Eastleigh, and to my delight he said that I could and asked me for the message, which I dictated:
"Hello Mrs. Parker. Our thoughts are with you. From your friends and neighbours at Titchfield." and then at 2.30pm, he told me to put a half-crown into the slot, and press the big chrome button "A", which I did to hear the heavy coin drop inside the big black box, and replaced the receiver and went round to see my mum, feeling rather jubilant.
Ten minutes after I arrived my mum’s phone rang and she picked it up and turned to me and said.
‘It’s Jill. She wants to speak to you.’
Jill had received her telegram from Fareham, and had phoned my mum straightaway, to see if I was there, just as I’d expected.
‘Hi Jill!' I said, pleasantly.
'I've just received a telegram from Titchfield,’ she said in confusion. 'It was sent from Fareham at half past two, so I guess you couldn’t have sent it?'
‘I guess not,’ I said. ‘I’m in Eastleigh.’
'OK, well I've decided to come back and live with you to see how we get on. Is that OK?’ and I couldn't believe it.
It was the last thing I’d expected.
Jill and my dear little baby were actually going to come back and live with me.
'Really?' I said, trying to control my delight and amazement.
'Yes,’ she said.
'OK. When do you want to come?'
'Tomorrow afternoon. Can you pick me up from the house at half past two.'
'OK,’ I said, unable to believe my good luck and wondering how I could have misjudged her so badly.
I'd thought she'd been lying when she'd said that she wanted to come back and live with me but she hadn't. She'd been telling me the truth all the time.
It was amazing. I was going to get my wife and my lovely little baby back, and everything was going to be perfect again.
When I turned up to collect her the next day, I was a bit confused to see that she was looking highly delighted.
Why was that? I hadn’t expected her to be looking happy. I’d expected her to be looking worried.
Her family weren't going to be very happy when they found out that she'd come back to live with me and neither was Vic and his family and then I became even more confused as she gave me a knowing look and said melodramatically, with a big grin.
'I couldn't believe it when that telegram turned up at Auntie Lily's yesterday afternoon. It was as if Big Brother was watching me,’ which I didn’t understand at all.
Why was she making a joke of it?
She'd sounded worried enough, when she’d phoned me up about it, but now she wasn’t sounding worried at all, and even seemed to find it amusing, but I was too overjoyed about her and Elizabeth coming back to live with me, to worry about it.
Once Jill and Elizabeth got back to my brand new house at 7, Chichester Close, in Hedge End, and settled in, it was only a matter of hours before I felt as if they’d never left.
We slipped back into the old routine as if it had never stopped, and I found that Elizabeth was still the perfect little angel she'd always been, and that I felt even more attached to her, and for three days everything went perfectly, until Wednesday evening came along, and Jill came into the nursery, where I putting my little angel to bed, and said, sheepishly.
‘I’m going to have to go back to Titchfield, because I don’t think we’re getting on well enough for me to stay.’
And I could not believe it, and was so utterly horrified that I reacted in a way I would never have believed possible in a million years!
I snatched Elizabeth up out her cot, and held on to her grimly, as if my very life depended on it, and yelled back at her in anguish.
'You can go back to Titchfield if you want, but you're not taking my baby with you!,’ expecting her to take issue with me, in no uncertain terms, only to find to my amazement that she didn’t say a word, but high-tailed it out of the room like a frightened rabbit, leaving Elizabeth and me on our own together, and as I looked down at my adorable little treasure, curled up lovingly in my arms, I realized I was lost.
I wouldn’t be able to keep her as much as I wanted to, because babies need their mothers, and it wouldn't be right of me to deprive mine of hers, and so, I put her back into her cot, knowing that she was lost to me forever, and went out to take issue with Jill.
'What do you mean,' I said, ‘we’re not getting on well enough for you to stay?'
'It's just that we're not,’ she replied, sheepishly, which I found even more irritating.
'In what way are we not?' I demanded.
'No way in particular,’ she replied lamely. 'It's just that I don’t feel happy enough to want to stay,’ and I couldn't help feeling sick.
Jill was robbing me of my lovely little baby, yet again, and this time for good.
And, according to her, it was my fault, because I couldn’t make her happy.
'So when do you want to go?' I asked despondently.
'Tomorrow,’ she said hopefully.
'Tomorrow?' I exclaimed in horror. 'You can't go tomorrow. You've only just got here,’ fearing that I wouldn't be able to cope with losing my precious, little treasure that soon. 'It's ridiculous. You can wait until the weekend.'
'OK,’ she said agreeably, looking perfectly satisfied.
When the dread Saturday finally arrived and I drove Jill and Elizabeth back to Vic's house, I couldn't help feeling utterly sick.
I'd thought everything was going to turn out to be a perfect dream, but it hadn’t.
It had turned out to be a perfect nightmare.
I was losing my wife and my lovely little baby for good, and as I dropped them off and saw them into the house and said goodbye for the last time, and set off back along the A27 to my empty, silent house a song by Shirley Bassey, started to play on the car radio:
"I, I who have nothing.
I, I who have no one,
Must watch you go dancing by, wrapped in the arms of somebody else"
and I felt a thousand times worse, and:
"I can only watch you with my nose pressed up against the window-pane."
made me feel worse still.
I was on the outside, looking in.
Vic, Jill and Elizabeth were on the inside, looking out.
They were all happy, living together, in the warm.
I was unhappy, living on my own, in the cold and I had nobody to blame but myself.
Jill had come back to live with me, as she’d promised, but she hadn’t been able to stay because I hadn't been able to make her happy.
When I'd got married it had never occurred to me that I wouldn't be able to make her happy.
I'd thought it was God's Will.
I’d thought success was guaranteed.
I’d thought God had called me to take her under my wing like a waif from the storm and shower her with love and affection and make her happy, but apparently I hadn’t been able to, and so it couldn't have been God's Will after all, could it?
So what did that mean?
It seemed to mean that God's Will didn’t exist, which seemed to mean that God didn’t exist, and I couldn't help feeling even more sick.
Nothing I believed in was true.
Everything I believed in was false.
Life was a fallacy, which meant that it wasn't worth living, and I might just as well end it.
And, if I did, then Jill would be sorry, because she would know that it was her fault, because she’d deserted me, and she would feel guilty, and Vic would know that it was his fault too, for encouraging her to, and he would feel guilty as well.
All I had to do when I got home, was drive into the garage and shut the door, and sit in the car, and keep the engine running, and breathe in the fumes, and I’d drop off to sleep and all my problems would be over, and so when I got back to the house and drove into the garage, I put out my left hand to apply the hand-brake, so that I could get out of the car and close the garage door, and get back in, and breathe in the liberating fumes and die, but, as I wrapped my fingers round the lever, a nasty idea suddenly occurred to me.
What if Jill and Vic weren't sorry to hear that I was dead?
That meant, I would die for nothing.
So would they be sorry to hear it, or not?
I wasn’t sure, but couldn't help fearing that they might not be.
And then an even nastier idea suddenly occurred to me.
They might actually be pleased to hear that I was dead, because I would be out of the way, which meant I would die for their benefit, which did not appeal to me at all, and promptly turned off the ignition, and got out of the car, and went into the house, wondering how I could ever have been so stupid as to think that they would be sorry to hear that I was dead, but feeling rather amused to think how short-lived my mistake had been.
I hadn't thought it for long.
I hadn’t thought it for long enough, to do anything silly.
I might be stupid, but I wasn't that stupid, and I cheered up considerably.
I’d cheated death!
Six days later, on the following Friday morning, in August 1971, as I was getting ready for work, the phone rang and I was surprised to find that it was Jill ringing me up in tears, saying that she couldn't get her coal-burning stove to light and asking me if I would mind coming round to see her, on my way to work to have a look at it, which I found a bit confusing.
On the one hand, I couldn’t understand why she would want to see me, when, according to her, we didn’t get on well enough for her to want to live with me, and on the other, why she thought I could help her with her coal-burning stove, when I didn’t know anything about them.
'I don't know anything about coal-burning stoves,’ I said, apologetically, 'I've never had one.'
'You probably know more about them than I do,’ she replied, plaintively.
'OK,' I said, 'If you say so,’ and couldn't help feeling a bit touched to think that she was still turning to me in a crisis. It was nice to feel wanted.
When I arrived at her house, I was surprised to find that there was nothing wrong with her stove at all. All it needed was raking out, which she should have known herself.
'There's nothing wrong with it.’, I said, ‘It just needs raking out,' and pointed to the choked grid and the ash-can full of ashes, which I pulled out to find that the ashes were all wet, as if somebody had poured water over the fire to put it out, and realized that she’d made the story up.
Why had she done that?
I had no idea.
'Oh,’ she said in a tone of wonder and delight, as if I'd just solved the mystery of the century, and gave me her most captivating smile, and said.
'You wouldn't like to call in to see me for a cup of tea and a chat, on your way home from work this afternoon would you?'
'OK,’ I said, 'If you like,’ and left for work, feeling a bit confused.
Why did she still want to see me, after she’d decided that we didn’t get on well enough for her to want to live with me anymore?
I didn't know, but when I called in to see her, on my way home, I was surprised to find that Vic was there, and was taking issue with her about something.
'But why did you have to ask him of all people?', he was saying in a tone of utter disgust, and I couldn't help wondering who "him of all people" was, as Jill replied, in a tragic tone of voice.
'But I didn't have any choice. I didn’t know anybody else to ask and the stove wouldn't light,’ and I suddenly realized that "him of all people" was me, as he said in a tone of utter contempt.
'But anybody would have been better than him,’ and I couldn't help feeling offended.
Why was he talking about me, as if I wasn't there, and why was he being so derogatory? Was he trying to hurt my feelings?
And I guessed I’d been right to think that he wouldn’t want me visiting Jill now that she’d gone back to live with him.
He would be worried that I might try to persuade her to come back and live with me again, but, as it turned out, he needn’t have worried, because the following week something happened to prevent my ever wanting Jill to come back and live with me again, which completely transformed my life, the likes of which I would never have believed possible in a million years.
Where I'd felt unhappy, guilt-ridden and utterly depressed I felt euphoric, ecstatic and utterly transcendent, and where I'd felt deserted, worthless and unwanted, I felt treasured, wanted and worthwhile.
It all began on the following Saturday afternoon, when my mum asked me if I would mind going down the road to see the local maintenance-man to ask him if he would mind coming round to look at her cistern in the toilet, which was playing up.
When I arrived at his house at 223 Passfield Avenue on the corner of Locksley Road, and rang the doorbell, his wife, who was a particularly sociable sort of a person, invited me in for a cup of tea, and a chat and as I followed her into the lounge I was surprised to find that the one-time love of my life, her irresistibly attractive daughter, Jean, was sitting on the sofa, whom I’d asked to marry me, unsuccessfully, in 1959, the year before I’d met Jill.
What was she doing there?
Why wasn't she up in Sheffield with her husband Ray?
I had no idea.
'How are you?' I asked, sociably, wondering why I didn't feel panic-stricken and inanely facetious as was my usual problem when in the company of attractive women, completely unaware that all trace of facetiousness had been knocked out of my system by the insidious treachery I'd suffered over the past year.
'Not very well, I'm afraid,’ she said, 'my marriage has broken down and I've had to leave my husband and come back home to live,’ and I couldn't help feeling sorry for her and said.
'Oh, I'm sorry to hear that, but you know where to come, if you ever need a shoulder to cry on,’ and I couldn’t believe what I’d just said.
It was just too presumptuous for words.
Why on earth would she want to cry on my shoulder?
The last time I’d seen her had been to hear her say that she didn’t want to marry me, since when, I hadn’t seen her at all, for twelve years, and I wondered nervously if she was going to laugh at my temerity, and make me feel completely stupid, only to find to my relief that she didn’t, as she smiled quite pleasantly and said.
'How are things going with you? I haven't seen you for ages.’ and I couldn't help thinking how strange it was that things were going for me, in exactly the same way as they were going for her, and said.
'Well, strange to relate. Things are going much the same for me as they are for you. My marriage has broken down too. My wife got pregnant by another man, and left me.'
'Oh!' she said, 'That wasn’t very nice.'
'No,' I agreed. 'It wasn't, and I had to sell my house, and buy another one, but the new one’s quite nice. You can come over and have a look at it if you like’, and I couldn’t believe what I’d just said, again.
It was just too presumptuous for words, again!
Why would she want to come over and look at my house?
She wouldn’t, and I wondered nervously if she was going to laugh at my temerity this time, but found to my relief that she didn’t, as she smiled pleasantly, once again, and said.
'Yes, I’d love to. Would this evening be OK?' and I couldn't believe my luck. Things were going better than I would ever have imagined possible.
‘Yes, that would be great,’ I said, 'would you like me to pick you up?'
'Yes please,’ she said 'would 7.30 be OK.'
‘Brilliant,' I replied, 'I'll see you later then,’ and left in a state of total disbelief.
It was a dream come true, and when I got back to my mum’s I told her the good news, knowing that she would think it was good news, too, as she did.
When I turned up to collect Jean at 7.30, I thought perhaps I should be brave, and start off the evening, by clearing the air, for having a bone to pick with her, despite being amazed at my temerity for daring to do such a thing, and said.
‘I don’t want to be unkind, but I’ve got a bone to pick with you. When I asked you to marry me, and you refused, you said that it was because you didn’t ever intend to get married and so I gave up hope, but then, a year later you did.’
'That's true,’ she agreed, pleasantly, ‘but what I meant was that I didn't ever intend to get married to somebody like you,’ which took me completely by surprise.
'What was wrong with me?' I asked, plaintively, amazed at her frankness and wondering what I’d got myself into.
Was I going to hear a long list of my most appalling faults?
'You were too good-looking and self-opinionated.’ she said, 'and I thought men like that couldn't be trusted because they were too big-headed,’ and I couldn’t believe it.
She’d said that she thought I was good-looking!
Since when had she thought I was good-looking?
She’d never told me she thought I was good-looking.
I could have done with hearing that, and especially from somebody as glamorous as she, and then I wouldn’t have had such a terrible inferiority complex, in the company of attractive women.
'So what made you decide to get married then?' I asked.
'Because I met somebody who was plain and quiet, who I thought could be trusted, but obviously I got that wrong,’ she replied, regretfully.
'Well,' I continued plaintively, 'I got a very nasty shock when I heard that you'd got married, because by then I'd already married somebody else, and felt as if I'd fallen into a trap because had I known that you might change your mind and get married, then, I would have waited for you, in the hope that you might have decided to marry me.’
'But you got married first,’ she asserted accusingly, which I found staggering too.
Was she reprimanding me for not waiting for her?
'Yes, but I wouldn't have, had I known there was a chance that I might have married you.’ I replied, defensively.
'But I never forgot you,’ she said, as if to suggest that she might have married me if I’d waited. 'I've always worn the gold crucifix you gave me on my 21st Birthday, even though my husband didn’t like it and asked me to take it off.'
'Oh,' I said, staggered to know that she’d remembered me, and relieved to think that she'd valued the crucifix I’d bought her, for remembering how much it had cost. I’d spent a week's wages on it, and had wondered later, if I’d been too extravagant, but apparently, I hadn’t.
But why had she always worn it? Was she religious, or superstitious or sentimental or what? I didn't know and it didn't occur to me for a moment that it could be because she’d felt attached to me, because that would have been a dream come true.
When we got back to the house, I showed her around and she said how nice everything was and I made a cup of tea and we went into the lounge and sat on the sofa in front of the fire chatting about old times, but before we knew where we were, we found ourselves upstairs in the bedroom, stark naked, lying in bed together, desperately clinging onto each other as if our very lives depended on it, as the years of grief and heartache started slowly to evaporate from our separate souls, and we found heavenly bliss in each other’s arms until 2.30am came round, and she had to leave, and we found ourselves reluctantly having to get out of bed to get dressed and go downstairs and get into my car so that I could drive her back home, and after that, we started to see each other every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday evening, and as I drove backwards and forwards to work each day, along the sunlit A27, across the Bursledon Bridge over the sparkling Hamble River, filled with its lines of expensive boats, where I’d spent so much time on my own, sailing my Kestrel dinghy, I could hardly believe what was happening.
How could I have bumped into the love of my life, just one week after my marriage had finally broken down for good, at exactly the same time as her marriage had broken down for good, only to discover, to my amazement that I’d always been the love of her life?
It was like a Fairy Story. I seemed to have left the real world and entered Fairy Land.
It was unbelievable, and I guessed I should now make haste to see my solicitor and start divorce proceedings so that the love of my life, and I could get married, and rang him up to make an appointment and went over to see him, and gave him the details of my marital breakdown, and explained that Jill had committed adultery with Vic, to become pregnant, but had stayed with me to get my name on the baby’s birth certificate, but had since left me to move in and live with him, despite her claiming that they weren’t having sex, and he said that everything should be plain sailing, and that it would be better if I didn’t mention that Elizabeth was Vic’s, because her birth certificate said that she was mine, or the judge would make an issue of it and it would hold up proceedings, and that he would send a private investigator round to see Jill and Vic, to get a statement.
Two weeks later as I was driving Jean back home after our sixth evening of rapturous bliss she said.
'You won't be upset if I ask you something personal will you?' and I couldn't help feeling rather puzzled.
Why would I be upset?
Everything we talked about was personal wasn’t it?
'I guess not,' I said.
'It's about sex,’ she said, which I understood even less. We hadn't had it.
'We haven't had sex,’ I said.
'I know,’ she replied, 'but I was wondering why not,’ which confused me even more. I'd never been asked by a woman why I hadn’t had sex with her before, and wondered why she’d asked.
'I don't know,' I said, 'I suppose it's because I'm still up in the clouds at having found somebody as wonderful as you, and haven't come back down to Earth yet,’
'Oh, that's nice,’ she said, happily, and I couldn't help feeling relieved. It seemed as if I'd said the right thing, again.
'Why did you ask?' I said.
'Because my husband wasn’t interested in anything else,’ she replied, in disgust. 'He wasn't interested in me at all. The only time he paid me any attention was when he wanted sex,’ which I found extremely difficult to understand.
'I find it a bit hard to believe that anybody could fail to be interested in you,' I said. 'I'm interested in nothing else.'
'Oh, that's even nicer,’ she said, even more happily and snuggled up against me and I felt even more relieved. It seemed as if I was becoming quite good at saying the right thing, which made a nice change!
Location: Southampton UK
"ELIZABETH GWEN 27.4.70" in Chit-Chat.
Re: Elizabeth Gwen 27.4.70 by George Parker
« Reply #348 on: August 09, 2014, 07:31 PM »
On the next Monday afternoon, in September 1971, I thought I would call in to see Jill, on my way home from work, to tell her the good news, thinking that she would think it was good news too, and be happy for me to know that I’d met somebody else, now that she’d finally decided that she didn’t want me anymore, but wanted Vic instead, but was surprised to find that she didn’t think it was good news at all, and wasn’t happy for me either, as she said contemptuously.
'Jean Browning! You don't want anything to do with her. She's a slut!', which I didn’t understand at all.
‘I didn't know you’d met her,' I said, in confusion.
'I used to see her walking up Passfield Avenue on her way to North End Secondary Modern School for thickies, when I was on my way to Barton Peveril grammar school,’ she said, disdainfully, which didn’t make much sense.
How could work out that Jean was a slut by seeing her walk to school?
I’d thought she was going to say that she’d seen her name in the newspaper, for having won the Carnival Queen Contest, or for being the Principal Girl in a Pantomime at the Town Hall, or for being a Dancing Teacher and Pantomime Producer, which was how I’d met her.
My little sister had attended her Dancing School and in the autumn of 1954 had come home and told me that Jean was looking for people to audition for parts in her next production “Alladin” and so I’d offered my services and been accepted for the part of the evil uncle Ebanazer, and had started attending rehearsals and been overwhelmed by her dazzling good looks, at which point the penny suddenly dropped and I was shocked to realize, what was going on.
Jill was envious of Jean’s superior glamour, which came as a bit of a shock.
I’d never known her be envious of anybody before and hadn't realised she was capable of it. I’d thought she had such a high opinion of herself that she thought she was better than everybody, but I’d got it wrong. She didn’t think she was better than Jean when it came to glamour, apparently. She thought Jean was better than her, and I couldn't help feeling sorry for her.
It wasn’t very nice to feel envious. It made you feel inferior and depressed, and I couldn’t help thinking that her reference to Jean as a “thicky” was a bit of a joke, too, because she was the last one to talk on the subject of intelligence.
She was no genius herself.
She’d failed GCE O level maths at school and when Vic had tried to coach her so that she could take the exam again for thinking it would help her with her new job as a wages clerk, she hadn’t been able to cope and after only two weeks she’d burst into tears for finding it too difficult, much to his surprise and mine, and so I ignored her silly remarks and changed the subject and continued, conversationally.
‘She’s coming round to see me this evening,’ thinking once again that she would be happy for me, to know that I’d found somebody else to share my life with, and was no longer all alone in the world, only to find, once again, that she wasn’t happy for me at all, as she said antagonistically.
'Well you'll just have to put her off then won’t you? Because I'm coming round,’ and I couldn't believe it.
What was she talking about?
I had no idea, and couldn’t help feeling confused. Putting Jean off was the last thing I would do. Time spent with her was gold-dust!
'I'm not putting Jean off,’ I said, expressively.
'Well I'm coming round anyway,’ she repeated and I was even more confused.
Didn't she understand plain English?
'You can't,' I explained, patiently, thinking she was having trouble understanding what I saying, ‘because Jean is coming round.’
'Well that's OK because I'm coming round too,' she retorted, and I started to feel a bit annoyed.
Who did she think she talking to, telling me who I was going to have round to my house for the evening?
'Well it won't do you any good,' I explained, bluntly, 'because I won't answer the door,’ thinking that would settle the matter, only to find to my disgust, that it didn’t.
She just laughed, and said patronisingly.
'Don't be silly, of course you will. I'll be round at eight,’ and I could not believe her insolence, and felt so incensed I completely lost my temper.
'But I won't!’, I repeated vehemently and left in a fury wondering what on earth was wrong with her. She seemed to have gone mad.
When I picked Jean up at half past seven I told her about Jill’s threatened interference, fearing that she would be upset, only to find to my surprise that she wasn’t, but seemed to find it amusing, as she said with a laugh.
'I expect she's just being nosey,’ which hadn't occurred to me, but did nothing to make me feel less annoyed.
'Well she’s not going to learn much,' I said irritably, 'because I won't be answering the door, as I told her and so I don't suppose she'll bother to come,’ and so was completely staggered, on the stroke of eight, as Jean and I lay naked in bed intimately entwined in each other's arms, oblivious to the world, to hear the front-door bell start ringing and said in a fury.
'Good grief! I do not believe it. She's actually turned up.'
'Yes,' Jean replied with a laugh, as if she thought the whole thing was highly amusing, as the ringing continued 'and she's being very persistent about it.'
'She’s being very stupid about it, you mean,' I said, in disgust, completely unamused. 'I told her I wasn't going to answer the door.'
'Well she doesn’t seem to believe you,’ Jean replied, good humouredly.
'Well she soon will,' I replied, 'when she finds that it doesn't open,' and was relieved to hear the ringing finally stop, and happy to think that Jill had finally got the message and gone home, only to hear banging start on the back door.
'Hell's teeth!' I said, in utter disgust 'she's gone round the back, now!’
‘I guess she thinks that if she keeps knocking, you'll have to open the door, eventually,’ Jean replied, helpfully.
‘Well, she’s got another think coming, then’, I said acidly, ‘because I definitely am not going to open the door,’ and was relieved to hear the banging on the back door finally stop, and couldn't believe what I’d witnessed.
Jill had ignored me completely, and come all the way over from Titchfield to my house in Hedge End, hoping I would open the door and let her in, only to find herself being left standing on the doorstep looking like an idiot, and I couldn't help feeling sorry for her.
She'd shown herself up, completely, and made herself into a public spectacle.
She'd never done that before, and I couldn’t understand why she’d done it now.
The next morning, as I was getting ready for work, the phone rang and I was surprised to find that it was Jill.
After the way I’d treated her the night before, I’d thought she would never want to speak to me again, but, apparently, she did, as she said with surprising affability.
'I was wondering if you would like to call in and see me on your way home from work this afternoon so that we can discuss the divorce?' which I found rather confusing.
I’d thought she was dead against the divorce, so, why would she want to discuss it?
'Why do you want to discuss the divorce?' I asked and was surprised to hear her say, quite pleasantly.
'Because I’ve had a letter from your solicitor to say that he’s sending a Private Investigator round to see us to take a statement, and so if you are willing to say that Elizabeth is yours, then I am willing to say that I've committed adultery,’ which came as an even bigger surprise.
Why would she want to admit that she’d committed adultery, if she hadn’t?
She’d told me that she wasn’t going to sleep with Vic anymore let alone have sex with him, because she didn’t love him.
I didn't know, but I didn't bother to argue about it, for being only too pleased to think I was finally going to get the divorce that what I wanted.
'OK,’ I said, quite happily, 'I'll call in on my way home from school then’, but was surprised to find when I arrived, that the side door was wide open but nobody was around and so walked into the kitchen and yelled.
'Is anybody there?' expecting to hear Jill reply from somewhere nearby, only to find that she didn’t, but yelled back at me from somewhere far away.
'I'm upstairs. Can you come up?’ which I didn't understand.
Why was she upstairs? She knew I was coming, so why wasn't she waiting to see me?
And why did I have to go up?
Why couldn't she come down?
I had no idea.
‘OK!’ I called back, and went through the kitchen into the lounge, looking for the stairs, and eventually found them hidden away behind a door in the far corner of the room and opened it and made my way up the narrow staircase expecting to find her waiting at the top, only to find that she wasn’t.
Where was she?
I had no idea and started to feel a bit irritated.
How much longer was I going to have to wait?
'Where are you then?' I called out impatiently, only to hear her voice come from the room, at the other end of the landing, which looked a bathroom.
'I won't be a minute,' she replied, and I wondered what she was doing in the bathroom.
She wasn't having a bath was she?
Why would she wait until I was coming to have a bath?
I had no idea, but was relieved finally to hear some movement, as the bathroom door opened and Jill appeared in the doorway, stark naked, which I couldn’t understand at all.
Why was she walking around in front of me, stark naked?
Did she think we were still married, and it didn’t matter?
I didn’t know, and stepped back two paces to let her go past me into her bedroom to my right, only to see her pause in the doorway and look back, and smile at me invitingly, over her shoulder, as if she expected me to follow her, as she walked on ahead of me to let me run my eye over the back of her naked body, and I couldn’t believe how slight she was.
She looked more like an adolescent youth than a grown woman.
She had hardly any curves at all, unlike Jean, who had loads, and I couldn't help wondering why I'd never noticed, before, completely overlooking the fact that I’d never got the chance because I’d never seen her naked, before, and wondered why she thought I would want to follow her into her bedroom whilst she was getting dressed.
It certainly looked as if she thought we were still married, when, of course, we weren’t, because I’d made it clear that I wanted a divorce, as I’d thought did she.
And I couldn't help wondering if she'd become a bit absent-minded, and took another step backwards to remind her that we were not still married, and that I had no intention of following her into her bedroom, and waited on the landing until she eventually finished dressing and came out of the bedroom and followed me downstairs and we were finally able to get down to business, as she showed me the letter from my solicitor, and said apprehensively.
‘This is the letter from your solicitor. It says that his Private Investigator is coming round to see Vic and me to take a statement of adultery for the divorce,’ and I wondered why she was looking so worried.
She hadn’t sounded worried about the divorce on the phone. She’d sounded quite happy about it, so why wasn’t she looking happy now?
‘You don’t look as if you’re feeling very happy about it,’ I said.
‘I’m not,’ she said.
‘Why not?’ I asked.
‘Because I haven’t had sex with him, because I don’t love him,’ she said. ‘I’m only with him because of the baby, but he wants me to say that we’re having sex, so that I can get divorced, and he can marry me, but I’m certainly not very happy about it.’
‘Oh, I’m sorry to hear that’, I said sympathetically, feeling a bit guilty.
If she wasn’t happy that meant that my marriage had ended in failure after all.
‘But you have got Elizabeth haven’t you, so she will make you happy, won’t she?’ I said, in an effort to cheer her up.
‘Yes,’ she said, forlornly, and I gave up and thanked her for her help with the divorce, and left, feeling decidedly guilty at her unhappy state, and feeling sorry for her.
When I told Jean how upset Jill had been when we’d discussed the divorce, and how absent minded she’d been when she’d walked around in front of me stark naked, I thought she was going to feel sorry for her, too, and was quite shocked to find that she wasn’t, but was absolutely fuming, as she yelled at me in a fury.
'The little slut!. What's the matter with her? How many men does she want?' which I didn't understand at all.
'What do you mean?’ I enquired in confusion, ‘How many men does she want?'
'Well you do realise that she was trying to seduce you into having sex with her, don't you?' she retorted, venomously, about which I felt even more confused.
'No,' I said, in disbelief, 'Why would she want to have sex with me? She didn’t want to have sex with me when we were married, let alone now that she’s left me and gone off with Vic.
'To stop you divorcing her and to break us up, of course!', she yelled irately.
'Oh,’ I said in surprise, 'that wasn't very nice of her then, was it?'
'No it wasn't,’ she retorted, 'and you're not trying to tell me that you weren't tempted are you?'
'How could I have been tempted?' I said indignantly, 'I didn’t even know she was trying to seduce me. What makes you so sure that she was?'
'Because a woman doesn't flaunt herself stark naked in front of a man, if she doesn't want to seduce him,’ she bawled in exasperation.
'Oh,' I said, recollecting the scene, 'That was what put me off.’
'What put you off?' she asked in bewilderment.
'The fact that she was naked,’ I said.
'How could that have put you off?' she asked in complete disbelief.
'Because I thought she looked more like an adolescent youth than a mature woman,’ I said. 'It was rather off-putting. She's got a body like a lath. She has no curves at all, unlike you. I was quite shocked,’ and to my complete astonishment she burst out laughing.
'Good God!' she said, 'You've probably destroyed her self-confidence forever. She'll never flaunt herself, in front of a man again,’ and walked over and put her arms round my neck and held onto me and said.
'You're just too good to be true,’ and I couldn't help feeling relieved. It seemed as if I'd said the right thing, yet again.
THE GUILTY PARTY
When I picked Jean up the following Monday evening, I found that she hadn't forgotten the incident with Jill, but had rather brooded on it as she said, acidly.
'I don’t trust your wife. She's a conniving, malicious, little minx and I don't want you seeing her anymore, and so you’ve got to choose between her and me. Either you stop seeing her or you stop seeing me,’ about which I couldn't help feeling a bit uneasy.
Although I agreed that Jill was a conniving, malicious, little minx, I didn’t think it mattered much, because there was nothing she could do to harm us, whereas there was rather a lot I'd done to harm her, about which I couldn't help feeling guilty.
I’d tried to make her happy by encouraging her to get involved with Vic, but it hadn’t worked.
Instead of it making her happy I’d made her miserable, which meant that I’d consigned both her and Elizabeth to a life of misery forever, which I felt I should do everything I could to relieve, by staying in touch, in case she needed my help, which I wouldn't be able to do if I had to stop seeing her, but realized that there was nothing I could do about it, because if I kept in touch with her I would lose Jean which was the last thing I wanted or deserved, and so I said.
'Do you want me to call in to see her on my way home from work tomorrow afternoon then?' to which she replied dogmatically.
'No, I don't! I don't want you going anywhere near that house again. And I don't want her coming over here either. I want you to ring her up now and ask her to meet you at a neutral halfway point, between her house and yours, at eight o’clock this evening,’ and so I rang her up and asked her to meet me in the car-park of "The Swan" public house, in Bursledon, by the Hamble river and she agreed.
When she arrived on a sunny September evening, and got out of her blue Triumph Herald, and got into the passenger seat of my green Morris 1000 estate wagon and I told her what Jean had said, things couldn't have gone worse.
She burst into tears, and I felt like a criminal.
What was she crying for?
I didn't know, and asked, in confusion.
'Why are you crying?' only to feel even more confused, as she said, tragically.
'Because my marriage is over,’ which I understood even less.
I’d thought our marriage had ended when she’d finally decided that she didn’t want to live with me because we didn’t get on well enough, and had gone back to live with Vic, but she didn’t seem to think that it had.
What did she think our marriage had been?
I had no idea, and as I watched her get out of my car in tears and get back into her own to drive back to her life of apparently endless misery and grief with Vic, I couldn't help feeling even more guilty.
My Divine Mission to marry Jill and make her happy hadn't just ended in failure it had ended in total disaster.
I couldn’t imagine her looking less happy, which meant that Elizabeth was consigned to a life of misery too.
When I finally set off from the house nine months later to attend my divorce-hearing at the old Southampton Court buildings, at 2pm. on Monday 8th May 1972, I couldn't help feeling a bit nervous.
Jill had moved in, a couple of months earlier, with her two small children and a dog, and as I’d left the house she’d made it clear, that she wouldn’t be at all pleased if I were to return home, without my Decree Nisi, and, having no idea how divorce hearings proceeded I had no idea if that was going to be a problem or not.
When the proceedings started, I found that Jill was as far away from me as she could be on one side of the high-ceilinged, cavernous hall, in a witness box to the left of the judge, with me on the other side of the hall, in a witness box to his right,
After half an hour, I was relieved to see that everything was going swimmingly as my solicitor had said it would, until my learned barrister suddenly looked up and said, to my horror.
'I think there may be a question of doubt over the baby's paternity, your Honour,’ which I'd specifically asked him not to say, because my solicitor had told me that it could hold up proceedings, which was the last thing I wanted, but was, apparently, precisely what I was going to get, as the judge looked up sharply and said.
'I have nothing of it here, Mr. Jones,' and looked down at his papers, and continued.
'I am told that the baby is the child of the family,’ which frightened the wits out of me for thinking that he was now going to say: “But if it isn’t we have a problem.”, and which, I could see, was frightening the wits out of Jill even more as she stared at me from the other side of the courtroom, wide-eyed with terror, as his Honour swung round on me to his right, and demanded, combatively.
'Is there any doubt over the child's paternity?' with my retorting equally combatively.
'No! Your Honour.’
Followed by his swinging round on Jill, to his left, and saying equally combatively.
'Is there any doubt over the child's paternity?' with her retorting somewhat less combatively.
'No, your Honour.’
As a result of which, much to my relief, he granted us our divorce.
As we left the court afterwards, and made our way to the car park, Jill, who was walking ahead of me with Vic, turned round, and gave me the most grief-stricken look I’d ever seen, as if she couldn’t believe that I could have treated her so badly, and as I watched her walk off with Vic to collect his car, to return with him, to 56 West Street, I couldn't help feeling completely stricken with guilt,
It seemed as if I’d been right after all.
She really didn’t feel happy to think that she was going to have to spend the rest of her life with Vic.
I had consigned her to a life of misery and grief forever, with a man she didn’t love, which meant that Elizabeth would suffer too.
How could I have done anything so terrible?
I didn't know.
I’d thought that by encouraging her to become involved with Vic, I’d done what she wanted, but apparently I hadn’t.
She hadn’t wanted to have to go off with him because she had his baby. Apparently she’d wanted to stay with me.
I’d got it all wrong and now she was having to suffer the consequences.
I was completely useless.
Four months later Jill phoned me up and asked me if I would mind letting Vic and she adopt Elizabeth as theirs, and, realizing that it would be best for Elizabeth if I were to keep its parents happy, I agreed, and on 21st September 1972, Fareham Juvenile Court granted them their application and Elizabeth received a new birth certificate with Vic and Jill as her adoptive parents, but I still couldn’t help thinking what a weird situation Jill had created.
What was she going to tell Elizabeth when she grew up and asked her why she had an adoptive birth certificate if she and Vic were her real parents, and why my name was on her original birth certificate, if I wasn’t her real father.
I had no idea, but thought it would be best if I didn’t keep in touch with Elizabeth as she grew up, in case it annoyed Vic, and reduced the domestic bliss she would otherwise enjoy, and decided to wait until she was grown up, to get in touch, when I would be able to send her a 21st birthday card and a letter to let her know that I’d always loved her and had never forgotten her, and had been heartbroken to lose her, so that she wouldn’t suffer from feeling unwanted and rejected, and why I’d thought it best not to keep in touch whilst she was growing up.
Three years later, in 1975, I bumped into a friend of Jill's and she asked me if I knew that Jill now had three daughters, and I said that I didn’t, and she went off, leaving me feeling completely stunned.
How could Jill have three daughters?
You had to have sex to have children, and she'd told me that she wasn’t going to have sex with Vic anymore, because she didn’t love him.
But she must have had sex with him on a regular basis, to have conceived two children in three years.
But why would she have had sex with him, if she didn't love him?
So what did that mean?
It seemed to mean that she did love him.
So, how long had that been going on, then?
And my skin started to creep and my scalp started to crawl and I felt so sick I nearly passed out, as the awful truth started slowly to sink in.
It could have been going on forever.
And my mind went blank and I felt overwhelmed with disgust and outrage, as I saw her with her skirts up and her knickers down, with Vic the “super-stud” shafting her from behind like a stallion on heat, in every room of my house in Fair Oak, and behind every bush in the district.
It was utterly appalling. I was utterly defiled, and I felt totally betrayed, utterly sick and completely bewildered.
She’d caused me to feel stricken with guilt for four years, by making me think I’d consigned her and my dear, little baby to a life of misery and grief forever, with a man she didn’t love, when I hadn’t consigned them to a life of misery and grief at all, because she’d loved him all the time.
And she’d driven me to the point of suicide at Chichester Close, by pretending that it was my fault, when she left, when it hadn’t been my fault at all, but hers, for wanting to go back with Vic.
And she’d raised my hopes unduly, for a year, after she’d left me and moved into the flat, by pretending that she wanted to come back and live with me, when she hadn’t wanted to come back and live with me at all, for wanting to be with Vic.
And she’d driven me to distraction, at Brunswick Road by pretending she wanted to stay with me, when she hadn’t wanted to stay with me, at all, for wanting to be with Vic.
And she’d broken my heart at Brunswick Road, by causing me to become attached to Elizabeth, by pretending that she wanted me to bring her up as mine, when she hadn’t wanted me to bring her up as mine at all.
So, how could she have done anything so horrendous?
I have no idea.
She’d told me nothing but lies, for three years!
What had been the point?
Why did she tell me, when she left me to move into the flat, in July 1970, that it was because she’d wanted to live on her own, because she didn’t love Vic, and didn’t want to live with him, when she did love him and did want to live with him?
To prevent me divorcing her for adultery by making me think I had no grounds?
It looks like it, because before she’d left me, to walk up the drive and get into Vic’s car, she’d asked me if I would mind committing adultery with a prostitute, so that she could divorce me, which would have prevented me divorcing her too.
And why did she tell me when she moved in to live with Vic, at Titchfield, six months later, in January 1971, that she didn’t want to sleep with him, or have sex with him, because she didn’t love him, when she did want to sleep with him and have sex with him, because she did love him?
To prevent me divorcing her for adultery by making me think I still had no grounds?
It looks like it, because, the last thing she did, before I stopped seeing her at Titchfield, nine months later, in September 1971, was flaunt herself in front of me naked in an attempt to seduce me into having sex with her, so that she could say we’d reconciled, to prevent me divorcing her, too.
And why did she keep telling me for a year, after she’d left me to move into the flat, in July 1970, that she wanted to come back and live with me, when she didn’t want to come back and live with me at all?
To prevent me feeling free to get involved with somebody else, in case they persuaded me to divorce her?
It looks like it.
And why did she tell me, when she got pregnant that she wanted to stay with me and have me bring the baby up as mine, when she didn’t want to stay with me and have me bring the baby up as mine at all?
To prevent me divorcing her, too?
It looks like it, but I can see now that preventing me divorcing her wasn’t the only thing that it prevented.
It also prevented anybody finding out that she hadn’t just committed adultery in an open and decent manner, after leaving her husband, as was to be the case when I finally did divorce her in May 1972, but that she’d done it, in a devious and treacherous manner, behind her husband’s back, whilst still living with him, but had got caught out, by having got pregnant, in the process, about which she’d felt utterly disgusted, if the remarks she’d made after seeing “Women in Love”, are anything to go by, when she’d said in a tone of utter disgust:
“Well, it’s marvellous how some people can have unprotected sex, and get away with it, without getting pregnant, isn’t it?”, as if she thought that to have unprotected sex and not get away with it, by getting pregnant was the most horrendous thing that she could ever have imagined in a million years.
What was so horrendous about having unprotected sex and not getting away with it, by getting pregnant?
Because, in her case, the unprotected sex had been adultery, which meant, she’d got caught out committing adultery?
It looks like it.
So, what had been so bad about that?
The fact that it could result in her being divorced?
It looks like it.
So, what was so bad about that?
The fact that, on the one hand, she would be shown up to be utterly depraved, for having committed adultery, deviously and treacherously, behind her husband’s back, whilst still living with him, and on the other, would be shown up to be utterly stupid, for having got caught out in the process, by having got pregnant?
It looks like it, which would explain:
1. Why she’d looked so terrified in court, when she’d heard my barrister tell the judge that the baby’s paternity was in doubt, because she’d feared that she was going to be shown up.
2. Why she’d been so fuming when she’d heard I’d told the doctor that the baby was Vic’s, because she’d realized, that she had been shown up in the eyes of the doctor.
3. Why she’d been so fuming, when she’d heard me tell her on our car-ride through the Hampshire countryside that I’d been seeing “Yvonne”, behind her back for a year, and said venomously: “Well I want to go down and see her. I've been put through hell, for what I've done, so now I'm going to put her through it.” for thinking, on the one hand, that I was getting away with committing adultery, where she hadn’t been able to, and for being horrified, on the other, to think that I was going to leave her for Yvonne and divorce her and for wanting to go mad at Yvonne, and break us up.
4. Why she’d gone berserk and kicked me out of the car, when she’d heard me tell her that I’d made the story up, to see if she really wanted to stay with me, for being fuming to think that I’d wound her up, for nothing.
5. Why she’d been so irate, when she’d come over to my house, after seeing me in an apparently serious, romantic relationship with Christine, at the theatre, for thinking, on the one hand, that I was getting away with committing adultery, where she hadn’t been able to, and for feeling horrified on the other, to think I that I was going to divorce her to marry Christine, and for being hell-bent on catching us out, and going mad at Christine to break us up.
6. Why she’d gone berserk when she’d heard me tell her that I’d made the romantic relationship up, to see if she really wanted to come back with me, for being fuming to think that I’d wound her up, for nothing, again.
7. Why she’d sounded so regretful when she’d come home from seeing her brother, and told me that she’d “had” to tell him that the baby was Vic’s, because she hadn’t really wanted him to know. She’d wanted to keep it a secret, but he probably hadn’t believed her when she’d tried to get away with telling him the baby was mine, for knowing, on the one hand, that she’d been carrying on with Vic when she’d got pregnant in July, and, for knowing, on the other, that she’d hated me like poison.
Firstly, for trying to kiss his wife in the back of the taxi, for which he hated me even more, and secondly, for kissing Emma, in front of her face at the party, when I’d never kissed her at all, for thinking that she hadn’t wanted me to, for thinking she was “touch-me-not” like my mum and my grandmother, and thirdly, for making her think that I was in the middle of a long term romantic relationship with Emma, and had been seeing her for months, behind her back, when I pretended to go sailing.
8. Why she’d cried her eyes out and remained sitting out in the cold and the dark on the doorstep, when I’d tried to kick her out at Brunswick Road, for fearing I was going to divorce her.
9. Why she’d cried her eyes out in my car, in the Swan Inn car park, when she’d heard me tell her that I couldn’t see her anymore in, for knowing that I’d already started divorce proceedings.
10. Why she’d looked at me so tragically after attending the divorce hearing. It hadn’t been because she’d been grief-stricken to think she was going to have to spend her life with Vic. It had been because she’d been grief-stricken to think that I could have been so heartless as to have shown her up by branding her an adulteress.
And so, it seems that when she told me, in October 1969, that Vic had made her pregnant, but that she hated him, and wanted to stay with me and have me bring the baby up as mine, she’d done it for only one reason: to get my name on the baby’s birth certificate.
She’d planned it all out very carefully in advance.
So, does that mean that Vic knew what she was going to to?
Well, I would never have thought that he would have had anything to do with something as diabolical as that, in a million years, but I can see now that he did.
When Jill left me to move into the flat, in July 1970, she’d told me that Vic had bought it for her, and it takes at least six months to exchange contracts on a new flat, on top of which, he’d had to sell his own flat, in Cupernham, first, which suggests that he’d had to start advising his solicitor as far back as November 1969, if not before, and that once Jill had discovered, to her horror and disgust, that she was definitely pregnant in September 1969, she had already very carefully prepared her timetable and they both knew exactly what lay ahead and that:
1. After lunch on Sunday the 5th October 1969, Jill was going to tell me that Vic had made her pregnant, but that she hated him and wanted to stay with me and have me bring the baby up as mine, (although Vic probably didn’t know about the “hating” him, bit) and that,
2. On the afternoon of Sunday the 26th July 1970, nine months later, after having got my name on the baby’s birth certificate, she was going to tell me that she had to leave me and move into a flat on her own, because her family were pressuring her into it, but that she really wanted to come back, (although Vic probably didn’t know about the “wanting to come back”, bit) and that,
3. On the afternoon of Sunday the 24th January 1971, six months later, she was going to tell me that she had to move out of the flat because the neighbours were talking about her and was going to have to move in and live with Vic in Titchfield, although she wasn’t going to sleep with him or have sex with him, because she didn’t love him and really wanted to come back and live with me, (although Vic probably didn’t know about the “not loving him” and “wanting to come back with me” bit) when, they would finally be together at last,
which would explain:
1. Why she didn’t invite Vic to come round to see us for a chat, in October 1969, as I’d asked her to, because she’d been scared that he would say something incriminating, and I would work out what she was up to, and kick her out and divorce her, and,
2. Why she’d looked so pitiful, when he finally did come round to see us, five months later, in March, just before Elizabeth was born. It hadn’t been because she’d felt unhappy to hear him say that he would have kicked her out, if he’d been married to her, as I’d thought. It had been because she’d been petrified to think that he might say something incriminating and I would work out what she was up to, and kick her out and divorce her, as I’d kicked her out the evening before.
Although Vic had had to go along with what Jill wanted, for fear that she’d threatened never to leave me if he didn’t, it was clear that he wasn’t happy about it.
He’d been very disapproving of her behaviour, when he’d come round to see us for a chat, and had told her quite severely, in front of me, that what she was doing was not worthy of her, and had been even more disapproving when he’d told her off in front of me at West Street and said: “Anybody would have better than him!!”, about her having rung me up to go round to see her to help her with her coal-burning stove, when he’d actually been really disgusted and he’d probably been even more disapproving when they’d been on their own together, which would explain:
1. Why she’d sounded so concerned when she’d come back from seeing Vic to tell me that his mother had burst into tears to know that she was “going to rob her of her baby’s baby, and couldn’t believe that she could be so wicked”, for feeling guilty, and,
2. Why she’d looked so concerned when we’d gone to buy the baby-things at Tyrrell and Greens, for having felt guilty to think that she was sharing the unique pleasure with me, when she should have been sharing it with Vic, no doubt because he’d been disapproving at what she was doing, when she’d spoken to him on the phone about it, the evening before.
…. to be continued ……………
Elizabeth Gwen 27.4.70 by George Parker
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