The Linnet's Wings :Take All My Loves, My Love - Page 73

The Linnet´s Wings bed looking over Durham towards the cathedral. May- be someone over there or in there could make sense of this, I thought, because I couldn’t. The next six months remain mostly a blur. I got through it, with the help of Josie, James and several oth- ers, in so far as I survived and kept myself on course for some kind of a degree, but nothing could be the same, I knew, and as the weeks went by, my mood darkened more and more. I could see it, and I knew those around me could see it as well, but there seemed no way to stop it happening, the growing cancer of suspicion and dis- trust within me. Dad had told me on more than one occasion when the subject of his safety came up, as it obviously will for anyone who spends a lot of time climbing mountains, that he and Stuart had a regular routine which involved thoroughly checking each other’s equipment, including the harnesses, before setting off on any climb. Since they were such experienced and respected climbers, I doubt- ed anyone else would be involved. So if Dad had, for once, checked his equipment and missed something, might Stuart had made some decision about not pick- ing up on it? Every time my thoughts turned in this direction, I would dismiss it as being absurd; my father and uncle were devoted to each other and always had been. But, also every time, that scene I saw as I returned from my run would come back to haunt me – his hands, his face, her apparent acquiescence – and the time it took me to dismiss the idea as absurd became longer and longer, un- til I reached the point of recognising that I no longer saw it as being absurd at all. My uncle was in love with my mother, so strongly that even doing away with his own brother had to happen to clear his path. 1982 is a year I will always remember with a shudder. As it went on, I felt myself to be in something like a trance, going through the motions – the funeral procession, with hundreds lining the street, the media tributes, from some famous people I didn’t even know my father knew, my drunken binge nights on the town with James, trying to get into punch-ups and occasion- ally succeeding, my frantic, over-energetic love-making with Josie which sometimes alarmed and worried her – all drifted by in a kind of blur. Even Stuart’s stricken face at the funeral didn’t allay my suspicions, and the very physical way he and my mother were consoling each other didn’t either. Then, as I was readying myself to leave the Uni- versity in late June, with exams over and results to come, the blow fell. My morale was low to begin with; Josie’s patience was at last wearing thin, I was not expecting anything more than a mediocre degree, 2.2. at best, and that probably wouldn’t help too much in getting the job which had so far eluded me. Yes, I could work in the fam- ily business, as James dryly described it, making a shrine and a musuem to my father, as well as continuing the courses and catering for them. But being permanently in the company of my mother and Stuart was more than I could stomach. A long letter arrived from my mother, written in the style she used when she wanted to persuade me of something she knew I wouldn’t like very much, cajoling, almost pleading at times, with a little judicious flattery thrown in. ‘I think the remaining family does need to be together now, darling, and James is being difficult about that, but he has always looked up to you, and rightly so, of course, and if you are able to come home and stay home for a while, it may also bring him back. No-one and nothing can replace your father, we both know that, but that’s all the more reason why we need to come to- gether. I should tell you, Duncan, because there will be no secrets between us, that your uncle and I have made an unofficial engagement arrangement, with a view to marrying sometime next year, so as to not be too close to the loss of your father. I am too vulnerable now to go on alone, darling; your uncle is not your father, but he is the closest I have, I have known him as long as I’ve known your father, and starting again with someone entirely new would be too much for me, as would remaining 73