Friday, 30 November 2012


Eve, the boys and I spent our first day in Frigiliana unloading the trailer and carrying our worldly goods up the street watched by the neighbours, mainly old widows in black and two village idiots who were referred to as such but loved and very much looked after by the caring community. These young men, probably in their late teens, were to become our companions for several weeks, following us wherever we went but never beyond the boundaries of the pueblo until they lost interest in us as a novelty. All they did was gape and occasionally laugh at something odd that amused them, sometimes taking their trousers down to defecate but always caught in time by a vigilant abuela ( granny ) or tia (aunty) never far away.
 Our new home on the top floor of an old house consisted of two bedrooms and a huge area with undulating floor which served as a sitting room, dining room and kitchen. The bathroom was not much more than a cupboard with washbasin and shower reached by stepping over a lavatory, but this minor inconvenience was made up by access to a large terrace that overlooked a beautiful valley peppered with olive trees and grape vines, a panorama of impressive mountains, Nerja in the distance and, beyond, the sparkling blue Mediterranean, all bathed in bright, warm sunshine from eight in the morning till nine at night.
 It was on this terrace, a few days after we had settled in, when Eve had just come back from ringing her mother from the local phone box and the boys were outside in the street playing with new found friends, that I made the biggest mistake of my life.
 We were enjoying a glass of cold white wine in the sun and I asked her how things were in London.
 'Mother is very upset,' Eve said.
 'Because of our move ?'
 'That and something else, which is pretty unsettling for me.'
  I waited to hear more.
 Major Bill had, for some reason, confirmed, since our departure, something Doris had suspected for most of their married life but never mentioned. During the war, when serving in the army in Normandy he’d had an affair with the French landlady of the house where he was billeted resulting in the birth of a daughter.
 'God!' I said lightly, amused by the idea of Major Bill getting into such hot water, 'You’ve got a half sister like me then, another little bastard. Sex rules the world!' and I added, to sort of minimize her distress and put things in perspective, 'Like sex has ruled us.'
 'What do you mean?'  Eve’s tone was suddenly uncharacteristically severe.
  I should have seen red warning lights flashing, but I didn’t. I blundered on.
 ' and Peter, and me and.......'
  'You and who? What do you mean me and Peter?  What do you mean?  You and who?'
 I was so taken aback by her quite unexpected rancour that I was nonplussed. We had surely both read enough books and seen enough plays and films concerning domestic upsets for her not to be so irked. She knew about my background, Eddy not being my father, my mother and  Pierre, Maman and her gossiping with prostitutes. In my humorous thrillers most of the conflicts arose out of sexual partnerships which went wrong.
  'Well...'I said, too lamely, ' I thought you might have been having an affair with Peter and ...'
  'And what ?'
  'I  had a brief affair in London.....'
  If, in the past few years I had been irritated by Eve’s lack of energy, not doing much to help when we were entertaining friends, smoking a cigarette unconcerned when I was moving furniture in the antique shop for her, or while I fed the children and put them to bed. If I had noticed that she was paying less attention to her appearance, not bothering with her hair, her nails, wearing the same clothes day in day out, there was one thing that I had never fully appreciated and that was her undeniable honesty and now, I realized, her naivety and total absence of suspicion.
 My insouciant confession devastated her.
 'How could you think I’d have anything to do with Peter like that ? And how could you......'
 'I’m sorry,' I said, reaching out for her. 'It didn’t mean anything. It wasn’t anything serious.....'
 She got to her feet.
 'I never thought you’d be like other silly men.  I never imagined that you could be so thoughtless and stupid,'  she said, then asked. 'Is she anyone I know?'
  'No. It’s in the past. It wasn’t serious. It didn’t mean anything.'
  She turned and walked straight past me, through the living room, quickly down the stairs and out of the house.
  I followed her, but the front door slammed shut.  I went to the bedroom window that overlooked the street. She was standing there confused, unsure which way to go, hugging her waist tightly, right hand extended with fingers holding an inevitable cigarette.
 I felt sick but not as sick as she must have then been feeling.
 What I had just confessed was hideous in its inexpectancy.
 I knew it would never be the same between us now.
 With but a few totally unnecessary words, I had lost her trust and respect. From now on I would not be able to show affection without her doubting my sincerity.
 I had destroyed our relationship. There was a chance I could make amends, of proving to her that it was a minor aberration and that she might forgive me, but right then I had no idea how I would do that nor how we would manage the future.  

1 comment:

  1. Really...?? REALLY!? Sometimes I am glad I already know how some of your stories will end because some other times I just feel like punching or... (face palm)