MY mother hobbles into our living room, a walking stick in each hand. Breathless, she asks, “How is she darling?”
Before I can answer my father bursts into the room, laden with bags. “I hope you’re pleased with yourself David. She should be at home, resting. Not…”
“Lawrence, please. We’re here to see Emma.”
“No, it’s important that he knows Cathy, damn it.” He slams the bags down and glares at my mother. “I’d love a cup of tea,” my mother says and turning away from my father, she continues in a stage whisper, “Your father might prefer something stronger. Arsenic perhaps.”
“Sit down mum. I’ll make tea.”
“May I go up?”
“Yes. She’s not sleeping. She’d like to see you.”
My mother hobbles from the room.
“Well?” my father demands.
“Dad, I didn’t ask you to come. Mum wanted…”
“Of course she wanted. She’s always run around behind you. But she doesn’t know what’s good for her.”
Upstairs, Noel bursts from his bedroom. “Granny!” Our bedroom door opens and closes. It is quiet.
“I’m sorry dad. I’ve been worried about Emma. And about… the twins too.”
It’s hard to say “the twins”. Makes them too real. And their fragile, precious lives are suddenly at risk. One, it seems, is perilously small. And if one is at risk, they both are. Emma has been told to rest.
“You ever think…” my father begins. But he is choked.
“Two little souls. Competing to survive. You and your damned competition,” he spits. “Just destructive… And ironic, no?” My father’s life had been eviscerated by competition, along with most of British engineering. He is sceptical about my occupation.
“These are my children. Your grandchildren.” Tears prick my eyes. We look at one another, across a vast gulf.
City Dad will be continued next Tuesday. For previous City Dad episodes, see www.cityam.com