She had my letters…

I saw my parents for lunch on Friday, with their grandsons A and L, who they hadn’t seen for about a year. The boys aren’t difficult to make talk: you just ask them how they are…

Only my parents don’t do this. Instead my dad says nothing, smilingly, and my mother goes on and on about something… The NADFAS lecture at Aldeburgh…
To spice things up, I embarked on my worst ever Oxford story, which I’ve been going over in my head because their eldest grandson J has just had an interview at Cambridge (and apologies if I’ve told you before…)

I was a bit depressed in my second year at Oxford, 1982/3. I had a one-on-one tutorial with Dr Waller, now the senior Merton emeritus professor of modern history blah blah blah. 
He said: Had I heard of the IRA, because they had need of professional mourners? I could go and work for them…
As a ‘bon mot’ it was (vaguely) witty. But as a thing to say to a depressed 18-year-old, it left something to be desired.

But 36 years on, I could finally TALK about it, and see the ‘funny’ side… I was just too embarrassed and WTF to tell ANYONE before now. (I just gave up on ‘pastoral careand went to the movies… AGAIN.)
All I wanted my mother to do was say: Oh, that wasn’t a very nice thing to say… 
But instead she said tetchily that she had my letters from Oxford and they were full of that sort of thing and really, couldn’t I forget it.
And we went back to saying nothing. 
I (jokingly) discussed the weather…


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I had a stroke on July 26th, 2013. I was a screenwriter. Don’t do that anymore. But have found another way to write.

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