Monday 6th February
1 – The first meeting
It never stopped raining that Spring, or so it seemed as I struggled with my finals, too much rain and gloom and I wondered whether the real Spring; you know sunshine, flowers, all of that stuff, would ever arrive. But the gloom of that perpetual cold and drizzle was finally lifted sometime late in April, just after Easter in fact. I had been home for the hols, a four week break where I was supposed to finish off my final dissertation, ready to be handed in the second week of May. My tutor was always reminding me of the importance of getting it in early, ‘so we could revise and work it up together’. Not that he could possibly interfere you understand, that would be quite unethical, but if he got a chance to see the way I was shaping the thing he might be able to put a few pointers in my way, help me to find a path to success. And of course I knew only too well, that that would entail the inevitable rewrite of the whole thing. And nothing seemed less appetising I can assure you. I was beginning to think that Law was a mistake, five wasted years when I could have been having fun, or at least studying something I liked, not this dry dead subject. Most of my old sixth-form friends were out there working now, or teaching, or like Rodney travelling the world, actually doing something with their lives, while I spent my days burrowing into heavier and thicker and dustier old law books. Was it really necessary to know so much anyway; how much of it could I possibly need? And the worst regret of course was that I was simply doing it all for my father, not because I had the slightest interest in the law at all, not because it had been my desire, my choice, but simply to please my father. I had spent my whole life trying to please him, and for all of those twenty three years of effort there seemed precious little to show for it. Nothing I ever achieved seemed good enough for him. He still barely acknowledged my existence; whether I was back home or away at college seemed not to bother him at all, there was no pleasure when he saw me, no real conversation with me at all, a grunt, a nod in my direction over his paper, but nothing resembling any connection.. Did the old fool not realise I was doing all this for him, because he wanted me to study law, because I stupidly thought I would be pleasing him if I did well, he might actually be proud of my graduating, he might actually say well done. He was in Medicine, but had definitely stated his opposition to my following him, “One Doctor in the family is one too many,” he had said, “Why not read law, you could do far worse than law you know. Wish I’d had the gumption to become a lawyer, instead of looking at sick people and their flabby bodies all day long. I would have been far better suited to a courtroom than a clinic.”
And so I had read law, without thinking of the consequences, and anyway what the hell do you know at seventeen. Two years in and I was beginning to regret my hasty decision, I fancied banking, or business of some sort, I had a couple of pals whose dads were stockbrokers and they were already dabbling in shares, and I was tempted to chuck it all in and try my luck in the City, but as usual I flunked it. No bottle when it came to it, I suppose. All talk when I’d had a few pints but not a rebel at all I am afraid in the cold light of day. So I felt I was sort of stuck with law, and some-days it wasn’t at all bad you know, besides, my Dad, for all his taciturnity and lack of any real emotion, wasn’t such a bad old stick, he had pulled a few favours in and I was already almost guaranteed a clerkship in a Solicitor’s in a small market town not so far from Norwich. “Get your head down there for a couple of years, take on whatever they throw at you, make yourself indispensable and, before you know where you are, old Jameson’ll make you a junior partner. He’ll want to retire in a few years I’m sure, so he’ll be looking to get out and leave the practise in safe hands. You mark my words, my boy. Get in there and get your head down for a few years.” And so, my whole future seemed planned out for me, why not go the whole hog though Dad and choose my wife for me, oh, and you’d better make sure and impregnate her yourself, you wouldn’t want a little twerp like me to botch that up for you, now would you.
But actually that whole task fell to me entirely I am glad to say, my Dad never really met her until a month before the wedding and we had well and truly discovered that, little twerp or not, my equipment was in perfect working order, thank-you very much Dad.