Friday 30th September
He was beginning to think that reading Law had been a big mistake. Five wasted years when he could have been having fun, or at least studying something he liked, not this dry and dreary old subject. Most of his old sixth-form chums were out there working now and earning money, or teaching or travelling – or married even, seeing a bit of the world. They were actually doing something with their lives, while he was spending day after day burrowing into ever heavier and dustier old law books. Was it really necessary to know so much stuff anyway; how much of it could he possibly need? And the worst regret of course was that he was simply doing it all for his father and not because he had the slightest interest in the law at all, not because it had been his desire, his choice. But he had gone along with it simply to please his father, a Consultant Surgeon, who had categorically stated his opposition to his only son following him.
“One Doctor in the family is one too many,” he had said with that wry smile of his, “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.”
Well, who knows if that is true, but Phil at eighteen had no idea what to do either and his father, who had no such hesitation, kept nagging at him to study law. Phil knew that his father was a hard act to follow and maybe he was right; so he had read Law and was now regretting his own lack of decisiveness. He had grown up knowing that his father was right in everything, in fact in every way he was so impossibly ‘right’ that Phil felt he would never live up to the example he set him, lawyer or not. And even now, almost five years later, Phil still felt indecisive, unsure of himself, so damned self-conscious and just as fearful of upsetting his father or rather of inducing one his father’s disapproving looks. In many ways he was scared of this self-assured father; not that he had ever raised a hand against the boy, his authority was deeper than that, but Phil was fearful of letting him down, of failing him in some way, of not living up to his idea of what a son should be.
He had spent his whole life quietly trying to please this stern and distant father, and for each of those twenty-three years of effort there seemed precious little to show. Nothing Phil ever achieved seemed good enough for him. He felt that sometimes his father barely seemed to acknowledge his existence; whether he was back home or away at college appeared not to bother him either way; there was no gleam of pleasure in his eye when he saw the young man, no real conversation at all, a grunt, a nod in his direction over his paper, but nothing resembling any real connection. In fact Phil could barely remember ever having a meaningful conversation with his father at all; they seemed to always end up talking in platitudes, polite platitudes that never even began to scratch the surface, and so often there would be more silence than talking and Phil would sit there saying nothing but desperately trying to fill in the missing spaces with anything that might spark some reaction from his father. If only he could find the words, but law student or not, with his own father those words that might mean something, anything other than this polite and frigidly meaningless chit-chat, constantly eluded him,
‘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,’ thought Phil looking at the back of Daily Telegraph, hoisted like a barrier at the breakfast table between his father and him ‘I had hoped he might genuinely be proud of my graduating, he might actually for once say ‘Well done, son.’ His self-pitying musings interrupted by his father saying “Phillip? Wake up son, and pass the marmalade, there’s a good fellow.”
And so he had settled for Law, without thinking of the consequences – and anyway what the hell does anyone know at eighteen. A few years in and he was definitely beginning to regret that hasty decision. He fancied dropping law and going into banking, or business of some sort, he had a couple of pals whose dads were stockbrokers and they were already dabbling in shares. He was tempted to chuck it all in and try his luck in the City, but as usual he flunked it. No bottle when it actually came to it, always scared of that stern father who would be horrified at the idea. All talk when he had a few pints inside him but not a rebel at all in the cold light of day. And this very lack of determination contributed to his misery, he despised his own inability to do something, anything different, so he stuck with Law just like his Dad had wanted him to. But for all his taciturnity and lack of any real show of emotion his father was quietly watching over his son, sometimes almost despairing at his apparent aimlessness, and he had pulled a few favours in and young Phil was already almost guaranteed a clerkship in a Solicitor’s in a small market town not so far from Norwich. All the boy had to do was turn up for the interview and show willing.
“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 will make you a junior partner. He’ll be wanting to retire in a few years time; likes his golf too much to hang around in the office long past sixty. He’ll be looking to get out and leave the Practice in safe hands. Mark my words, my boy. Get in there and get your head down for a few years.” ‘And so’, Phil thought ‘my whole future seems to be 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 while you are at it, 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 Phil entirely. His Dad never met June until a few months before the wedding and Phil had well and truly discovered that, little twerp or not, his equipment was in perfect working order, thank-you very much Dad. No help needed in that department after all.
* * *
God that first time was so amazing. Really fantastic, far better than she had ever imagined it would be. She had almost dreaded it in a way, some of the girls at school had said that it would hurt like hell, and that you would bleed for days after. And they insisted that you couldn’t possibly enjoy it the first time either. Well they were wrong; so wrong. For June it was amazing, not only the first time either, but every time after that too. She couldn’t believe anything could be this fantastic, this pleasurable, this satisfying; simply this right. And she had known from the first time she saw him that she wanted him to do it to her, no doubt about that at all. She had never felt that with a boyfriend before; you know that queasy feeling when you can hardly stand up for the desire burning a hole right through your tummy, that yearning need, that intensity of desire, but it was there with him right from the start, from the first moment she saw him. She knew she had to have him and it wasn’t long before she did.
* * *