WHEN I TURN UP at my parents’ house that afternoon without warning, saying I want to stay for a
Few days, I can’t say they seem shocked.
In fact, so unsurprised do they seem that I begin to wonder if they’ve been expecting this eventuality all
Along, ever since I moved to London. Have they been waiting every week for me to arrive on the
Doorsteps with no luggage and red eyes? They’re certainly behaving as calmly as a hospital casualty team
Operating an emergency procedure.
Except that surely the casualty team wouldn’t keep arguing about the best way to resuscitate the patient?
After a few minutes, I feel like going outside, letting them decide on their plan of action, and ringing the
“You go upstairs and have a nice hot bath,” says Mum, as soon as I’ve put down my handbag. “I expect
“She doesn’t have to have a bath if she doesn’t want to!” retorts Dad. “She might want a drink! D’you
Want a drink, darling?”
“Is that wise?” says Mum, shooting him a meaningful what-if-she’s-an-alkie? look, which presumably
I’m not supposed to notice.
“I don’t want a drink, thanks,” I say. “But I’d love a cup of tea.”
“Of course you would!” says Mum. “Graham, go and put the kettle on.” And she gives him another
Meaningful look. As soon as he’s disappeared into the kitchen, she comes close to me and says, in a
Lowered voice, “Are you feeling all right, darling? Is any-thing. . . wrong?”
Oh God, there’s nothing like your mother’s sympathetic voice to make you want to burst into tears.
“Well,” I say, in a slightly uncertain voice. “Things have been better. I’m just. . . in a bit of a difficult
at the moment. But it’ll be all right in the end.” I give a small shrug and look away.
“Because. . .” She lowers her voice even more. “Your father isn’t as old-fashioned as he seems. And I
Know that if it were a case of us looking after a. . . a little one, while you pursued your career. . .”
“Mum, don’t worry!” I exclaim sharply. “I’m not pregnant!”
“I never said you were,” she says, and flushes a little. “I just wanted to offer you our support.”
My parents watch too many soap operas, that’s their trouble. In fact, they were probably hoping I was
Pregnant. By my wicked married lover whom they could then murder and bury under the patio.
And what’s this “offer you our support” business, anyway? My mum would never have said that before
She started watching Ricki Lake.
“Well, come on,” she says. “Let’s sit you down with a nice cup of tea.”
And so I follow her into the kitchen, and we all sit down with a cup of tea. And I have to say, it is very
Nice. Hot strong tea and a chocolate bourbon biscuit. Perfect. I close my eyes and take a few sips, and
Then open them again, to see both my parents gazing atme with naked curiosity all over their faces.
Immediately my mother changes her expression to a smile, and my father gives a little cough – but I can
Tell, they are gagging to know what’s wrong.
“So,” I say cautiously, and both their heads jerk up. “You’re both well, are you?”
“Oh yes,” says my mother. “Yes, we’re fine.”
There’s another silence.
“Becky?” says my father gravely, and both Mum and I swivel to face him. “Are you in some kind of
Trouble we should know about? Only tell us if you want to,” he adds hastily. “And I want you to
Know – we’re there for you.”