How many times had she come up this very avenue , under the
canopy of trees . Christmas, autumn winter,
She crept close to the drawing room window,
Shh -. He huddled in the lee of her body.
Above the window ledge the strains of Christmas music drifting out punctuated by peals of laughter.
They little chamber music inside were jolly . The were laughing at the little errors of punctuation that themerriment the sweet wine had allowed.
They started a slow air this time. An air she knew well.
She waited for the cello to come in and when her heart gave a shudder . It struck her with a searing sadness, and she felt the stir of life in her.
How many times.. she saw these lawns in manicured splendour . The pony in the field and the chestnut trees swooning over the avenue.The orchard with the sweet smel of apples ripening on the trees in September. The art gallery where they painted . Later to be called the studio.
The Bently in the yard , and the sailing boat upturned ,Frank was awlays fixing , patching ,. Caulk and cotton - she remembered with a sudden vividness ; caullk and cotton , and a pleasent smelling wax like you'd smell in a leather shop.
-Maa I'm cold , -he urged . She looked at him unkindly .
She had difficulty enough what with giving up the drink and all. She didn't need the petulance of a sulking son.
Haggard , heedless to conceal her straitened circumstances. It didn't matter now.Nothing did . Appearences , vanities . Clothes ! So much fuss always ; fashion - so what .
What mattered now.
Enough , sufficient ; sufficiency .
She remembers writing an essay in school about ' sufficiency'
Some sufficiency. What did the middle classes know about sufficiency - other that to instill in their spoiled children the notion that they were better off than the poor. - that's all it meant . A self glib sense of satisfaction once the classy words were put down. Then the could all relax and be assured d that their consciences were appeased. Go to mass assured that they'd been Christian - suffeciency - yea !
She heard the strains now of another air . This time more familiar . She mouthed the words of the carol as the refrain ended.
The voice of an older woman started uncertainly - older and enfeebled now - she listened as the boy tugged at her sleeve and swayed in protest.
-In a minute.. She seethed,. She listened , rapt - somewhere in another world , and for a moment it was drawing her like a spiritual rapture - drawing her to the.. somewhere ..some fuck place !
- go on then .
He went to the hall door scarcely able to reach the bell. He rang it standing on his toes.
The music trailed of.
She moved along the shrubbery as the door opened . A frail old man in a dressing gown looked down perplexed at the little figure.
-Collie- he called , a little despair in his anxious voice , and a woman in her seventies came bdhind his shoulder.
- yes - little man- the older man said.
- where did he come from !
The rest of the orchestra were now huddled in the hall feeling the draft rushing in.
The boy said nothing . He just held out his hand and looked up. Without pride .
She heard someone say
- My god !
- its Mary Clares child !
- Good Lord !
- child, come in out of the cold.!!
-Where did you come from ....
-where's your Mum.. how did you get...
She went along the back streets ,along the canal , and came to the docks , where she heard the painful refrain of his latest composition.
Boarding the tied up trawler she ignored the fiddler playing wistfully , his papers strewn all around him.
He heard her .
Yes I did !
So ! - he's with his grand pappy now -?
She said nothing , loading the last of their provisions into the available cabin space.
He resumed his unfinished aria .
She started to gut a mackel , and thought how many times they'd caught mackeral along the promenade . The boat trips on the bay , Different times ..and that spiritual ddraw dam thing started again , and that fucken word ' suffeciency '
She looked around the cabin of the old trawler. - two bunks . A
stove . a pull- down table. and his music scattered all around
-what time is full tide - she asked indifferently
- 12.30 - he said .
We'll be clearing the pier soon then.
Yea ! - What's the fuss - we just .. Do it ..ok ?
There was no anchor . He just untied the boat from the bollard and as the engine trottled over she just slipped into the night , past the pier head, past the lighthouse . The lights from the promenade twinkled like a memory in that spiritual draw which still gripped her somewhere in her being .. let it fuckin go.. fuck 'suffeciency ' .. fuck the cello ..
The course was set west .
She uncorked a bottle of wine - what the hell ..
- a Bently !- she uttered a bitter little sound- almost a dribble - like happiness gone sour .
He played on . The boat was on automatic pilot.
What the fuck ..what was that dam air anyway.. It was still swirling around in her head. He'd know it if she hummed a few bars. She did , in her head , Slowly .. Jimmy Mo Mhile Stor .
Wat the fuck !.She raised her glass to the passing lights ; passing the golf course now .
- Fore - she said and the acrid laugh dribbled from her lips again .
- Fore to ye all !! She drank deeply and sighed at it all. Bring it fuckin on !
Extraordinary what you could do with sat nav.