Cerulean blue eyes . . . (episode 6)

3A Hyde Park Terrace
LONDON W2 5PH

April 1 1997

Dear mum (in law)

Thank you for your advice. I will try. I think I am afraid of what I might see, if I cross Hyde Park just after Austen.

I am sitting here at my dressing room table and looking into my mirror. My face is forty years old now and may be looking slightly baggier than it did ten years ago. I still have my long black hair (pinned back this morning by fuschia clips) and the same (I know I shouldn’t say this myself) beautiful body and black-lashed blue eyes. Austen – as you know – is the same age, but perhaps men wear better than women. What do you think mum?

Perhaps we married too early. Eighteen is very young. But when Austen was wheeled into the ward of Streamford hospital (having, as you know plummeted out of his ‘halls’ window en route to a tryst) all I could see – indeed any of us nurses could see – was debonair charm and a lock of blonde hair swinging back from his face. I think he knew, even then, how to engage his beautiful voice, and Cerulean blue eyes, in the seduction of women. Where did he learn this mum? Do they do this to you somehow at boarding school?

I think I hoped, when we married, that I would have a companion in whom I could trust and who would always adore me. That must sound very naive. But the reality of Austen is that he seems to think only of himself and, more than once, he has uttered the words, “My way or no way.” It is difficult to know what to make of a statement like that. Up to recently, I think I have always wanted to think the best of everybody – indeed I may have been projecting goodness for my whole life so far – but perhaps the question I should (finally) be asking myself is: is Austen really a good man? It is still difficult to think honestly about that because Austen, when he suffers some kind of setback from behind the scenes (a setback he would never discuss with me) he is just about as endearing and lovable as any man on the face of the planet.

The counsellor at the alcohol rehabilitation centre seemed to think I might be suffering from a condition called ‘thrall’ which appears to mean – when all is said and done – that I have turned into some kind of doormat who lives only to please my husband. But even if this is, to some degree true, I have been ably assisted in it by Austen – who has always extolled the practice of motherhood and abhorred any sign of interest in anything else. That reminds me mum. The twins went up to university last September and (so far) all seems to be going well.

I must go out and walk Ferris now; he has grown into a fine dog. People are always saying that Labradors (especially black ones like him) have coats which gleam in the sunlight – and this is certainly true. Thanks for all your news about cats by the way; I have always liked them as you know.

Your loving daughter (in law)

Harriet

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