November 23 1999
3A Hyde Park Terrace
LONDON W2 5ZZ
Thanks for bringing your bicycle (and yourself) to see me last week. I was sorry to hear about your difficulties exiting the guard’s van, but then pedals, and handles, do rather wind themselves around every projection, don’t they. And from the look of your scuffed left knee, they also wind themselves around the physical person of the cyclist herself . . . However, I must say that it was most easy to spot you on the platform at Paddington, owing to the fluorescent quality of your outfit. Where did you get those shoes? I should think they must be visible at about a thousand paces!
My only recent event was a near nose-to-nose encounter with Austen near a Zebra crossing last week. I had just exited from Hyde Park and was making my way home via the crossing and its attendant Beleisha beacons. Am I spelling that right Mum? I’m not sure. In any event, they were their usual spherical – and orange – illuminated selves and stationed at either end of the crossing. Austen, meanwhile, was slinking along on the other side of the road, accompanied by one of his golden Labradors, the one named Barkis (‘is willing’ . . . I thought when I saw the dog).
I don’t know if he had any intention of using the crossing but, if he did, when he saw me, he thought better of it. And I, sighting him, realized how far I had come – in the direction away from him – over the past four years. I had absolutely no physical pang of pain whatsoever when I realized who it was and merely felt determined not to deviate from my intended path. Austen, who has never uttered one word of remorse, or apology, for the devastation of his adultery decided to look at me sideways and essay a low ‘Hello.’ Well Mum. I expect he does want the whole thing to be over, and for us to be on a chummy footing, and to be able, even, to walk down my road (which offers up a shorter route to Hyde Park). However, without an expression of remorse – and an apology – I feel unable to forgive it or forget it. And this, as far as I can see, is where matters must rest, in perpetuity.
Luckily, at that moment, a car approached the crossing from my right and I had to pause and wait for it to stop. This sent Austen ahead of me down the road which led left (to the curtain shop) and right to Hyde Park Terrace. I walked behind Austen, on the same side of the pavement, and neither of us uttered a single word. I had not smiled. I did not speak. I did focus my eyes when he crossed over the road, for this indicated that he might not be turning in the direction of my own home. For, if he had gone that way, I really do think I would have uttered some blast of wrath and further singed his ears. I believe I saw both him, and the dog, then turn left and enter the curtain shop . . . I must admit Mum that I giggled somewhat when I saw this, for was he really intending to go in there? And did he come out with an order for several set of curtains? Ho ho!
All love anyway
Your former daughter-in-law (but not any longer)