“Don’t tell my father,” Paul said.
“What do you mean?”
“I mean, don’t tell that to my father. It’ll just wind him up even more”
“He’s being stupid.”
“And what’s more…”
“I agree with you,” Paul said.
Harriet pursed her lips and swung the car round into Cheyne Walk. “I don’t see why he’s making such a fuss about it.”
“Look – I agree with you,” Paul said again. They paused for the traffic, then turned left, by Thomas More’s church and into a narrow street barely wide enough for two Volvos to pass. Stained with bird droppings, the statue of the great Humanist stared gloomily out across the Embankment and the sludge-sluggish Thames. Paul stared gloomily back.
“We might want to get married oneday,” he added peevishly.
“That’s not the point. Of course I might. We might. But the more he goes on and on and on about it, the more vile the idea sounds.”
Paul winced. It seemed appalling that, thanks to his father’s obsession, they were on the threshhold of argument about a matter in which they were in agreement.
“I really don’t know why he’s so fixated about our getting married,” Harriet went on.
“That’s the way he is. Morals are everything to him.”
“Well, I resent the idea that we’re so…so immoral.”
“By his standards we are, I suppose.”
“Well, he doesn’t have to inflict his morals on us.”
“I’m sure he doesn’t mean to,” Paul said.
“Of course he does. That’s just what he means to do.”
“Well, I suppose he does, really,” Paul conceded.
Harriet pulled up outside an elegant eighteenth century town house that was just like all the other elegant eighteenth century town houses in the street.
“Well, here we are,” she said, wrenching up the hand brake.
“He can’t help it,” Paul said. “He is what he is. He means well for us”
Harriet shrugged, as if to indicate that she thought what he was saying was drivel but that she wasn’t prepared to argue the toss at present. Paul was relieved she did not wish to continue the row on the threshold of his parents’ house, particularly on such a familiar and insoluble topic.
• The rest of this story is now available in a paperback book (as are 25 others) – Unaccustomed as I Am (RRP £9.95).
It is stocked by the Hungerford Bookshop and you can place your order here.
Copies are also available at the White Horse Bookshop in Marlborough, the Mad Hatter Bookshop in Wantage and through an increasing number of other retailers.
You can order it from any bookshop: they will need to know that the ISBN is 978-1-8382580-0-9 and that it can be ordered from Gardners or Central Books.