The gates to the college building were padlocked although I’d been told by a receptionist when I checked that doors would be open and canteen area accessible. Misinformed, I was angry but there wasn’t much I could do about it except wait.
Catherine was hailed. Then John, and finally Jacqui. I regaled them with my earlier outburst against Diana and Jacqui followed with an account of the confusion in her office because of people coming back after having deserted London owing to the Olympics. She said we all had different styles. I countered that theirs was the same: fiction, in the third person past. John told us he was making heavy weather of proof-reading his book, Human Pages. I didn’t compete by saying the corrections to CORRESPONDENCE I was supposed to check hadn’t been sent me, more or less par for that course. After waiting, in case Kevin and Jan turned up, we resorted to a bench on Little Green, and read till the dying of the light, Jacqui first. She’d started something new and more or less met the topic of soliloquy by giving a Xmas from the perspective of a grandmother whose son is missing. It was good.
I made sure Tree in a Field was by her in order to buy that, her political novel. John was shaken I wasn’t offering to buy his. Need I explain? He’d told me he wouldn’t buy ‘the book’ because he wouldn’t read it. On principle I’m unlikely to buy any book of his.
Catherine came next with her second story of a projected six which will end where the first began (if I’ve got that right). It was about a girl, who prides herself on her hair, being dragooned into having it restyled and precipitately fleeing the barber’s chair. It was funny.
John had nothing to read out.
I read out that part of ‘the book’ which contains Mum’s feminist soliloquy on what she might not have achieved if she didn’t have the weak egos of men, husband and sons, to bolster with little thanks but it was mainly to do with her giving Johnny a reason to live and get the fuck out of the timestop they were in thanks to his man ie spirit. John cavilled as John does at the child’s inordinate skills. I explained Johnny had admitted in the previous part his man was him, the skills were spiritual, along Xian lines of body and spirit in one.
Jacqui asked if that was the end. “Oh no. I think the next part’s about death.”
Catherine liked the relationship between Mum and Johnny.
I brought them up to date on mine with Prison John after a meeting with his probation officer and my victims liaison officer which depressed me. They said he’d kicked the murdered man when he was down and stoved his head in with a brick. “Do you sometimes think there’s something wrong with you?” I asked of my propensity for bad people. It does make life interesting. “Good material,” Jacqui observed.