Sunday, 14 August 2016
A Sad Parable Of Perfidy
`What do you do when a man in his sixties quite unexpectedly announces that he has met the love of his life and has decided to make enormous changes that will have ongoing repercussions for all around him?’ This was the question Judith a fellow blogger here on a suddenly organized visit from Northern Ireland posed over a rather late breakfast earlier this month. We were sitting in La Cigale, under one of the ceiling heaters but half shivering because for Auckland the day was cold. The question came out of the blue directly after the protracted conversation where, as usual she criticized my blog posts for lack of robust comment. I pointed out that there had certainly been robust comment on the tribute I had placed after a death in the family earlier in the year. `Ah but that came from a relative,’ said Judith irritatingly, `That doesn’t count – we all know family will stab you in the back quicker than anybody.’ And of course when you stop and think about it, she was right. Judith is invariably right, which is one of the things so infuriating about her. `I suspect you delete anything negative,’ she announced so accusingly I nearly choked into the remains of my latte and responded that there she was absolutely, one hundred per cent wrong for once. I had been thinking about her question concerning the man in his sixties, he who was about to leave her for a much younger woman. She had not yet admitted that the deserter was the man she had been married to for more than thirty years but when I asked her directly she simply nodded slowly, her eyes narrowing and quite surprisingly devoid of tears. And over the next hour the entire story, wretched and sordid in parts, emerged – at least, her side of it. She would not have noticed his faithlessness in the first place had he not announced he must lose weight, rid himself of the facial hair that he out of the blue decided aged him unnecessarily, and doused himself with expensive cologne on a daily basis. `He even joined a gym!’ she proclaimed managing to make it sound like partaking in child molestation, `and as for that beard, I’d been asking him to shave it off for years but he never would for me.’ It appeared he had been somewhat casually introduced to his new love on a boys’ night out after a football game at Wembley Stadium. To add insult to injury Judith herself had bought him the much sought after game ticket as a birthday present. Now she said she should never have done that or, better still, she should have bought two tickets and gone to the game with him and she might even have done so if only they were not quite so expensive and she didn’t hate football quite so much. I asked how many people knew of her marital dilemma and she admitted that though it was hard to tell, he was not exactly keeping it a secret. `His football going mates all know and possibly their wives,’ she said, adding that she felt demoralized and humiliated. `He’s even deliberately introduced her to some people – how could he do that?’ She showed me a blurred and indistinct image of the woman in question, printed from a Facebook page. `She comes from Taiwan and speaks very little English,’ she now spoke in a more business-like, matter of fact voice, `He’s rented a flat in South London where apparently they will live together.’ I handed the slightly crumpled A4 page back to her and tried to think of positive, helpful things to say which was difficult. Finally I settled on the fact that once they had lived together for a while he might well realise what a mistake he had made. Judith shook her head briskly, said that to be honest his behavior had destroyed much of her love for him. She didn’t really know if she wanted him back. She said as far as she was concerned the girl from Taiwan was welcome to him, stinking arm pits, haemorrhoids and all. She added that he appeared to be consuming vast quantities of Viagra and similar drugs. `Possibly not a good idea at his age,’ I agreed remembering some mention in earlier times of him having minor heart problems. Judith looked into the middle distance, her face suddenly quite composed, `No – it isn’t is it?’ she agreed. I drained my cup and looked at her hard. The thing about Judith is that it’s never been easy to know what she’s really thinking.