Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Bernard Hendy and His Very First Love

Since my brother Bernard died in April this year I have received a number of messages from those who knew him long ago, some of them school friends and some who grew up in York Road, Northfleet and the surrounding streets. Until now they have all been male friends, each saddened to hear of his death and wanting to tell me what a surprise it was, or relate details of an incident that springs to mind when they think of him. A day or two ago quite out of the blue I was greatly surprised to hear from his first girlfriend. They had each been sixteen at the time of their relationship, an intense romantic liaison that greatly concerned my poor mother and undoubtedly her parents also. She was a very pretty young girl and Bernard was so very proud of her and extremely keen to show her off, especially to me as I was seven years his senior and he saw me as sophisticated beyond belief. Living in my London basement flat and working in Murrays Cabaret Club in Soho at that time I undoubtedly saw myself in the same light! I can remember meeting with them both to sip gin and tonics at the Coach & Horses on The Hill at Northfleet where none of the Sunday bar staff seemed unduly concerned as to their obvious youth. At that time Bernard was quite convinced that their future was inextricably joined and that he and she would adore each other for ever. Sadly that did not quite happen though he never forgot her and often in the years that followed, spoke of her with a great deal of affection, exhibiting a fondness that clearly irritated both the women he finally went on to marry. Bernard was four years old when our father died and had little memory of him though he floundered emotionally throughout his life because of the loss. In the years that followed he grew to be very like him in many ways having inherited the same charm and charisma, the same generosity, the same disregard for truth and the same inherent weakness of will where attractive women were concerned. It was these last personality traits that got him into a number of tight spots at times and caused so much unhappiness to those who loved him. And throughout his nearly sixty eight years of life he was possibly loved rather more than he deserved, and admired and even respected, as his father had been before him. At sixteen, at the time of his first love affair, however, he was in many ways still diffident and lacking in confidence with a social awkwardness that would take a decade or two to entirely disappear. And since I heard from his first love, I have pondered on these things once again of course. What a pleasant surprise to hear from the young girl who knew him at the very beginning of his eventful journey through Life.

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