Colin's Cornucopia

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The Crunch

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Chapter 5

The Crunch

Colin had a busy life when he was 20 years old. His brother had a young family that lived sometimes in Portsmouth and sometimes at home and as Peter was often away and did not have a driving licence, Colin often drove them around. Peter’s daughter spent much of her early years in a Children’s hospital and there were regular forty mile round trips to visit.

He was at college for six months each year and worked with father the other six months. He had a social life with his friends from college and another one with his girlfriend and her friends. They went dancing regularly and he still managed to see Paul occasionally.

His father was preparing the Old Man’s bungalow before moving in and Colin was helping with this. He also had a car and his motor cycle which both required regular maintenance. He never dreamed of allowing anyone else near his vehicles. He could not have afforded to pay them anyway. He had been brought up in the exigencies of a wartime economy and had learned to live with it. It was to be another thirty years before he could stop going round switching lights off.

He cycled occasionally but his motor cycle and the lure of the open road occupied much more time. Things were good. The Country and the family had got through the worst of its poverty. Colin was getting a good education, had a reasonable job and enjoyed everything he was doing. There was only one flaw that kept nagging away at him. He had never yet got his end away.

His girlfriend was too straight laced to go beyond petting even though they were engaged to be married. He went out with a few other girls but found them either too sluttish to contemplate getting into bed with or too nice to contemplate getting into bed with him. He often felt quite frustrated.

Eventually he began to have doubts about getting married. Like most couples their affair had its ups and downs. But he began to realise there was nothing magic in their relationship. The spark he had occasionally found with other girls was missing. Her constant refusal to bed him hurt. He suffered a severe dichotomy between his relatively high personal standards and his fundamental male urge to shag.

For the first time in his life he had taken the initiative with his girlfriend. They had fallen out and he had no intention of calling her again. It was Easter and he stayed at home with his family. He knew her strength of mind and believed she was unlikely to call him. He thought he could carry this separation through. Beyond that he had not planned but was quite calm about the situation.

The family business always closed for Easter Monday and Tuesday. It was 6.30 on Tuesday evening and they had settled down to watch the television that was quite a new arrival in their home. There was a knock on the door and Colin answered it to find his girlfriend’s brother-in-law on the doorstep. Colin got on well with him and greeted him cordially.

“Can you come now. The old man is dead “.
Colin froze. In a daze he collected his coat and got into the car.

Almost exactly a year earlier his girlfriend’s mother had been taken ill quite suddenly. She had had dizzy spells and been taken into hospital. She was released after a few days. Six days later she fell over in the bathroom and was admitted to hospital again. The following day she died. The inquest established she had died of an aneurysm in her neck. In those days brain scans and ultrasonic scans did not exist. The family was devastated and Colin with them.

This day his girlfriend had had to work. She had come home to find her father with his head in the gas oven. He was quite dead. He had left a letter saying he could not live without his daughter to be his housekeeper so would get out of the way so that she could marry her boyfriend.

When the formalities had been completed and the undertaker, police and relatives had left, Colin and his girlfriend sat in silence looking into a cold fireplace. The shock had wiped any thought of their differences totally out of her mind. She expected him to be there. He sat not sure what to do. He would rather not have been there. He had another agenda; he had other things to do. He had no way of knowing where his relationship with her would have gone in other circumstances. But he had not the faintest idea how to deal with this. He felt well and truly fucked.

How do you tell a girl who has just found her father in the gas oven that you do not want to see her anymore? How do you tell her that her father had wasted his life for you were not going to marry her anyway? How can you tell a girl who has lost both her parents and just found her father dead in the oven that you think he is a selfish and vicious bastard? How the fuck can you make any decision about anything with a loaded gun like this pointed at your fucking head? He kept silent.

He had no one to ask for advice or to counsel him. He was far too well educated, erudite, adult and successful for anyone he knew to even imagine he did not know how to handle this situation. No one ever guessed that he had a problem. Not even his girlfriend. He had become an expert at avoiding issues and hiding his feelings. Vast amounts of his huge talent went into this effort and no one ever came near to guessing the agonies he suffered. No one had the slightest idea that he seriously wished he were not in this world.

He put his intellect to work to cover up, suppress, repress, rationalize and totally fuck up his emotions. All so that he would not have to hurt this girl for whom he was no longer aware what he felt. If things had been different he might well have been reconciled and come to love her. But things were not different and he was set on the longest and most tortuous path that any man has ever trodden.

Again, the unfortunate coincidence of two acts had fucked him. The separation from, and possibly reconciliation with his girlfriend he could have handled. The suicide of a very selfish father-in-law he could have handled. But the two together deprived him of the ability to make his own decisions. And that was to have serious consequences for ever more. But how can you expect a relatively naive and inexperienced twenty year old to know? It was simply impossible for Colin ever to settle within himself the emotional problems he had been working on at the time of this event. His emotional development with regard to his relationships to women was for ever frozen. Nothing he did at any time in the future could possibly alter this simple matter. he would simply never be able to know.

The man who should have been one of those protecting him on the springboard of his life had totally fucked him by committing suicide and leaving a letter that effectively blamed him. Later Colin was to feel that he had committed a murder and had been tried, found guilty, and sentenced to life, all in the space of one evening. Game set and fucking match. Checkmate in one easy move.

The man had brought his disaster on himself. He had in all his years never learned how to make a bed or sweep a floor or cook a meal or wash his clothes. Without a woman to look after him he could not survive. Colin had learned all these things by the time he was five years old and had no respect for a man who had spent fifty years studiously avoiding doing anything. He deserved what he got. He was not heartbroken at the loss of his wife and daughter. He was just too idle to get off his arse and do the washing up. It was easier to kill himself.

But how do you say that to his daughter when she has just found him in the gas oven? You don’t. At least you do not when you are twenty years old and not too sure of your emotions. You shut up and say nothing and do nothing for fear of hurting beyond belief a person who had done nothing to deserve such shit.

His girlfriend never mentioned the events of that day and has never spoken a single word about them to anyone in the thirty-five years since that day. Colin has spent most of that time on a knife-edge. Waiting for he knows not what. Never knowing what his girlfriend thinks and never daring to find out what might be in this Pandora’s box. Struggling to reconcile his own damaged emotions and his frozen development with the apparently normal life he has managed to front for thirty-five years.

If he left her now would he be doing it as an adverse reaction to the suicide or would he be doing it because it was his free wish? If he stayed with her, would it be because of guilt and pity, or because it was his free wish? Whatever he did, he could never be free of the shadow of this evil act. Thirty-five years on he still could not answer the questions.

From this point on everything in his life was to be adversely influenced by this event and for several years he didn’t even know it.

Many years later his son was to observe that Colin did not swear in words but in sentences. In retrospect that is quite understandable. It was around this time that his college friends found his incessant petty swearing was becoming objectionable.

 

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