Suzanne – August 1985
Paris always came to a virtual standstill in August so Suzanne had become accustomed to timing her holidays during this month. Although she had travelled to Spain during August in the past it was not the perfect time of year to be there either; it could get stiflingly hot. The English climate seemed much more suitable and the additional pull of family and friends sealed the deal.
Suzanne contacted Rebecca and her father to invite herself home for a week and then Penny to beg a few days stay in Yorkshire. The Foreign Office then came up trumps by asking her to spend a few days in the London office. All in all she would have three and a half weeks in the UK, a week in Yorkshire and the remaining time at the Pimlico house.
As was often the case with her visits home, her arrival was only days after the arrangements had been made. Penny advised her that she would find things quiet in the Pimlico house when she first arrived as Tyrone and Reuben had just arrived in Yorkshire for a few days accompanied by their daddy. Suzanne was astonished that Rebecca had allowed the boys to go anywhere with Dylan but could detect from Penny’s end that she was not in a position to discuss the visit freely. She’d find out soon enough she’d be home on Wednesday morning.
When Suzanne arrived at the Pimlico house at 11.30 she was surprised and delighted to see not only her father but Rebecca home as well. After Suzanne had greeted her father affectionately the friends embraced,
‘Unusual for you to be home, I wasn’t expecting to see you until tonight.’
‘A night out with Caiti’ explained Rebecca, ‘pity you missed out Annie. The usual thing though much too much champagne; it always gives me a headache and I never learn’ she lamented, ‘Jack has been administering strong coffee since I dragged myself out of bed’ she smiled gratefully at her benefactor. Suzanne was soon up to speed with the various children’s whereabouts and other news. As always Rebecca was strictly non-committal when she spoke of Dylan and Suzanne knew better than to press for information.
‘Anyway Annie, I’m going to love you and leave you now to catch up with your papa. I need to get into work. Now I have the three shops and school holidays are upon us I have to be at work as we’re pretty stretched for staff.’ Rebecca disappeared upstairs to get changed leaving Suzanne and her father chatting in the kitchen. They heard her clatter downstairs and call ‘Bye, see you later’ after which the door slammed shut in her wake.
Suzanne rummaged in the fridge as she updated her father about life in Paris and the summons into the Foreign Office that had enabled her to organise such a long break in the UK. She laid the table methodically with cheese, pate, celery, tomato salad, bread and chutney as she located them. It was the sort of lunch that they both enjoyed. Jack pitched in with his normal duties, laying the table with plates, cutlery, napkins and condiments after which he announced the bar open. ‘Glass of red with the cheese?’ he hazarded correctly.
Over lunch Jack filled in some of the details that Rebecca had omitted; chiefly the Dylan scenario. Jack had initially been very sceptical and concerned for Rebecca when Dylan had reappeared on the scene. He could see that she was tense and wary of him. However Rebecca had felt obliged to allow him some access to the boys and bit-by-bit Dylan had ingratiated himself with his sons. He had behaved responsibly always turning up on time to collect or drop the boys off. The boys were obviously fond of him too.
‘What do you think of him though?’ Suzanne wanted more than the facts.
‘Well I was predisposed to think badly of him’ Jack elucidated, ‘but I must say he seems genuinely contrite. He has shown real tenacity and determination to make good on his previous neglect of the boys. He spends time with them doing things and he’s taught them to swim with confidence and to use a snorkel and recently how to dive. He doesn’t shower them with gifts to buy their affection I think that they both love him, they certainly love having a daddy.’ Jack paused and then added with a wry smile, ‘He’s also been rather enterprising in breaking down Becca resistance. She is rather like a lioness protecting her young against him.’ This was a long speech in Dylan’s favour for her father to make. Suzanne wondered if Dylan really had changed.
‘That’s quite a glowing report from you, Dad’ Suzanne stated thoughtfully, ‘Do you think that Rebecca and Dylan will get back together again? Has he got this in mind?’
‘Not on the present trajectory’ Jack answered, ‘Rebecca avoids seeing him almost entirely. If he has it in mind he’s got his work cut out for him, I would say.’
The subject of Dylan exhausted father and daughter’s drifted into reminiscences of their days in Oxford as Jack updated Suzanne on the doings of some of their family friends and ex colleagues of his and Doreen’s that Suzanne remembered well. Her father seemed well Suzanne thought as she listened to his news. She was always alert to any signs of deterioration in his faculties. He had been 75 last birthday. Reassured from her observation she wondered aloud what had become of the cats.
‘I expect they’re fast asleep somewhere enjoying a break from the little terrors. All three of them pursue them endlessly; although they do seem to tolerate it most of the time.’ Jack proceeded to tell Suzanne some of the escapades of Ty, Roo and Charlie. It sounded from his stories that she was often at the Pimlico house.
‘Often here yes’ Jack responded, ‘or at Caitlin’s, she collects them all from school often to help Rebecca out. The three children are inseparable. You’d think the boys would be too rough but Charlie’s made of sterner stuff. She has them both wrapped round her little finger.’ He chuckled in recollection.
‘It sounds like she has you too!’ Suzanne laughed.
‘Well maybe, I’ve always had a soft spot for her mother too’ admitted Jack, ‘Charlotte’s just gone out to the States for a fortnight or more. A big adventure for a six year old but she seemed to be looking forward to it.’
‘How about one of your famed cups of coffee’ Suzanne hinted sitting back from the table to stretch her legs out.
‘Coming up’ Jack obliged.
Suzanne – August 1985