I always shivered whenever we came this far
south west. I glanced up and his ferocious blue eyes blazed at the point
where it happened. I left him alone with his own memories. He’d start
arguing as soon as we turned for home. It had just become another ritual. A
sacrament to his dead son. He needed someone other than himself to blame. I
handled this well enough, if it helped him to manage his guilt, then fine.
My own feelings of remorse would stay with me forever. It had become an
equation between us with an unstable balance.
I watched him, there were no tears this time.
He stared for a good five minutes and then, without saying a word he nodded
and I swung the boat around and we headed not only for home, but the jagged
rocks of another argument. This one shook me out of my isolated security.
‘Who was that girl I saw you with last week?’
I sat up, surprised by the direction of his
latest arrow. I had been on Smeaton’s Pier with Diane. We’d sat there in the
evening sunshine, staring across the harbour. A morbid enough occasion, we
both knew it was the last time we would be together. We stood and arms
linked together, we began the two hundred yard walk back to the hotel.
Complacency, my eternal enemy, had turned on me once again. My father rarely
came to St Ives, so when I sensed a few fishermen sat outside St Leonards
chapel, I saw no danger. My concentration on Diane’s red, tightly packed
pubic hair, neatly packaged around the treasure that I would soon have my
face in amongst.
Diane glanced up at me and whispered, ‘I want
you so much.’
Before I had chance to reply, I heard my
father’s voice, ‘It’s a lovely evening.’ He came out of the shadows and
stood in front of us. ‘Don’t be late in the morning.’ He said this and
stared at Diane at the same time.
‘This is my father.’ I said this in the panic
stricken tone of someone caught red-handed. This was irrational in itself, I
was out with a girl, so what?
Unlike Diane however, she never missed a
beat, ‘Mr Teague – I’ve heard so much about you, I’m Diane. How are you?’
She held out an outstretched hand and he grasped it quickly enough. Was he
staring at her short dress. Her tanned legs, the thin straps of the dress an
obvious indicator that Diane wasn’t wearing a bra.
Finally he said, ‘Have a nice evening.’ Took
his penetrating gaze across to me and repeated his earlier request. ‘Don’t
be late in the morning.’
He brought me back quickly enough when he
raised his voice a notch, ‘Who was she?’
I stood and we stared at one another. I
wondered if my confusion was written large across my face? I felt that I
blustered a touch. ‘Just a friend.’
‘Are you still seeing her?’
I felt my eyes stretch wide open. ‘What’s
this all about?’
My father opened a page of The Cornishman. I
never read newspapers, he opened the paper to the page you always get in
local newspapers. Wedding photos and a picture of Diane and her recently
acquired husband smiled out of the page at me. I reeled back, the photograph
and my father quickly closed the gap. I tried to stall the overwhelming
attack about to be launched.
‘That’s not the same girl.’ A feeble shield
of a lie came out in my defence.
He read from the paper, ‘On Saturday, Diane
Lloyd married her childhood sweetheart.’ He waved the picture at me once
again. ‘Diane, she told me her name was Diane. No doubt, it’s the same
‘We met, bumped into each other by chance.’
‘She was getting married and three days
before that, you were all over her.’
I tried to hold the line, repeating my rather
weak excuse, ‘we’re old friends, we just happened to bump into each other.
Chatted and then said our goodbyes.’
‘You went into the Pedn-Olva Hotel.’
‘You followed us?’
He waved the paper at me, ‘What sort of a
man… You disgust me.’
‘It’s not what you think.’ But it was exactly
what he was thinking. We’d been lovers for nearly a year. Her fiancée, one
hundred miles away at an agricultural college in Totnes.
I felt my head drop.
‘So you should hold your head in shame.’ He
rolled the newspaper up and jabbed me in the chest with it. ‘Do you know who
‘I’m sure you’re about to tell me.’
‘Biggest farmers in Cornwall and you’re out
‘I wasn’t whoring with anyone. Why are you so
dramatic all the time?’
I wanted to see the welcoming arms of the
entrance to Stennack Cove again. The towering cliffs either side, then the
shingle beach. The wooden benches, packed tight with tourists on days like
these. Licking ice creams and watching the workers coming in on the tide.
Anywhere but this place of inquisition.
‘I should tell him what his new wife’s been
up to behind his back.’
‘And what good would that do?’
‘Are you still seeing her?’
I shook my head, ‘we were saying our
‘And you had to do that in a hotel?’ I said
nothing, waiting for his own gale to blow itself out. ‘You stank of sex the
He may have been right, we said our goodbyes
with a lazy, early morning coupling. No soft focused images of us walking in
opposite directions on a soft Cornish beach, with a blazing red-sunset as a
backdrop. We made love and then I dressed quickly and left her in the bed to
try and catch up on some much needed sleep, while I motored on to my
appointment with a fishing boat.
‘You make things up – you’re in a daze.’
‘She had bites all over.’
This wasn’t true, discretion dictated that I
wasn’t allowed to bite. I said nothing, what was the point? I looked away,
he just mirrored this setting perfectly. A setting shaped by violence that
brokered no conciliation for those who choose to work in it. Appropriate
enough given my father’s lack of ability when it came to compromise. An
environment entirely suited to an evangelistic Methodist. My mother said
that he had been carved from the same granite that Stennack Cove nestled
It wasn’t meant as a compliment.