For some unknown reason, he turned his attention to me. In hindsight, I wonder if it coincided with me arriving at a cricket match with my brother in a (borrowed) Porsche. I was wooed in classic fashion, flowers, poems, grand ro- mantic gestures etc. You name it, he did it. I can't begin to explain how flattering it was. He asked me to marry him after three months; he tele- phoned my dad to ask for his permission. Some friends thought I was mad, but I told them that he was the love of my life. It was only later I learnt that he had asked my dad for money towards the engagement ring because I wanted an expensive one (this wasn't true and he certainly didn't spend the amount he had 'borrowed'). The wedding was booked for the following September, again hindsight would suggest an undue haste. Only the best was good enough for Stephen; my parents had suggested a local hotel, but he pushed for a five star hotel in a stately home. The guest list grew and grew, two hundred guests to a four course meal after the wedding, with another three hundred in the evening. A string quartet, a live band, a photographer from Lon- don because anybody local was too 'provincial' for him. I was complicit in all of this, swept along in the 'excitement.' Of course, my dad was picking up the bill for all of this. And 'all of this' was (grotesquely) expensive. The meal alone was just over £100 per head. The champagne had to be vin-
438 tage, the flowers needed to be 'better than anyone else's.' I started to feel uneasy about four months before the 'big day.' There was nothing specific, but I started to have doubts about him. We had been to collect his new car from the garage, and I saw the way he spoke to the salesman and I felt shame. This was particularly relevant to me because my dad was 'a used car salesman' as Stephen put it! The fact that my dad owned several garages that were successful and the fact that my dad was paying for everything didn't seem to occur to him. My uneasiness and unhappiness grew, I lost weight (a lot of it), I didn't sleep; I was drinking more than I should. I finally made my decision three days (yes, three days) be- fore the wedding. I told my dad first. You need to know my dad was from working class stock, self-made man, down to earth etc he looked me up and down, touched my hair, hugged me, and said, "Better now than af- terwards." If only my mum had been so understanding. She said I had 'brought shame on the family!' I told Stephen, he looked at me coldly and said I had 'hu- miliated' him. Which I had probably, but never once did he tell me he loved me, he didn't cry (like I was doing). The next couple of days passed in a blur, my dad's secretary (Janet — I'll love her forever) took over cancelling everything. My mum didn't speak to me. At all. My dad gave me some cash, and my brother drove me to a rented cottage in Devon, and I spent a week wandering along the coast, crying.
- Summer '17
- blue cheese