JOINED TOGETHER IN HOLY DEADLOCK
There comes a letter, every Christmas, it's not to me, it's from a childhood friend of mrs ishmael. The good thing about it is that it's not one of those grotesque, braying, ink-jetted roundrobin affairs, filled with self-praise and how wonderfully the children and increasingly the grandchildren are doing, the horrid little bastards. I must say we don't get any of those any more, we no longer know such mechanised and conceited authors, we have done but we don't anymore. A mental hygiene recommendation would be to swifty clear one's life of such dross, to just mercilessly fuck them off out of it, out into the Land of Arseholery. That's what I do, anyway.
Susan's letter came early this year. I have read about thirty of her letters, without ever meeting her or even seeing her photograph. They all contained just nice, homely news - school results, weddings, illnesses, how Dave was doing in his job - and they all came from the same, Northern address, the same house that she and Dave had married into. Although she was mrs ishmael's childhood friend her annual letter was a comfort to me, stabilising and reassuring; never thought of her through the rest of the year but the little note chronicling her uncomplicated life was a seasonal treasure.
This letter came early, providently including her change-of-address postcard in advance of mrs ishmael sending her yearly update. And the change-of-address postcard came enfolded in an explanatory sheet of paper. She had moved South, to live adjacent to one of her children; after forty-three years of marriage, Dave had left her.
I guess it happens all the time, every time you turn around there's another hardluck story; people's ability to damage one another is, as we know, limitless. I can understand this desertion in ten-, twenty-, twenty-five year marriages but after forty-three years of blameless, conformist living, you have to think it must be something dramatic which wrought this change and although one's sympathy is spontaneously with Susan one wonders what it was, what was wrong about those forty-three years that he could just walk away from them. We'll never know what feuding dualities co-existed, what irritations went unvented, what individuality lay smothered under a myriad such Christmas billets doux; maybe it was by the writings to others of steady domestic progress towards the grave that Susan camouflaged the chasm beneath her plodding feet.
I hope that their remaining time proves to be - from whatever over-niced existence they shared - a liberation, despite their wrecking my Christmas, selfish bastards.