Letter to AF
Posted by elsie katz on Mon, 14 May 2018
These days we're alike. Two calm old tabbies. Hope you are, I've not seen you for over thirty years but I hope you are alive and well in Basingstoke or London.
I rejected you when I was 25, thought I was a forest cat with acres of adventure ahead.
I called you an 'ignorant Scottish git', it was meant as a joke but it hurt, I never knew where to stop with my catty humour. These days I know I was the ignorant one.
Ignorant, a word with two meanings. Middle class people use it to mean lacking in information, the working class use it to mean lacking in awareness of good ways to behave.
I think it can also mean lacking in self-awareness.
You knew you had a 'hard act to follow'. The son of the first man in his family for generations who chose not to work in the mill in Alloa. Skin of the teeth save. The school head came to your grandparents house the week before Jim was 14 and said mill work would waste his abilities. Sensible grandparents followed the school heidies advice and you became a doctors son in Northwick Park, living near the hospital where your mum worked as a nurse and your half brother worked as a radiographer.
You chose, settled, just became you. A man with a steady progress in a transport job. A passion for your motorbike 'a metal horse.' One time you rode up to Stirling uni for a weekend. Sat through an English studies lecture when I asked you.
Did I even ask what make of bike, or how many cc? Think I asked if it took you a single day or if you did an overnight stop.
You were a lot more grown-up than me. Four years older and you had worked since 16.
I hadn't a clue who I was or 'where I was from' or what I was doing.
I didn't 'know it' but I left you because of drink. You were from a drinking family. Not alcoholics, people who balanced work with drink. My family was close to non-drinking. It always creates a difference. But to frame my reaction in words would be to label myself as a 'straight' when I saw myself as a hippie.
Most of my friends have drank more than me. My daughters too. I'm happy to be a 'lightweight.'
Drugs too, you mucked about with them more than me. Thankfully all our crowd in Harrow and Wembley never touched heroin.
You married a woman who looked a lot like me. Brown hair, similiar specs. A steadier life. You invited me to your wedding but I was in the Royal Ed at the time.
You divorced when your son was two.
I never got round to the marriage bit. Split with both my daughters dads when I was expecting.
I hope today is good. It's sunny outside.
Best wishes from an old friend