The further adventures of Stan -3
It was during the following week that I had an email from my daughter, Sarah. It said:
“Mother, I know that you expressed your wishes that I not proceed to investigate further the matter of the young man to whom you are providing room and board. Angela agreed with me that we should look into the matter, and what we found is a great shock to us both.
Your Stan Barlow not only has been in trouble before, but for taking money and goods from an old
woman. He apparently doesn't have a police record, but it was written up in the local papers that a few years ago, he was arrested and went to court, pleaded guilty, and was given community service.
Now I'll bet you didn't know that. I presume you will be giving him his marching orders. If you would like me to come to back you up, I can make the trip on Sunday. Please understand that both Angela and I have only your security and peace of mind as our reason for doing this, and as you can see, we were very justified in our worries.”
I wrote back immediately and sent a cc to Angela, who has always been the quieter and less opinionated of the two. I was pretty sure she wouldn't have instigated this witch hunt on poor Stan, although I hope now she will say something on her own.
“Sarah and Angela,
Of course, I knew Stan's background and the problems he had when I offered him a place to live. You don't know the full story, so you are being very harsh to judge him. And I repeat, this is none of your business, and I would much appreciate it if you would not mention the subject again.
Stan was aware to an extent that there was a certain amount of tension in the air. He asked if my daughters had made some comment regarding his stay, and I had to admit that they had been somewhat vocal in their misunderstanding of the situation.
“They did some searching and found out about Minnie and your court case,” I added, “but I told them that I was fully aware of the situation and that I trust you completely.”
“I don't want to make trouble. Maybe I should find another place,” he said.
“I don't want you to leave,” I said, and as I was saying it, perhaps for the first time the realisation hit me that Stan was much more than a person for whom I provided room and board. He was my friend, and very much a part of my life. A very important part of my life.
I continued with my visits to see my girls – alternating each month. My December visit with Angela coincided with the Christmas holidays. I thought it best if Stan went home to stay with his mother and step-dad, as I would be away for a week on this occasion. Perhaps before the confrontation
with the girls I might have not bothered, but I didn't want to give them ammunition for another onslaught.
This time it was me who brought up the subject with Angela when we were alone, Geoffrey having taken Natalia to the park.
“My friend Stan went to his parents for the holidays, in case you are wondering,” I said.
“Oh, that's good,” she said, looking decidedly uncomfortable. “Mum, I don't really agree with Sarah that you are being foolhardy, but I do worry about you. You are so trusting. You probably wouldn't even realise if someone were taking advantage of you.”
“I don't know about that,” I said, with my hackles rising once again.
“I can see that Stan has some postive things to add to your life,” she added. “I think you seem much happier over the last few months – more relaxed. But he isn't your child. You musn't become used to having him around. He will soon find somewhere to live which is more in keeping with the needs and wishes of a young man. He'll want other young people around him. He'll want a girlfriend to come and sleep with him. Would you allow that?”
“Certainly not,” I said with some heat. “He knows the rules. He has never brought any of his friends around. He goes out and may well have a girlfriend for all I know. Our relationship is not one where we tell each other everything about our daily lives.”
“I can tell that you do like him. You defend him with such vigor,” she said.
“Tell me what sorts of things you get up to when he's there. Do you watch television together?”
“He has the use of Jeremy's set in his room, but occasionally if we are both interested in something, he might watch it with me on my set, which as you know is bigger and has a sharper picture. But I don't make him watch my soap operas or Strictly, if that is what you are implying.”
“I'm not implying anything. I'm trying to be supportive. I just wondered why a young man would prefer to live with you when he could be with others his age. But I suppose the life he gets with you is very comfortable. Can I ask how much you charge him for his room and board?”
“It is none of your business. And I do resent you asking questions like that. I have no idea what the going rate is, but Stan and I have an arrangement whereby he does jobs for me, as well as his payments. He mows the lawn, trims the hedges, does little handyman jobs that saves me having to have somebody else out. If I added it all together, I probably would find that it is me who is benefitting most financially from the arrangement.”
Just then the others came back from their outing, so we changed the subject. I had no intention of including my son-in-law in this sort of discussion, as we seldom saw things eye to eye.