Sunday, September 16, 2007


My Dad and my sister visited to collect a car. Prior to their quickly returning north, Emma and I took them out to a spit and sawdust kind of pub for lunch – it seemed the right thing to do.

Just as Dad was finishing off his gammon:

Shane: Y’ know I was rootling about on the computer – looking for Thomas Wexford.
Dad: (coolly) Mm.
Shane: Can you remember exactly when you last saw him?
Dad: (unfazed) Oh, bloody hell, that would have been a while ago – he’ll be 47 now.
Shane: (thinking 'present living tense') Do you remember, though, when it was that you last saw him?
Dad: (trying hard) Er…
Shane: You see, I remember – (lying) though it might just be a fragment of my imagination - us bumping into him near the town hall in Castle Market – I’m fairly sure it was just you and me – but I must have been really young.
Dad: (puzzling) …
Shane: No?
Dad: I don’t know.
Shane: Was I born when you last saw him?
Dad: Yeah.
Shane: What about Roy (my brother)?
Dad: (thinking) Hmm-, I can’t remember.
Shane: (thinking ‘fucking alcohol dulling the senses’) Mm, ok.
Dad: He worked on the sites.
Shane: Building sites?
Dad: Mm – he went all over with that.
Shane: Right. Did you know where he was living?
Dad: Apart from Colliery Hill (their former family home), I didn’t.
Shane: (thinking ‘But how could you not’) Mm.
Dad: He was into that heavy rock stuff, y’ know – the music. There was a big gang of them that went round together.
Shane: (Glad to note the social element) Right. (pause) Any girlfriends?
Dad: Er-
Shane: Or boyfriends?
Dad: No.
Shane: Do you think Len (Dad’s older brother) knows anything about where he might have gone?
Dad: No.
Shane: Mm. Do you remember when you realised that Tom was gone?
Dad: Er-
Shane: Cos obviously there wasn’t like mobile phones and stuff, so was it like he just wasn’t in touch for a very long time, or did he say that he was going away, or –
Dad: (distantly) I can’t remember, t’ be honest with y’ – I think he just went.
Shane: Mm.

I let it go. Soon after, Dad went to the loo. I looked at my sister (Amy) - very much in the dark.

Shane: Y’ know, this search for Thomas Wexford – the fact that it’s clearly so long since he (Dad) had anything to do with him –
Amy: He could be dead!
Shane: Well that’s what I'm beginning to wonder – that’s why I’m not being all upbeat and excitable about looking for him – the fact that he’d just disappear for nearly 30 years without even a chance trace of him – I definitely think it’s possible that he might be dead.
Amy: Bloody hell.
Shane: (spotting Dad) He’s coming back.
Dad: (to Amy) You ready to go?
Amy: Aye.

Emma looked at me, gave me a quiet sad raised eyebrow and a shrug and confirmed that we needed to go too.

Half an hour later, with Dad and sister gone, we were en route to a friend’s house. Emma returned to the lunch-time conversation.

Emma: You were a bit full-on. (pause) I just froze, I thought ‘Be still, give nothing away’.
Shane: He seemed ok, though he clearly doesn’t know what happened to Thomas – I’m sure of that now – did you hear the ‘He’ll be 47 now’?
Emma: Mm. (pause) I suppose it could have been a building site accident or something like that.
Shane: Mm.

Though not inappropriate, it still seemed like an odd statement for her to be making with an upbeat tone of voice.

I will leave it until Thursday before making further enquiries about the yet to be delivered death certificate of Thomas Wexford.


having my cake said...

In this age where it seems to be impossible to be incommunicado, it is hard to imagine completely losing touch with a family member. The whole premise of finding him dead or alive must be quite a scary prospect for you, especially if you're not even sure your Dad would welcome the information.

OldHorsetailSnake said...

Maybe Dad doesn't need/want to know. Maybe it's enough that you do. Tough call. Good luck, buddy.

PI said...

I used to have conversations just like that with my Mum.

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