This has been a week of interesting revelations and insights, for me at least. You see, it seems that I was very probably the only person in the whole of London who was completely in the dark over the relationship between Hope, Charlotte and Emily. I had no idea that their relationships were anything other than they appeared, but as is so often the case, what lies under the surface is often quite different from one’s expectations.
I met with Hope on Friday afternoon for dinner and drinks at a little place I know out towards Richmond. The weather was almost spring-like and after eating we were able to sit outside and take in the hustle and bustle of life on the river. Whilst I am not a particularly nautical person, I am often drawn to its banks, fascinated and awed by its cosmopolitan qualities. Most visitors tend to see just the bustling highway as it weaves its way through the city, transporting tourists from one point of call to another. But there is so much more to it. Just a few short miles from Westminster and its environs, the banks begin to clear of the historic and industrial and instead embrace the more tranquil.
Mind you, on the eve of the boat race, things could hardly be described as tranquil. This annual event attracts an awful lot of visitors, making the evening slightly less intimate than I had planned. It was, of course, my own fault really. I should have realised just how busy it was going to be anywhere on the Thames this weekend. Not that Hope seemed to mind. She said it was rather exciting, being amongst all the boating fraternity again. I had forgotten she was an old Oxford girl so had been a part of all this rowing nonsense.
Anyway, as we enjoyed our drinks she said something that at first I found rather odd. I was saying how different Charlotte and Emily were, presuming that Emily was more like her father. To which Hope replied that she thought Emily was actually more like her mother whilst Charlotte was like herself. At first, I thought I had misheard, but when I asked her to repeat the statement, I realised I hadn’t. My puzzlement must have shown on my face because she looked at me and said: “You don’t know, do you?”
“Know what?” I replied.
Well, it seems that Hope is not Emily’s mother. I suppose that I should have worked it out before from her age but I had honestly not given it any real thought. I just assumed that they were mother and daughter and have never questioned how young Hope would have had to have been or the age gap between the two girls. It had never been mentioned before as Hope had believed I already knew as Emily’s parentage had never been a secret. I was a little shocked at first, but looking back it does sort of explain a few things, not least of which is how Charlotte and Emily can be so wildly different from each other. Charlotte really is so much like her mother in both looks and temperament, but Emily, not surprisingly, is not.
According to Hope, Emily’s mother was something of a troubled soul. Her relationship with Emily’s father had been a short but tempestuous one, rather like the lady’s character. It would seem that after Emily’s birth, she went off the rails, started drinking heavily and, if what the family say is true, was negligent and abusive towards her young daughter. Anyway, it all came to a head when Richard announced he was marrying Hope and very soon after the wedding, Emily’s mother was killed in a car crash. She was very drunk apparently she drove her car into a tree one some road or other out in the country. Luckily Emily was not in the car at the time but was staying with her grandparents.
Emily had come to live with Hope and Richard soon after they were married. It can’t have been easy for Hope, taking on someone else’s daughter like that, but she has obviously done an amazing job. The most surprising thing about all of this was not the story itself, but that I had not heard any of it before. I have known Hope for many years and met her more than once over this period so I can not believe I had not heard any of this.
I had hoped that we could spend some time together over the weekend but Hope is planning another exhibition early next month so had quite a lot to do. I am delighted to know that her little gallery os doing so well, but it does seem to take up far too much of her time. I suppose that if one wants to make a success of any business one needs to be prepared to make sacrifices. I suppose that is why she never felt able to do anything like it when Richard was still alive. Supporting him in his career would not have left her with the time she needed to devote to making the gallery work.
So I have had a rather quiet weekend really. Dorothy was out with Angela most of the time making essential purchases for their new flat. I cannot believe that she will be moving out next weekend. The old place is going to seem very quiet and dull without her.
Nigel dropped by earlier today to help me with my ancestry research. I have to admit to being a little lax on that front recently – Nigel has been away a lot, working to establish his new business and I have had a few other things on my mind. It was very nice to get back to tracking down the various branches of the old family tree. Nigel reminded me of our visit to Brighton last year to speak to an old family friend, Mrs Dalton. I have to admit that I had completely forgotten about old Mrs Dalton and her rather cryptic suggestion that I needed to speak to Aunt Murdock about something in my mother’s past. Now that I have been reminded if it I will make an effort to chat with the Old Mad Duck later this week to see if she knows what the old dear was alluding to.
Before we went our separate ways – Nigel to his parents and me to the Club – Nigel asked if I would like to invest a little money in his new business. He said that although he had most of the capital he needed, he was looking for some additional funds to secure better offices and, as he put it “oil a few wheels”. Of course, I agreed straight away. He is my godson after all and I am happy to help him in any way that I can. Whilst I don’t understand exactly what it is he is doing, I know that it involves some international dealings and I can only begin to guess at just how much “oiling” some of these foreign chappies require.