Open Features: The Children's Holiday In Mortlake
What were the police doing in that cemetery in the middle of the night? A local newspaper report of a court case sends Brian Lockett's imagination into entertaining overdrive.
After a woman admitted drink driving in Chiswick, she claimed that there had been special reasons for driving and the case was adjourned to a later date. The 32-year-old woman appeared in Feltham court last week and admitted drink driving in Chiswick. Magistrates were told that evidence would have to be called to show that there had been an emergency and this would be based on the evidence of two police officers, the reason for the emergency and the shortness of the distance travelled. The case was adjourned and she was allowed unconditional bail.
The Brentford, Chiswick and Isleworth Times
To start with, the woman is not 32. She is much closer to forty. And her real name is Molly Brown. She doesn\'t live in Mortlake either. She lives in Manchester. With me. I know all this because I am her husband. We have three children.
When Molly agreed to marry me all those years ago I was overjoyed. She was not a particularly pretty girl. I have to be honest about this. In fact she was fleshy. There are other words I could use, but fleshy is the best. Face, neck, shoulders, limbs, torso - all fleshy. If you are a man, you will know what I am talking about and, according to a recent survey, 90% of you will know why I was attracted to her. She was certainly something to get hold of. Wherever.
That fleshiness gave us both (I like to think) great joy in our early years. Before the drink took over. That part of the newspaper report was right. Drink has been her weakness for many years now.
When she left me, taking the three children, I really didn't understand why. I had not been unfaithful. I did not knock her about. My own intake of alcohol was modest compared with hers. I did not keep her short of money. And she had her own job as an assistant librarian in Didsbury. Some kind of mid-life crisis, perhaps. I am pretty sure she'll be back and when she does I have resolved not to crow or sneer. She certainly will be back, because the children are due at school in September.
It's her sister Deborah who lives in Vineyard Heights, Mortlake, and that's where she went. I know because Deborah rang me,
"Don't follow her, Geoff. She needs a bit of time to sort herself out. The kids are fine."
"She knows school restarts in September ?"
"Of course, she does."
"If it's money ... "
"No, don't send any money, Geoff. I'll look after her. Just leave her alone for the time being."
"Are you sure I could easily ... "
"No, Geoff, no. Think of it as her summer holiday."
"She didn't leave a note, you know."
"I'm not surprised. What I mean is, you know, it was a bit of an impulse thing."
She rang me again a few days later.
"No, no," she said quickly when I asked if anything was wrong. \"Nothing's wrong. There's been a bit of trouble involving the police, that's all. A pure misunderstanding. Nothing at all to worry about, but it may mean that she will have to stay here a bit longer."
I had to ask Deborah the same question several times before she cut short the reassurances and told me.
"She was out in my car. She'd had a few and got stopped by the police. For some reason she panicked and didn't give her real name. Told them she was somebody whose name she'd seen on a gravestone."
"On a gravestone?"
"Well, she was in Chiswick cemetery at the time."
"Molly was drink driving in a cemetery?"
"She hadn't travelled very far. There aren't many long roads in West London cemeteries."
"She didn\'t knock anyone down?"
"At two o'clock in the morning? In a cemetery? You must be joking."
"What were the police doing in a cemetery at ... "
"Oh, God, I knew this would happen. Listen, Geoff, I'll make this brief. She didn't mean to drive into the cemetery. She took a wrong turning, distracted by the bright lights."
Deborah speeded up her delivery to avoid interruption.
"The police were already in the cemetery. They were exhuming a body. There were lots of cars - grave-diggers, pathologists, local council officials, people from the coroner's office. They were doing it at night to avoid the media. So there were spotlights and torches and so on. God, I don't know, it must have looked like a bloody football match. Anyway, she drove in and rammed a police van. Then some idiot thought that this was some kind of terrorist attack and in next to no time there were people with guns and body armour all over the place, fire engines, ambulances and Lord knows what else."
"What the hell was Molly doing out of bed at that time of night?"
"I\'d lent her the car to go to a party. Life is pretty dull here. I thought it would cheer her up. I'd told her to go easy on the booze, but, well, you know what she's like."
"Is she OK?"
"Well, the police are pretty pissed off with her. They don't know who she really is yet, so I suppose there'll be more trouble when they find out."
"Look, I'd better come down."
"No, Geoff. Molly wants you to keep you out of this. She knows she's been very stupid."
"Well, OK, if that's what she wants."
"I'm afraid it'll be in the papers. I'll send you a cutting. The kids are fine. They know something's going on but not the details. Don't worry we can handle this."
I've respected my wife's wishes, because she is a very independent woman and likes to handle her own affairs. I do hope that this won't delay her return, though. The kids are due to start school again in a couple of weeks. And the neighbours are beginning to suspect that something's wrong.