A look into David’s past
Enter the Dining Club...
Getting out of his car, David glanced at his wristwatch. He’d done the drive from his London flat to his parent’s house in Dorset in just under three and a half hours, his fastest time so far. Taking his overnight bag from the boot, he heard the sound of the front door opening.
‘You’re early,’ said his mother disapprovingly.
‘Better than late, surely?’ he retorted.
‘You must have been speeding. Come in, your father won’t be long. He’s just gone to the chemist. The doctor’s written me a new prescription.’
He was about to ask what it was for this time, but managed to hold his tongue. ‘How is Dad?’ he asked, kissing her perfunctorily on the cheek that she offered him.
‘Oh he’s fine, as usual. He keeps very fit for his age. He’s lucky,’ she added with a touch of bitterness.
David raised an eyebrow. ‘He’s not old, Mother! Neither of you are old. He’s only fifty-three, and you’re…’
‘I know how old I am,’ she said sharply. ‘Where’s Imogen?’ she continued. ‘I thought you’d bring her with you again. She seemed a nice girl.’
‘We split up. She wanted more commitment than I can give at the moment.’
‘What’s wrong with you, David? You never seem able to keep a girlfriend for more than a few months.’
‘She didn’t like me working such long hours, among other things, just like all the others. We were both too young to settle down anyway.’
His mother sighed. ‘You sacrifice so much for your work. I don’t even understand it. What exactly do you merge and acquire?’
‘You understand my job perfectly,’ he retorted. ‘You just wish it didn’t take up so much time. But I enjoy it, Mother. Surely that means something to you?’
‘Life isn’t one long game, David. Once you settle down and have a family you’ll realise that.’
Biting his lip, David took his bag up to his old room and threw it on the bed, remembering why it was that he rarely came home any more. He had no intention of marrying and having a family, he enjoyed his life far too much for that, and he’d also discovered that however beautiful and sexy his girlfriends were, he quickly tired of them. The chase often turned out to be the best part for him, although as yet he wasn’t sure why.
When he went downstairs his father came in. They greeted each other with a firm handshake. Hugs weren’t their style. Over lunch David watched his father fussing around his mother, constantly asking her if she felt all right, or wanted anything done in the afternoon.
‘I thought we might have a round of golf later,’ said David, when he couldn’t bear it all any longer.
His mother shook her head. ‘Your father doesn’t play much anymore, David. He knows I can’t be here alone.’
He frowned. ‘Why, what’s wrong with you?’
She stared at him, flustered. ‘I –’
His father cleared his throat. ‘Your mother doesn’t like being left alone here. The house is isolated and –’
‘Why can’t she go out? What’s happened to all her friends? Has everyone you both knew moved away?’
He saw that his mother was dabbing at her eyes with a handkerchief, but was so angry that he couldn’t stop himself. ‘She’s not ill! Why do you give in to this emotional blackmail?’
With a little cry, his mother pushed back her chair and left the room.
‘Now you’ve upset her,’ said his father, looking worried. ‘You have to stop this, David. Every time you come here it’s the same story.’
‘Yes, it is,’ he retorted. ‘It’s the same but worse. Ever since you sold the business and retired she’s become some kind of neurotic, keeping you away from your hobbies and your friends. Can’t you see that? She doesn’t need pills, she needs a psychiatrist!’
‘That’s enough!’ said his father angrily. ‘She was a wonderful mother to you when you were small. Then, the moment you’d finished at Cambridge and moved to London you forgot all about her. It’s not easy for her. She misses you.’
‘No she doesn’t. She misses the malleable child I used to be. She never felt the same about me after I went away to boarding school and became more independent. For God’s sake, can’t we have one round of golf together?’
His father shook his head. David could feel his heart pounding in his chest, which was tight with frustration. ‘Right, then I’m going back to London. I refuse to sit here watching you pander to her for another twenty-four hours. If that’s love, you can keep it!’
‘David, sometimes love involves compromises. I hope you’ll learn that in time.’
‘I don’t believe in love,’ retorted David. ‘Women fall in love with a man because of the way he is, then want to change him, just as Mother has you. How can that be a good thing?’
‘It seems to me you never stop to consider other people’s feelings,’ replied his father.
‘That’s not true,’ said David. ‘I simply object to emotional castration. Although I’m clearly a disappointment to both of you, you can rest assured I’ll make sure I never disappoint anyone else with my lack of emotional intelligence. No one is ever going to get close enough.’
Within an hour he was making the return journey to London, vowing never to forget the lesson he’d learnt that day.
Click here to buy Part 1 of The Dining Club.