Disclaimer – any relation to persons living or dead is almost coincidental
See, I’ve got this thing about guilt. Truth is, and I think it’s an affliction peculiar to me, I feel guilty about feeling guilty.
Incidentally, I also have OCD – or did I already tell you that? Never mind. Back to the guilty thing; how can I explain it?
When I fell on the cake at my son’s wedding it was a genuine mistake: once the double whiskies have passed six it simply isn’t possible to avoid all prominent carpet edges, and tables as frail as that are really not made for the leviathans of the patisserie department. I mean, the whole situation was an accident waiting to happen, and I should not be blamed for becoming the unlucky victim of such a train of events, should I? I should have merely thanked the stars for my good fortune, because my onward career would have resulted in serious injury had my daughter in law not been there to cushion my fall.
Now, I can see it in your eyes. You’re attributing it to the double whiskies, aren’t you? But no, you see? It was guilt! If I hadn’t complicated my speech at the dinner by calling my son Brian (that’s his brother’s name; I’ve got three sons so it’s easy to get muddled) I wouldn’t have been feeling guilty. I wouldn’t have been thinking about that speech when I should have been looking where I was going.
I told you about the OCD, didn’t I? Because if I didn’t, I should have. Anyway…
So there I am at the hospital, feeling guilty about the guilt that made me trip over, instead of putting the responsibility squarely on that table. It should have been able to support me as well as the cake. Then I wouldn’t have fallen on Suzie (my daughter in law). And again, I wasn’t the one who broke her arm, I just happened to be on top. She fell awkwardly, that’s the long and the short of it. And I’m OK. There we are waiting in Casualty and I’m living with the guilt even though my son is nagging me about weighing 350 pounds. It’s an irrelevance. Or it is until they bring out the wedding dress.
There’s something very sad about a wedding dress with no-one inside it, especially when it has blood on the sleeve. I held up until Monica (Suzie’s mother) started stuffing all that white frothiness into a Tesco’s carrier bag. Then I broke down. I was irreconcilable and well, maybe – just maybe – I was coming down from the whiskies, I don’t know. All the guilt, you see? Anyway, I may have thrashed about a bit and I may (but not necessarily, I don’t entirely admit to it) have caught my son in the eye – which could have been the reason he started hitting me.
By the bye, I also suffer with OCD. I think you should know that – or do you already?
Anyone with a modicum of reason can see how this was merely an unlucky train of events where I was concerned. If he had only hit me once, instead of going manic like he did, nothing further would have occurred. But because he wouldn’t stop until half the family and two policemen dragged him off me we had to be arrested, didn’t we? And I don’t know why I have to feel guilty about that but somehow I do. It probably comes down in the end to what happened in the van.
It’s a long way from the hospital to the police station, sitting on those hard seats. I might have been a little bit dazed, I might have been a little bit sorry the happy couple were going to miss their flight to The Maldives, thinking back on it I can’t be sure. But I did feel the need to make conversation, to try and mend a few rickety bridges. After all, its family we’re talking about. It might have slipped out. Something I said might have sounded like I was comparing Suzie to Megan, my lad’s last girlfriend, and I might have mentioned something about a last fling. I don’t recall. But I know if I hadn’t been feeling guilty about feeling guilty about that cake, I wouldn’t have been so careless as to say anything about borrowing condoms. I really wouldn’t.
Guilt, you see? Guilt about guilt, growing and consuming itself even when things are not your fault.
Oh, and OCD. It’s vital you know about that. OCD. I have that, too. Yes.
So this is why I’m having to move. I’ve been threatened. My son wants me to go to Australia, but I said no, Brighton was far enough. And I’m helping out with the furniture – the removal guy and I are just about to take the piano downstairs. I had to leave him for a minute to get this written down, so I won’t forget. I have OCD. Did I tell you that?∞