My Unfinished Father – A Life Lived to the Full
A Life Lived to the Full
03/07/1938 – 18/10/2018
Part 16 – Pages 171 – 180
NB; This is the second to last chapter, with the final ‘part’ to the manuscript being posted tomorow. I have heavily edited this chapter, and taken out much that wasn’t needed nor was it of any major reading.
THE END OF MARRIAGE
I believed that I was in love with Kathy and no longer in love with Margaret. This was something that had bothered me over the last twelve or eighteen months. Margaret and I still went out together but our married life had ceased to exist.
We spent an interesting day at Chislehurst Caves which had provided shelter during the Blitz.
In the meanwhile , my sisters and brother had all donated to a headstone for Mum and Dad which we all helped design and in due course it was erected in the small cemetery in the quite lonely Catholic Church a few miles outside Newcastle. In July I went to visit. At least it was in the Mourne Mountains which they both loved so much.
I was a little disturbed to find my parents buried amongst some IRA terrorists, but then I suppose everyone has a right to a burial.
During the summer I went to both London Test Matches. At the Oval the West Indies won by eight wickets. The Sri Lankans were given a test at Lords and this time England won by seven wickets. Looking at the ticket in my photo album, I see that it cost £11. Tickets to Lords today cost over £100.
Margaret was a deeply suspicious person these days. You might say with justification and you would be right. But she had been deeply suspicious for some time. She had the habit of searching my work briefcase and examining my diary. In fact from my youth I had kept a personal diary until I found her reading that, a couple of years earlier when I stopped writing altogether.
For some months Margaret conducted a campaign of using a fictions character named Penny. She told me that Penny had phoned but had not left a message nor did I have her number to call her back. In vain I protested that I did not know any Penny but she had the bit between her teeth and ran with it. She was plainly and simply lying.
I think she got the idea from my business diary. Fellow employees were generally encouraged to use their full initials when referring to a colleague. Therefore I was PBM, or Patrick Brian Matier and PAM was my good mate Patrick Adam Mooney. From out of this comes Penny. One day when I was watching the cricket locally she turned up at the ground to tell me that Penny had called. That was total lies.
Eventually I admitted my affair and made arrangements to leave. I think I realised that this is what I faced for the rest of my life.
I rented a one roomed granny flat in Send. It was comfortable enough I suppose but not what I really wanted. Kathy came to have a look and shared the same feelings, suggesting very strongly that a move out as soon as possible. I did and moved in with her in Leatherhead.
Towards ther end of the year we went on a trip together and it was a fine and enjoyable one. At the time I was not officially split from Margaret. I went to Boston and on the last day of the ASIS meeting Kathy flew out to join me.
We then drove up north to Niagara Falls which is truly splendid. We viewed the Falls from the US and Canadian sides.
We gut soaking wet on the Maid of the Mists and naturally took loads of photographs.
We then drove up north to catch the fall, as the Americans call the autumn and, at that time of year, it was magnificent. So far it was the best trip I have ever done.
She came with me on a trip to Washington DC, in the early part of 1989.. I showed her all over the city and its surrounding suburbs and we had a superb time. We included a visit to Arlington National Cemetery where we viewed Kennedy’s grave.
Later in spring Kathy booked a holiday in Spain through a friend of hers, who ran a property development company there. We had a very good time and hired a car to visit Gibraltar where we made friends with some Barbary apes. I believed that I was in love with Kathy and, as it turned out, rather foolishly believed she was with me.
Later still we went to Monte Carlo for an ASIS meeting where we stayed at Loews Hotel and Casino. I even spent $10 at the gaming machines. The star of the show was Jack Jones, the American singer. Kathy enjoyed herself and proved to be very popular with everyone.
Mobil held a security meeting in Cascais in Portugal and Kathy came to that one too. She did not come out with me but arrived later. I tried phoning her while I was in Portugal but could receive no reply. This worried me until she arrived.
We swam and played tennis and enjoyed ourselves. We also got to eat in several good restaurants. We had a free day before returning home and we spent it in Lisbon wandering all over the city. And so we were home again and planning our next trip. This time it was to the Rhine where we visited the so familiar sights.
I realised that I was madly deeply in love with Kathy. I had met her mother and father and other members of her family with whom I got along very well. She liked her feet rubbed and there were many times when we sat on the settee in her parents’ home with me rubbing her feet. I also thought that she was very beautiful.
I had to go to Nashville so I decide to go via Bermuda for a few days before travelling on. Kathy would accompany me before flying back to London on her own, while I went to Nashville. We had a marvellous few days in Bermuda, hiring a motor cycle to explore the island. We liked Hamilton, the capital and liked the speed limit of 28mph.
In particular we enjoyed our hotel as it possessed something we had never seen in the world before. This was a sea cave deep in the hotel where it was possible to swim once or twice a day when the sea rolled in. It was breathtakingly cold but a most unusual experience. We also developed the habit of doing a little ocean cruising and drinking Planter’s Punch, a lovely rum based drink.
Eventually it was time for me to go to Nashville and for Kathy to return to London. What can I say about Nashville? It was the centre of the American Country Music industry and it sold that pretty strongly. It was an interesting city but, as US cities go, not an outstanding one.
Soon I was home again and facing some new travel. This time Mobil Oil arranged an international programme for all security experts in the UK and the US to visit subsidiaries throughout the world to offer their expertise. I was given Zimbabwe and Zambia. I had never been to either country, never been to Africa before. I liked Zimbabwe very much.
I cannot say that I enjoyed the same affection for Zambia. Zambia was a ‘black’ country and a dangerous one. In Zimbabwe I felt safe to walk the streets of Harare. Zim is a beautiful country, with attractive native people, the Shona, around Harare and the Matabele from around Bulawayo. The scenery is glorious and the flora is amazing in its variety.
We were staying in the Harare Sheraton a pretty good world class hotel While staying there we had dinner one evening. The waiter presented the wine menu which I studied the contents. I spotted a bottle of Zimbabwean white and ordered that.
The waiter leaned over in a confidential way and said “I wouldn’t if I were you sir. Try the South African, it’s much better.”
I stuck with my original choice which was excellent. The reason I mention this is that South Africa was still then in its apartheid state and the neighbouring states had taken to calling themselves the ‘Frontline states.’
And the Shona waiter was recommending the wine from South Africa as better. Later at the Bermingham Road fuel terminal I came across a rail Tank Wagon bearing the legend ‘South African Railways.’ I said to the supervisor, a man called, Darlington “What do you get in this?”
He looked at me in open amazement “We get fuel.”
“And you get it from South Africa?”
“Yes, from Durban refinery.”
“I thought the two countries were almost at war.”
Darlington laughed. “No, that’s politics. You must not get it confused with economics.”
It was one of the most important lessons l have been taught in my life
I visited several wild life parks where I noticed that they had retained the various laws protecting wild life from the colonial time prior to 1980. This was simply done by deleting the words ‘Royal’. Wildlife abounded. We saw loads of monkeys, crocodiles in and out of water and Zebra. The crocs impressed me a great deal. Even the little ones which could be hand held, with great care, seemed to have a million teeth which I carefully avoided. Bird life abounded with many species I had never seen before.
Then there were the Ostriches, very much larger than I imagined and very fast across the open veldt.
The River Zambezi creates the falls when it tumbles into the lower river. I was told that the river at that point was low in water. Nevertheless it provided a spectacular spectacle hundreds of feet below.
We also spent a day in Lusaka viewing Mobil Oil Zambia.
Writing about Zimbabwe nearly some thirty years after my first visit I have tried to tell it as I saw things then. I have tried to spell it out as I perceived it then. It was a country with hope for a bright future. The actuality of Zimbabwe’s situation was to plunge a great deal before it reached bottom.
Meanwhile things had changed between Kathy and me. She didn’t bother to get out of bed when I got home from Zimbabwe. I do not know what had happened but by Christmas I had received my marching orders. They were simple ‘Please leave. We can still be friends.’ The first part was true; the second part was clearly untrue.
I rented a one bedroomed flat in Epsom which was perfectly comfortable and where i would live until I bought my own place. Meanwhile I had been divorced. Margaret had demanded a clean break settlement and had got one. The Nett result was that she received £110,000 while I was to receive £10,000. It hardly seemed fair but at least I was not required to pay any maintenance. Once my legal costs had been paid I would have about £5000 left over.
I was of course bereft at losing Kathy and knew, wrongly, that I would never love again. What could I do from late 1989 to the end of 1990? Travel was the answer. I travelled as often as I could and spent a lot of time in the US. ASIS was around to support this and being elected to the International Board helped in this regard.
Part 17 – Pages 181 – 186