I was asleep. I often sleep after lunch these days. The sound of the motorbike on the gravel in the drive woke me. Conrad was expected at 4, this was only 1.30. I opened the door as he was taking his helmet off, and instantly I knew who it was. The resemblance to his son was astonishingly strong. I held out a hand. He dithered. For a moment I wondered if he’d come to fight. How many times was I to be beaten to a pulp by Fred’s menfolk? But tentatively, he took it, looking me in the eye with a quizzical face.
“We were expecting you a bit later, but you’re very welcome – Fred’s not back until 4ish”
“I was up and doing, and just wanted to hit the road”.
“Have you eaten? I’ve got some lunch. And how about a drink?”
“I don’t want to be a nuisance”
“It’s no trouble – our kitchen’s always open. Come through – mind the wildlife”.
“Fred told me about the animals, he always wanted pets when he was little. Told me about your gins too”.
“Nelson’s his favourite – the Norfolk terrier. [And I took the hint.] And a little gin’s coming up, I’ll have one myself”.
We went through to the conservatory. It was a bright, sunny day. Conrad’s fair hair shimmered in it. Like Fred’s. As I turned my back to him to sort the drinks out from the fridge and the freezer, I briefly thought “am I fancying the father too?”
“This is a nice place – even bigger than I was expecting”.
“Size isn’t everything ….” he made a face “… but we’re very happy here”.