My brother’s words when I hear them these days seem not to go into my ears – but down some other deeper artery.

He said, ‘It’s mother’s house and I just think of it as home.’

‘I would never ever go there today,’ I said. And we were in the middle of a paved two-way drive in the park, having left it up to the pack of people we were in among to decide whether it was prudent for us to cross.

The house that we grew up in – the great benefit of that house is that the finish and the presentation of its furnishings are like a shield that we might hold over our privates and the credit for this goes to our deceased mother.

The draperies are brocade – turned inside out – Mother said, in order to obtain a richer, faded effect – and everywhere in the world, and here, too, flowers have been enlisted to exude confidence.

In the foyer there’s the carpet with carnations and an apple blossom wall covering. This house is a fitting setting for those who are able to enjoy unrelenting family life. A class of us fail. I did.

‘I am never going there and I am never walking Jumbo again!’ I told my brother, ‘Ever! He broke my wrist. I am never going to walk that dog again ever!’ My father’s dog.

Another father – this one was young – was swiftly conducting his hatted little girl in a stroller, but I overheard him say, ‘What, baby? Why do you think you stopped taking your naps?’

‘Dad should get rid of it!’ my brother said. ‘He dislocated my shoulder! ‘

At one time Jumbo’s options had been to become lethargic, average, solid, plodding, very appealing, a winner all around, or unloved.

I have become bitter I fear.

Silence followed and then my brother gave me a run down on his physio treatments, as opposed to the usual advice I hear from him – how to heal an unhappy marriage, how to break a bad habit. But for all that, I still asked why did he have to go back home.

Dad is so mean. There shouldn’t be a reason.

Could there be a speck of my original self anywhere? – that I have left behind. God, and if I have forgotten about it, can it save me?

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