Saturday, 3 May 2014

Step-Families: Who Needs Them?

My dearly-departed father, George, referred to by various members of his family, and by myself, simply as O.B.....Old Bastard.

This is him, bottom left, with his second wife who was to me everything the wicked stepmother should have been. Behind them are Mary and Frank, my wife's late parents who walked on water. Two lovelier people have not walked this earth, and if any camera lies, it is this one. Mary and Frank loathed them. The picture, by the way, was taken by me at our engagement party, 21 March 1972. It's from my book.

I write extensively about O.B. in my memoirs. To his second family, he was a hero. He treated him with respect, they loved him. They were welcome to him.

My mother and myself were not afforded the same respect. He beat me constantly as a child, the mental abuse was infinitely worse. When she was younger, my mother dated the singer Frankie Vaughan, and after Frankie she was engaged to a wonderful man called Bill Simpson. How she ended up with this creep baffles me. I once asked her why there were no wedding pictures and she said, "Would you want to be photographed with a bloody thing like that inside a church?" He couldn't keep it inside his pants and cheated on my mother all of the time, raped her on numerous occasions, and at the time of her death in June 1971 she had set the ball rolling for a divorce. Her funeral was the biggest the town had seen in 50 years. His new family may have loved him, his own family despised him. Writing about this monster was the only way that I could finally be rid of him.

O.B. was declared bankrupt and borrowed a small fortune from relatives to pay off his debts, which they never got back. I was in Paris when he died. Earlier, I had made a wager with Marlene Dietrich that whichever of our hated relatives died first (she had one, who is still alive), the other would pay for the champagne and we would get pissed together. O.B. was mean until the very end--he died on the anniversary of Frank's death. Marlene was herself gone by then, but we took the bottle to Avenue Montaigne just the same.

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