One more story about the early days of my relationship with my mother-in-law, Pam. In the run up to the wedding Polly was busy converting my flat into our home. She was treading the fine line between respecting my tastes and possessions and despairing of my tastes and possessions. We eventually compromised, in that I surrendered completely with one proviso, that we keep my books. I had hundreds and hundreds of books. One wall in the living room was lined floor to ceiling with shelves, double stacked and there were two more bookcases in the corner. In the bedroom, in an alcove were another two long shelves and there was a bookcase in the hallway. Yes, I know, all very geeky, but there you go. I'd love to be able to say that all of them were philosophical treatise and books by Russian authors exploring the nature of humanity and suffering. Truth be told, there were a fair number of John Grisham and Terry Pratchett.
Pam came to visit and assess her daughters prospective domiciliary arrangements. Her eyes brightened when she saw the books. “Oh lovely,” she said. “The church is having jumble sale. There's bound to be a bookstall.” I don't think she heard my whimper.
A. few minutes later she and Polly were surveying the bedroom so that Polly could seek her advice on the best place to position the double bed we intended to purchase. Pam looked thoughtful for a few moments and then said, perfectly seriously, ”the room's quite small. Have you thought about bunk beds?” Polly had to help me clean up the mouthful of coffee I had sprayed across the living room.
Today, as Pam came over to help look after her grandchildren while Polly was at work, and amidst the frequent offers to make coffee and whilst declining the full English breakfast she wanted to cook for me, I felt a wave of affection for this wonderful and generous woman who has so completely taken me into her life and filled it with love and biscuits.