Where can I begin. We drove out of London through the traffic, motor ways and finally we reached the village that he calls his home town. This environment was so alien to me that It felt like I was travelling through space or perhaps on some sort of Disney ride. Firstly there were the one lane roads that were only suitable for a horse and cart and then there were a few newer houses that I suppose were the “new estates” as the villagers call them.
“Agatha Christie Land” I thought looking at the old Manor House that had been in the family for years. As I looked over the front of the house I imaged Miss Marple would peep out from behind a hedge to come and look at Master Daniel’s new girlfriend.
Finally Daniel tooted his car horn outside two gates which opened almost immediately and we drove down a path to the imposing house. “Is this your home?” I asked half expecting him to say his parents lived in the cottages or lodge attached to the large house. I was even expecting him to say that this house had been developed into apartments and his parents owned the penthouse, anything but the truth.
“Yes, this is where I grew up. What do you think?”
“I don’t know what to say” I replied “It is quite amazing. It reminds me of Agatha Christie land” I admitted. “You grew up here, your mum came here from a flat in Vienna? It is marvellous. So much land. No wonder your parents have concerts here and things. I do love it.”
He drew the car outside the house and we got out of the car. The front of the door opened, not by a butler as I was expecting but from a petite dark looking woman in a flary 1950s style skirt and t-shirt with a scarf around her neck.
“Sara” she said “How lovely to meet you. I’ve heard so much about you. Please call me Eve”. She hugged me briefly and then actually ran to her son.
“Daniel” she cried “she is even prettier than you explained. English language was never your strong point. She is lovely. Let me look at you”. She scrutinized his face “yes, you do look happy. From plenty of sex I should think” she said with a laugh.
I stopped in my path and looked at Daniel who was sheepishly looking at me. “Did she say what I thought she just said?” I hissed. He nodded. “I told you. They are both nuts”.
We walked into the house. The inside of the house had obviously not been touched decoration wise since the 1930s, even earlier although unlike the furniture of today, this furniture was obviously built to last. I looked around and stroked a beautifully carved oak fire place.
“Do you like?” His mother asked. “Daniel said you liked things with more character. Not like him. He likes everything modern. I suppose it is because he grew up here in 1930s land”.
“I do prefer old things but I am beginning to see the benefit of new things. With new” I continued, “everything seems less complicated, you know what you are getting. But this house wasn’t built in the 1930s was it? It looks much older”.
“Well” his mother answered “there was always a manor house on these grounds but it was very bad condition. My father in law had the whole thing demolished and rebuilt it in the same style but the inside was very modern in it’s day. Unfortunately it hasn’t been touched since. Not because of anything in particular, but” she grimaced “my husband doesn’t like too much change so we’ve left it the way it is. Luckily it seems okay, well to me anyway”.
The door opened and the man who without any doubt in the world was Daniel’s father walked in. He stood six foot 3 in his stocking feet which were bare incidently and looked like a much older and “spaced out” version of his son. In fact, unlike his wife who was smartly dressed, if not in the wrong era, he seemed to be wearing what looked like a tartan pair of Rupert the Bear trousers and bizarrely for a man of his age a t-shirt with Bob Marley upon it.
“Hello son” he said hugging Daniel “and you must be Sara. Very nice to meet you”.
“Dad” Daniel asked “can I ask why you are dressed like a Rasta Rupert the Bear?”
I held in a laugh
“Well” he said “we had a few people over last night, some of which are still here I should think and the theme of the evening was” he paused “now what was the theme of the evening Eve?”
Eve shot him a look.
“Never mind that” she answered curtly. “Daniel take Sara upstairs. The lift is not working again. I told your father to call someone but he didn’t of course hence it’s not working so you’ll have to manage. I’ve put you in the same room. If you are not ready for that yet, put her in Sammy’s old room. Oh yes and by the way, Sammy and Giles are coming for lunch. Try not to rub Giles up the wrong way this time please. It is always much more pleasant when you all get on isn’t it”.
“He’s such a dick though” I heard Danny mutter.
“Sorry babes” Daniel said when we walked out of the room “you are going to have to carry the case upstairs” and with that he seemed to bounce out of his chair and jump up the stairs on his behind. “And” he continued “bring my chair please???”
“Daniel” I said tentatively “surely you would think that they would make sure that lift is always working. It is hardly easy for you to do this.”
He shrugged. “No problem. Good exercise. Of course in the event of fire feel free to pull me down the stairs by my legs. I won’t mind. As long as we get out.”
We walked into his old bedroom which in the theme of the house hadn’t been changed for years. “Daniel” I asked “I would have thought that they would have got you a special bed like you’ve got at home and may be that thing above your bed to help you sit up. This all looks the same as when you were a kid, along with cowboy wallpaper. Didn’t you ever want them to redecorate. Weren’t you embarrassed when you were a teenager to take your friends into this room”.
“I don’t know” he shrugged. “As for the wall paper, they wouldn’t have really thought about decorating, you can see what they are like. They see wall paper as something to cover plaster walls, like clothing. Something to keep you warm and as for equipment, my parents thought that it would be better for me to get back to normal. It was very hard but as you can see I survived”.
I looked at him confused and didn’t want to confess that my mother was already planning on how she would make her lounge more open plan in the hope that if Daniel came for dinner he would be able to move around freely.
“Daniel” I asked as I placed the suitcase on the chair, “how on earth can you move around in this room. It is absolutely full of stuff, furniture. I like clutter as you well know but I feel like getting a box and emptying this room to so you can move”.
He manoevered quickly on his bed and held out his arm “don’t you worry” he said “none of this matters. It could have mattered in the worst possible scenario but I can move around, I always find a way. Go and look at the shower. You are not going to be impressed”.
I walked towards the door that he was pointing to. I opened it and saw a plastic shower stall with an old plastic garden chair in it. “This is your bathroom?” I asked.
He looked at me. “Don’t worry. They aren’t in denial or anything like that. They love me”.
“I can see that” I replied “they really do but”
“They are a bit “different” – both of them. I think they are both as bad as each other. Look don’t get me wrong. I can manage – thank goodness. Sit next to me.”
I sat. “I just want you to be comfortable” he said kissing my neck. “I want you to try and be comfortable with every aspect of my life”.
“I am” I answered “so far anyway”.
“No” he said. “I mean with me. I know it is daunting. For goodness sake it was daunting for long enough for me and it is my body but I just want some how for you to feel comfortable with me.”
“Baby” I said burrowing my face in his shoulders “we both have to get used to each other. It is all part of the course. Plenty to learn about each other, both about ourselves, our bodies everything. Do you want to know about my medical history then?”
“Well not unless you are going to tell me. I know what you are going to say. Why should we have to talk about my body all the time. It is not necessary etc etc but you have to be aware ... I can’t do the same as everyone else. I know you don’t care but ...”
“I do care and alright it upsets me that you can’t do everything you want to do and YES you have had a chance to accept it all and NO I only just know you but, let me learn gradually as it comes up please” I said looking at him. “I am not going to get embarrassed about asking you if you need help, I will just do it – OKAY?”.
He agreed. “I just want ..” “I know” I cut off. “Help me unpack the clothes a bit and then we can go downstairs. I want to see all your favourite places.