Did you feel it too? Did you regret it? That we were never close? Not really. Would you, as I do, have wished it otherwise?
This thought occurred to me as I wrote earlier about the early loss of your mother and your grieving, rather “proper” father. I suppose that left you with no one to model closeness. Perhaps it was just the ethos of the English upper middle classes of your generation, a hangover from Victorian days with their strict adherence to propriety.
I well remember that first time I brought Ellie over to visit, that Christmas—would this have been 1970? 1970? You made a point of saying, often, and telling your friends at the pub, how much it meant to you that I gave you a big hug—the first I could ever remember!—when we got off the train at Carmarthen station.
I did not learn this from you but from Ellie’s father, Michael, who first surprised me with the big hug I soon came to expect every time we got together. A matter of course.
We used to shake hands, you and I, grown man and boy, father and son! Hard to believe it now, so many years later, but we shook hands even to say goodbye when you took me to the station and saw me onto the train that would take me off to school. We shook hands, hello, when I got back…
Well, I promise I’d give you a big hug now, too, if that were possible. Maybe even a kiss on the cheek! How that would surprise you!
Your son, Peter