Spain 2

After my agreeable lunch it was down to business to find out a little bit more about the vanishing husband.

Apparently he was 62 years of age and prior to retirement about  15 months ago had been a senior civil servant.

He had worked in London and he and his wife had lived in a village in Essex not far from Stanstead Airport.   Both he and his wife had been married before, he was a widower and she was apparently divorced.

The place in Spain had been hers and had been part of her divorce settlement the place in France was his.  The Essex property had been bought jointly and was now let on a long term basis as they had chosen to live most of the time in Spain and have holidays in the house in France, although she did tell me that they let it to friends and friends of friends.

They had a couple of grown up children each who were either working, away or at uni.

My client who I will call Mrs Willis described her husband as “A steady Eddie, popular at work doing nothing terribly Earth shattering”.  I did think he must have been more than steady to have had a place in Essex and a house in France and to have risen to his position as a senior civil servant, although she did not say how senior, but from the way she dressed, talked, acted and her overall demeanour I got the distinct impression that either money was not an object or they lived beyond their means, but carried it off very well.

I asked the usual questions about him, but she didn’t tell me anything which would give any hint as to why he should just up and off without a bye or leave to anyone.

“Well, what do you think, has he gone off with another woman?” she asked after a pause in the conversation.

“I have no idea, but what would make you ask or think that?” I said rather startled by the sudden change of tact.

“Oh you know one is always reading about these older men who suddenly rediscover their youth and go off with a younger woman a mid life crisis sort of thing” she explained rather matter of factly.

“Mmm I suppose, but from what you have told me it seems out of character for your husband” I replied.

“Well yes and no” she paused “You see Tom and I had a lengthy affair before we were together officially” she said quietly.

“Oh I see” I said rather lamely

“Yes, he had a loveless marriage, and mine was no better.  My ex husband treated me like an object to be exhibited saddled and mounted as and when he felt like it”

I choked slightly on my after dinner chocolate mint at her words, but I think I got away with it. “How long did this affair last?”

“Ten years give or take a few months”

“Why didn’t you leave your respective spouses?” I asked

She threw her head back and laughed “Spouses” She laughed again “Spouses, now you sound like Rumpole of the Bailey rather than Inspector Morse” she ribbed me.

“I can do a good Jack Regan impersonation if you like” I retorted slightly taken aback at the latest change in tone and pace of the conversation.

She looked at me very seriously “Shall I see you back at the factory then guv?” she rasped in a very passable George Carter accent.

“Very good George,  very good” I responded “Gotta say though I’d never had you doqn as a sweeney fan”

She smiled “My ex husband was on Special Branch and he loved  it, actually so did I and I used to live in Chiswick a few doors away from John Thaw and Sheila Hancock.  He was a nice man”

“Why did you divorce him then?”

“No not him you oaf, John Thaw!” she exclaimed

“Anyway back to the point in hand, why didn’t you leave your spouses” I pressed her.

“Well Mr Rumpole it was for the children, we wanted to wait until they were older and could understand”  She sighed “What a mistake that was”


“Very simply they never understand, whether they are ten, twenty or thrity years old they are still children whose parents have split up.  It had never occurred to me before we got together.  In fact I will tell you this, it would have been easier all round if we had done it nine years earlier, less deceit, less stress, less pretending oh God all that time wasted and by the time we had the chance to be togther so much damage had been done to us in one way or another.” She paused “Would you think me and old lush if I got a brandy?”

“Not at all, you’re paying”

“Very true, we will have big ones, or mayne you have already, but as I am paying I will insist you join me” She signalled the waiter and ordered the drinks and more coffee and then shook her head.

“It was worse because Joan, thats Toms first wife died in an accident.  When he first told me, I am ashamed to say I cried and danced for joy.  I only met her twice and that was briefly so I din’t really know her, but Tom was very unhappy and his pain hurt me more than my own existence.  When Tom told me she was dead I thought “this is it, we can be together at last”, but life plays cruel tricks on people”

“Why, what happened” I asked

“well Toms kids had lost their mother, and of course as soon as someboy dies they become perfect.  Look at Pricess Di for Gods sake.  One week a pain in the arse and then public are really fed up with her and her carrying on and then the next thing she dead and becomes Mother Terresas twin sister and evryone is going round wailing and mourning.  It was mass hysteria.  Do you think I am terrible saying that?”

“No not all, I have to say I thought the same thing about the Diana business”

“Do you think it was an accident” she asked very intently


“Who do you think killed her, the Queen, Prince Phillip?”

“I would say they were the outside runners when it came to the lengthy list of suspects.” I replied

“Hmm but….”

“Look” I interupted “Why was there such a problem when the wife died” bring her back again to the matter I was being paid for.

“Ah yes well of course death also brings guilt and remorse, Tom started thinking he had contributed to her death, which he hadn’t of course, he just felt he had.  And then there were his children they had lost there mother as I said and they needed to be helped through that period, although the thing is that period never ended for them so that when we finally made the split and got together officially they took it very badly indeed.  Actually Tom has really only just got back on to what you might call natural terms and there sis till anomosity from the younger girl.”

“How do they get on with you?”

“Fine”  she said abrubtly ” I had a few months of prima donna stuff and then said enough is enough.  I told them it was not my fault their mother was dead and that I had no intention of trying to replace her in their lives and that we could either get on and be friendly or they could take a hike.”  she paused “Actually I really wanted to tell the two of them to piss off, but it wouldn’t have been right in the circumstances.”

“Fair enough” I said “How did the wife die?”

“Oh it was quite ghastly really, she was burnt to death in their caravan.”

“Doesn’t sound too pleasant” I agreed

“No, they had this caravan down in Dorset,  Joan went down there for the weekend prior to them all going for a short holiday.  It was low season and not many people around. There was a problem with the gas or a fire and the place went up in flames.  It would seem as if she had had a bit too much to drink that evening and so was over come by alcohol and fumes and as I said there were not many people around so by the time anyone realised anything was wrong and called the fire brigade it was too late.”

“A bad business in deed” I ageed.

“Well out of all good comes bad” She said “And I know I will sound terrible, but it sort of removed one of the obstacles to Tom and I being together, although there were the other issues which as I explained cropped up as a result and there was insurance money from the fire and life insurance on Joan which was quite considerable.  In fact Tom used that to buy the place in France.  His kids wont go there, say its not the same and that he shouldn’t of bought it.”

“How did you and Tom meet?” I asked trying to move on to more cheerful topics.

“Oh through my husband ironically enough”

“How come?”

“Well David, my husband had been working with Toms department – something to do with animal activists or some such group, I forget and they had a function near Holborn.  I got a bit tidled but  had a really good time and Tom was a real gentleman and charming.  David and Tom worked together on this project quite a bit and then something else.  They weren’t friends as such…..” she tailed off.

“And what made you and your husband split up finally, did he find out about you and Tom”

She laughed “No I found out about him and Vanessa the undresser.”


“Vanessa the undresser, the slut he had been keeping and having children with for God knows how long” she snarled all signs of good nature gone. ” She was a collegue of his that he had been shagging for years.  The fool, she was half his age”

“Probably still is” I interjected

She stared at me for an instant and then smiled “Yes I suppose she still is”

“Why the venom, you were having an affair for Tom and yet you seemed to be miffed that the old man was doing the same?”

“It was because I was having the affair with Tom that I was so miffed as you put it.  All that time I stayed with him qand I could have been with Tom.  It also transpires that David Hated me and wanted to be with her from the momenbt he met her.  I have no doubt he loves her more than life itself.  You know since we have divirced and he has been with her he is actually a really nice chap.  I couldn’t ask for a nice ex husband.  He is a wonnderful father to his second set of kids and has beome a better father to our children.  But do you know the bit that real sticks in my craw Mr Norman”

“No tell me”

“She is a really nice woman.  Nobody has the right to be that pretty and that nice and understanding.”

“Do you get on Ok with her”

“Of course I bloody do thats what’s so bloody annoying, it is mpossible to dislike her she is a genuinely nice good person.  The bitch”

“So then”  I said taking stock of everything that had been said “Where does that leave us with Tom?”

She shrugged her shoulders.

“I would like to visit your home and through some of your husbands papers and things, it might help.  Do you have a computer?”

“Yes, avtually i have Toms laptop with me at the hotel”

“I would like to look at it if you don’t mind”

“No not at all, but do you need to visit the house”

“Maybe not, but it often helps, as I said people often leave a little clue somewhere”

She looked at me and did not seem convinced and there was something in that look and her manner that for an instant made me think of Gollam in Lord of the rings.

I don’t mean she looked like Gollam, but the bit in the where he has lost the magic ring which he calls his precious.  I don’t know why he came to mind, but I got the feeling she felt she had lost her precious.

The thing is where was her precious?

5 Responses to “Spain 2”

  1. Sally Lomax says:

    So where indeed?!
    Thanks for that nice comment btw. I may send you an email if I may. Would you mind if I picked your brains about something? S

  2. Uncle says:

    D – I can tell you it gets better or not depending how you look at it!

    Sally – feel free to email me and I will see what I can do to help.

  3. havingmycake says:

    Ok, ok, message received and understood 😛

  4. Uncle says:

    J – Ah yes hmm well I err can see your point. Well take the ladies advice. Easy for me to say I know, but…

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