A Telling Reunion


She was the daughter of my English lecturer, who specialised in Victorian literature: a kindly man who had invited his tutorial group to spend the night with him and enjoy a day’s walking on the fells. Now it was the evening, and we were back in his house and about to enjoy a meal cooked by his lovely wife. They were a picture of the perfect family, and his daughter the jewel you would expect in such a setting.
I writhed within myself, and wondered what light and casual remark I could use to introduce myself to her when “Mr Glib,” or Andrew Cummings to use his real name, another of the students and one who later went on to enjoy a prominent career in broadcasting, slid in her direction and asked her in the tone of one used to dealing with life and its varied nuances, “So are you at university yourself?” and she smiled at him, revealing she was at the same university as us, but studying medicine. “That’s very clever” said Mr Glib and soon he was oozing himself inside her life and suggesting they might meet for coffee in the student union.
I am confident I was one of my professor’s favourite students because I actually had a passion for the subject he taught, but outside the world of tutorials and precisely worded essays I was socially awkward and with a wardrobe to match. Once more I had to pretend that nothing touched me and “real-life” was a subject of research rather than experience. “How do you put the fun into your day?” I heard Mr Glib ask the unspoilt beauty and soon they were sharing their passion for vintage films, which surprised me, as I had been exposed for extended periods to Andrew’s languid discussions about his interests and “vintage films” had never featured in them.
I ate my meal, and managed to bore everyone but the professor with my discussion on “Fors Clavigera” an interesting text written by the Victorian social thinker, John Ruskin. Finally Mr Glib said “This is not a tutorial Nigel” and smiled at me as if he was being kind, and then at the group with his “Where do we find them?” tolerance: I was never much good at dinner parties.

To make matters worse, Cummings went on to marry her, and enjoy a successful career, no doubt revered by his listeners and fellow broadcasters.

I met him and his wife years later at a reunion dinner where my job as an English teacher drew few gasps of admiration from the group, most of whom were gathered round Mr Cummings, apart from his wife who stood some distance away, staring at a watercolour.

On impulse I went up to her and said, “You know, when we were students, and we had that dinner at your father’s, I wanted to come over and speak to you but Andrew got there first, and the rest is history.”

“I wish you had” she said, and gently touched my arm and I wondered if she might still be my unopened gift from destiny. “How is your father?” I asked, but before she could answer Andrew came over with that smile of his which speaks a thousand languages. “How is life in the classroom?” he asked, cutting across our conversation, “Still banging on about John Ruskin?” and his manner was curiously replete and satisfied.

She looked at me, like a conspirator and said to her husband with something of an edge, “The last word isn’t everything Andrew.”
“What do you mean?” he said, but I think I understood her. I hope I did.

About Peter Wells aka Countingducks

Trying to remember what my future is
This entry was posted in character, creative writing, Fiction, Peter Wells, Romance and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to A Telling Reunion

  1. Hoog says:

    Another observant and poignant uncovering of human emotions. 🙏😊

    Like

  2. Scarlet says:

    I hope she did turn out to be his unopened gift from destiny.
    Do you ever think about writing sequels?
    Sx

    Like

  3. beth says:

    I am left hoping she did too. So poignant and beautiful

    Like

  4. mistermuse says:

    This is the kind of story writing that makes me wish I could think of something better to say about it than this.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. tidalscribe says:

    Oh that’s brilliant and poignant, I can just picture the characters and hear Cummings’ making his cutting remarks.

    Like

  6. nelle says:

    I love the varied ways you explore human interactions.

    Like

  7. I’ve come across a few ‘Mr. Glibs’ in my time. This tale hits home a truth – that we all want to be (and often are) taken in by the superficial as it seems more satisfying than substance.
    As good as ever, Peter.

    Like

  8. Al says:

    Sorry, Peter, I’ve run out of words of praise and admiration for your writings. I’ll just say thank you.

    Like

  9. Jack Eason says:

    Reblogged this on Have We Had Help? and commented:
    Why do we never say what we mean when it matters the most?

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.