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Hatfield Court


Nr Leominster



Phone: 01568 760333

July 1999

Dear Robin

I’ve been meaning to write to you for a while because I’m now fairly convinced I have been doing you an injustice.

It concerns something that Joanna said to me, when she strongly advised me not to join you and Roc on Gometra in the autumn of eighteen months ago.

I understood this to be your request and I changed my plans and did not join you, but what I didn’t do was to check back to the primary source – you – to see whether this was actually what you had said to her.

I did feel that you and Joanna had both lost the plot whereas I now feel that, acting in a way that I am sure she felt was in the best interests of all of us, that it was Joanna who had lost the plot and that she had misunderstood something you said.

It is easy for a new or newish wife to think they have all the clues to a situation they have inherited while being unaware of the complexities, and you and I have always had a sparring relationship which may be a male mystery not immediately apparent to the female psyche.

Joanna, to use the fashionable jargon for this year, was erroneously crossing two boundaries as I see it – she was confusing your and her boundaries in what the author of the co-relationship book would see as a classic blunder, but was also confusing the boundaries of Callow with those of Gometra, assuming that the territorial rights that you and she have over Callow somehow extended to a Scottish island. She also assumed the right to interfere in the father / son relationship, a dangerous thing to do even in one’s own family and very explosive to attempt in someone else’s family. And also incidentally transgressed the New Age truism that one should not speak ill of someone without asking them to be there to speak for themselves.

For much more than forty years I’ve received very generous hospitality at Callow and I think in retrospect that the shock caused by the unexpectedness of the request did inhibit my faculty of reason and inhibit my doing what I immediately should have which was to telephone you and ask ‘Is this true?’

I was interested to see what would happen in the lead-up to Savanna’s christening but as far as I can make out no pressure was exerted to prevent me from being present there; and it was the warmth of the inscription on your present which first made me think that I might have been misinterpreting the situation.

In the old days what Joanna did would have been called stirring and it’s an easy thing for a newish wife to find herself involved in, rushing in if you like where angels fear to tread.

For all its ups and downs your friendship is important to me and I am sorry that I have been doing you the injustice of believing that both you and Joanna had acted out of order whereas I now think that it was only Joanna who (acting from the highest motives) had lost the plot.

The thing has put Roc in a difficult situation because inevitably in the last resort his loyalties would lie with his Dad.

I have decided in my mind that that is what happened but it would be helpful for me if you could set my mind at rest and obviate any minutest suspicions I might still have that that is what occurred.

Can you write me a line about this or, if you prefer, we could meet for a drink?

Our friendship has lasted so long, and contained so many colourful incidents, that it is a pity it should be skewed by someone else’s misunderstanding, however well meaning.

If, however, the other (which I now think the much less likely) interpretation is true, I would of course wish to respect it, at any rate as concerns Callow Hill, and it would be really helpful to have a specific instruction rather than the rather mystifying to me situation I find I’m in at the moment.

So, if that were true, would your wish be that I don’t visit:

Yourself and Joanna?


Other people living at Callow like Suzie and Juliet?


Gometra when you are there and Roc is there?

Gometra when you are there and Roc is not?

Presumably there would not be an objection to me visiting Gometra when you’re not there.

Your friend



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