8th December 2007
By mid-morning, so many Fleet Street snappies and scribblers had crowded into our (large Victorian) Parson’s Green Vicarage that they couldn’t fit in and were beginning to fill our front garden.
How did we feel? When did she disappear? Would I comment for the lunchtime news?
Shaun’s secretary was in our kitchen. I went in, shut the door and howled onto her shoulder for several minutes.
Then pulled myself together.
“They will not see my like this,” I said, drying my face brutally. I loathe the voyeuristic fashion of filming sobbing parents over pitiful diminutive bloody stretchers in a war-torn zone.
I went upstairs to put fresh makeup on.
Not before Shaun had noticed the – burly, large, as aforementioned – member of the Met. Still standing guard in the same place, in the window, where he had stood all night.
Tears streaming down his face, like a small child’s.
Shaun’s secretary asked me what she could do to help.
Pick Alex and Ben up, please. They were at boarding school twenty miles away. If Bink was gone for ever, we would all face it together.
Someone was fighting his way through the milling crowds, into our hall, flashing ID.
Gordon. We knew him slightly. He had helped on teenagers’ Christian camps with Shaun’s previous boss, the vicar in the next parish, a close and dear friend. Since then, they had all played football together.
He beckoned us into Shaun’s study.
“I’m your liaison officer,” he explained. “What on earth’s going on?”
“The person I spoke to at the station said publicity might help,” I explained.
If he didn’t quite sink his face into his hands, it was certainly that kind of gesture.
“He meant,” he said slowly, “if we haven’t found her by about Thursday,” (this was Monday) “we might contact the local rag.”
All three of us stared at each other.
“Not all the national press by mid-morning!”
There are some genies you can’t put back in the bottle.
Our neighbours, over the wall at the bottom of our garden, were good friends. When we first moved in I had glanced into their fascinating garden, thinking their home charmed and magical. How wonderful to play there...
I didn’t know until much later that they thought the same of us.
By then their son was swimming, with our children, in our above ground pool every summer’s evening while we shared a drink with his father, watching them.
That day they called round, having passed the fashionable Fulham delicatessen between our two houses and brought two of their lovely quiches for our lunch. I had often looked through the window and longed to taste them: they were too expensive for us.
One was stilton and spinach. The other, walnut and something.
I noticed them with regret, knowing I couldn’t swallow a mouthful.
The – large, burly – policeman wolfed them down appreciatively. Presumably he needed something to keep him so large and burly.