Early summer 2012.
The shrink with the big write-up had at last agreed to see Bink. She just needed the necessary documentation from our MP.
Bink, please can you give authorisation, as always, so I can arrange this for you?
I can’t do anything.
You’ve done it often before, Bink. You just tell the MP’s PA that I have permission, as usual.
I’m not up to it.
It’s easy, Bink!
You know you wanted to see a psychiatrist? I’ve got one lined up for you, supposed to be the best in the country for OCD. But she needs your authority to see the paperwork. It will take you less than five minutes.
(As against the dozens of hours I’ve spent on this so far...)
You just pick up the telephone, ring the parliamentary office, speak to Richard’s PA and give him permission to forward on the documentation.
So, eventually, she did.
After a fashion.
She picked up the telephone, spoke to Richard’s PA, said she didn’t want to see the psychiatrist and she didn’t give permission for me to do anything on her behalf.
If Shaun had slapped me in the face in front of the entire congregation of family and friends on the day we both said, I will, I couldn’t been been more scalded. Shocked. And hurt.
The MP had become a friend of ours. He and I had tried to do so much for her, together.
I don’t often feel humiliated.
I felt humiliated.
He must think… what? That Bink’s difficulty was nothing but an interfering, pushy mother, trying to run her life against her will.
Everything is always The Mother’s Fault.
I didn’t have space in my head to work out that he had met Bink. Frequently. Seen the state of her. And me comforting her, on the sofa in his surgery. (And was far too busy to care and his PA wouldn’t bother him with such trivia anyway.)
Nor could I have begun to imagine how much more damage a new psychiatrist could do to her. Certainly not realise how relieved I should have been that Bink didn’t want the consultation.
I’d forgotten all about the incident until the other day. I keep telling Serena, I can’t remember what it was like. You block pain out, afterwards.
I can, she says.
There was that time when she refused to see the psychiatrist you found for her.
She must have remembered my tears for some time, afterwards.
Bink is not an unkind person. She really, truly isn’t.
When she is well... one of the kindest you could ever meet. If you can ever meet her well enough to meet you.
Her dæmons are something else altogether.
When she went into the Unit, aged sixteen... Something took hold of her which had possession of our most vulnerable secrets. The surest ways to hurt us. Pitching Shaun and me against each other.
Not Bink. But something in her did.
We hadn’t seen that Bink for over a decade.
It was Rose who told me, shortly after this, that Bink wasn’t coming home for the summer holidays.
I was distraught.
Surely she was well at last, wasn’t she? I had so looked forward to having her home, well again. All the life and work we – I – had poured in, caring for her for the last ten years. Were we never to be rewarded by seeing the well-Bink?
For some time she had been awash with benefits: she preferred to pay rent to a colleague of Shaun’s, a mile away, rather than come home for the summer holidays.
She didn’t want any more Latin or Greek help from my father, either. From several hours a day, last summer, getting her within a whisker of a First… to nothing.
(She did eventually apologise for leaving her nine-year-old sister to break the news. You’re right, she said: I shouldn’t have done it like that.)
The penny dropped around midsummer.
Not entirely: I didn’t see the full picture for a long time.
But I had a sudden and terrible glimpse of it.
As always – Bink often complains about my unscientific “instincts” – no facts to back it up.
I just knew.
Bink had met Gatsby the first time she was at Cambridge. Five years earlier or so.
She twenty-one. He in or near his forties. He would come to visit, became a friend of the family. Cambridge-clever. Often in our house. Offering to help.
Shaun would sigh, Oh no, not Gatsby again. And I would say, Oh come on, Shaun. He does useful stuff around the place. He’s intelligent over breakfast. He brings decent whisky.
His company was always more enjoyable than one had remembered its being.
Shaun didn’t like the way he walked into our home as if he owned it. The very first time, he did.
It’s a lot worse when it’s your daughter he behaves to own.
That evening, high summer it was, we were expecting Bink home. Gatsby bringing her. He did that sort of thing a lot.
I hadn’t seen her all term. I was longing for her arrival.
I made supper for all of us. We waited. Some hours.
Eventually ate without them.
By midnight I was alone in the house.
By the time Ben answered my call and said they were all in the pub with Bink and Gatsby – and I not invited – I became hysterical with grief.
Sobbing so much, Ben couldn’t work out what I was saying.
My distress was unmistakeable, though. He rounded everyone up and brought them home.
A long time later – years, it must have been – and Bink and I were looking back and I said that was when I knew, she said, That’s strange, because Gatsby told me I must go home and see you. He often said that sort of thing.
Oh Bink! How can you be so naïve? You studied Iago.
“But let her live...” He drops the thought in mind.
So Othello kills her.
That night was when I first knew.
I didn’t fully know that I knew. For months, I dismissed it as my paranoia: upset to be excluded from the party. It’s because you were in bed, Ben said.
Of course. Stupid of me.
No one else in the family seemed suspicious.
It was Serena who was next uneasy and Ben himself who first became angry. Fool that I am, I stopped him informing the police.
I didn’t yet know how it was happening. I didn’t know where this new, cruel Bink had come from. I didn’t know how it was being done.
I just knew Gatsby was stealing her…