So, that autumn we got another of those uniquely-Bink telephone calls. When life becomes interesting in the most boring way imaginable.
Interesting, in the way it is when you get run over by a truck.
Though in truth, this was something we’d all been praying for, all year: I for much longer; Bink’s prayer group, since it formed. That something would happen to destroy the mutually destructive grasp Bink and Gatsby had over each other.
We’d been praying for it. But I couldn’t envisage it.
He was besotted with her.
And she was getting free round-the-clock care from him. Free accommodation. Free food. Free besottedness. Without which she didn’t believe she could survive.
Of course, as soon as it did happen, it seemed utterly inevitable. Their relationship was so volatile, so toxic, doing both of them so much damage, it was bound to implode.
But then, we can perhaps think of other relationships like that, which drag on for decades, to the amazement and horror of those looking on… like watching a car crash happen. Couples (Æmelia and Iago, perhaps) held together as much by hatred as by love. It could have gone on for a very long time...
Already, far too long.
At last, Gatsby had broken.
He rang us.
Couldn’t live with her any more. Had banned her from the house. Could we go over the Cambridge and pick her up?
Of course, I said.
But, I said, we have been telling you this for a very, very long time. You keep having her back. You never listen.
I’m listening now, he said.
It didn’t seem at all likely. The saviour of the world. The only one who loved and understood her.
(My biggest problem with him had always been his arrogance.)
But on the other hand, he’d never said it before.
So, yet again, we dropped everything we were doing and drove over to Cambridge to give up the evening and night to Bink.
She wasn’t allowed back in his house. Even though, in an act of stupidity so stunning it bordered on the insane, he had, apparently, put the documentation in her name.
Outrageous that he blamed her. Claimed he’d been terrorised. Too scared to go home. Goodness’ knows what. Told his family he was the victim of “domestic abuse”. I’ve said already, she was half his size (as well as his age) and though she had sometimes destroyed his property, she had never done anything worse.
Which, it transpired, could not be said on both sides.
When she told me, over the coming months, all that she had been subjected to, I was speechless with shock.
Goofy, geeky, almost-absurdly-liberal, Guardian-reading, Mrs-Thatcher-Enemy-No-One, ineffectual Gatsby? What indeed had their relationship done to him, that his character had disintegrated so?
There was much she could, perhaps should, have done. What she had suffered was wrong in the extreme.
But to be honest, we didn’t care. All that mattered was that she was out of it.
Their several-year relationship finally ended with an act of spitefulness and vindictiveness I never would have suspected.
Bink has severe OCD. When she is bad, touching or in any way interfering with her belongings terrifies her so much... well… she suffers the living hell Leah described so vividly for us the other day.
It is inconceivable that Gatsby didn’t know this. He had lived with her at her most ill.
She had left the strictest, most heartfelt (and frightened) instructions for nothing of hers to be touched until she could move it properly.
And yet he bundled her belongings into black bin bags and took them round to the friend she was staying with for that night.
He sent them straight back to Gatsby... but this act caused her such terror and distress that to this day, four years later, she hasn’t been able to recover anything of hers. Including her violin, her bicycle, a beautiful picture Ben painted for her when he was still at school and all Rose’s childhood pictures.
There was a kind of bitter, pointless justice to it. I believe Gatsby still hasn’t been able to use the entire top floor of his house, so full of her belongings still there.
Which he is not allowed to touch.
But I still find the cruelty hard to believe.
From one who loved her, once, so much.