Part 1

Episode 7

Really? Why would Ruth’s mum discuss her daughter's previous boyfriends with her potential future son in law? There is no reason why she should but equally there is no reason why she shouldn’t have. It is something mothers have been known to do.

It may have come up in passing conversation. James may have asked Ruth’s mum about it? These are questions Ruth has asked herself in the middle of the night when she should have been sleeping. In reality the answers to these and many other questions are pretty irrelevant and not the point.

 It is now the stuff of legend that Ruth's mum has blamed herself for almost all of Ruth’s unhappiness’. Mog has blamed herself for many other people’s unhappiness’. She had wrung her hands and beat herself up for not being a better mother and person so many times. Poor mummy, she is a fool to herself. Why she does this is not beyond Ruth anymore; she has come to learn where this guilt stems from but at that critical moment in the showers it did not serve any good purpose.

Ruth's mum is actually a very sweet natured person, who hates confrontation. She is a feminist and an activist and was more than capable of bringing up a female child to have high expectations and confidence in her abilities. In fact she did that very thing. Ruth is confident and quite able. The problem was that Mog didn’t believe she could or did. She did it by and large on her own, with very little guidance or support from anyone else. Ruth’s father left when she was 7 or 8 and took no real responsibility for her after that. Incidentally we will come to James thoughts on Ruth’s father in a later chapter but for now.

Suffice to say, contrary to the belief of Jenny and Harriet Pound, James, several other Pound family members, bystanders and ignorant bastards, several psychology texts and self-help manuals. 

Ruth’s broken home and fragile parents did not shape her up to be a victim or wrong, bad in anyway. They do not bear any responsibility for the way James or his family viewed them or any responsibility for the way James and his family treated Ruth.

 Anyhow Ruth didn’t tell her mum the whole story that day in the shower. How could she tell her mum, that the man in the next shower block hated her guts; despised her very being, though the world would not miss her if she died? 

You might have been able to but Ruth couldn’t. How could she tell her mum, the man sleeping with her daughter thought her a failure and wished her gone? Ruth couldn’t. She was too cut up about the relationship imminently ending to add all that anyway.

 As for James thinking Ruth was dirty, probably had AIDS? For a start, contracting HIV does not make you dirty or stupid or anything really, apart from ill. Likewise, having multiple bedfellows, being a serial monogamist, is nothing to be ashamed of.

The crux Ruth so often comes to is this. James thought having HIV meant you were dirty.  It was made clear to Ruth that James thought women with previous boyfriends are whores and women with dyed hair and tattoos are sad and pathetic. 

As far as Ruth is aware, he has never changed his view and still thinks this today.

Ruth always finds a sarcastic irony that she had a tattoo for her 18th birthday and a pillar box red cour through her Barnet  proudly on display when they first met in Alice.

Why would he want to fuck a sad whore then ? Cos that’s what it looked like he had done if  he went by his reckoning!

He had wanted to fuck Ruth ay.


Its funny, Fred said something to Ruth, some 16 years later, in the weeks after she left James.  They were discussing James racist and homophobic mouthings, which were and are yet more branches of his anti social behaviour that  relates to that night equally well.  Fred said

“ I don’t think he actually meant any of that stuff, he was probably just trying to wind you up”.  Ruth chuckled at this. 

 Poor Fred, James is one of his oldest friends, it is hard to hear that your friend said shit like this. 

But she thinks it’s even harder for Ruth  to then have to  think James spouted all that horrible bigoted  arseholish shit  with no other intent that to hurt and upset  her.  Perhaps in a bid to put her down. Why do it when he knew it made her cry? Did he like seeing her cry, angry and red . Did he find it attractive?  

Fred will not benefit from being told his friend is a bigot and a bully but Ruth feels he must known deep down. It must be difficult, people have inbuilt coping mechanisms, Fred won’t ever quite let the knowledge sink in.  In a stranger Fred would find someone saying that shit, wholly and utterly unacceptable but when it comes to James, he makes excuses. 

 Ruth has talked to her mum a lot and it has helped her immeasurably. Poor mummy doesn’t want to hear anymore, can’t hear anymore. There are some things poor Fred doesn’t get told, knowing his friend and colleague is a psychopath, what good would it do?


So why didn’t Ruth just ask James to leave?  She does not readily recall what she did that night in the tent but she doesn’t think she said anything at all, she was far too wigged out by the situation to properly think, he had been so weird, his eyes had been so strange, his calmness, so eerie. 

Essentially however, Ruth was clear this made her unhappy and really quite cross, she thought he should leave. He had not, in her eyes been an abuser at that time though , abusive yes, but not an abuser.

He had simply shared his true feelings. It had hurt and upset her shocked her but these things happen; relationships end. She had not faced it before like that but it happens to a lot of people that they split up acrimoniously. 

Ruth had spoken of a basic truth when she was babbling through the snot and the water, in the shower that day. The truth that there was nothing she could do to stop him thinking like this. 

Even if she had tried, she could do nothing to prove what he said wasn’t true. There was nothing she could do to prove herself clean and worthy of his respect.

 Moreover why should she have to prove anything to him? It all came out through those tears. Her mum absolutely not getting it at all and frightened of Ruth’s upset and her rage, trying desperately to comfort her and put a brave face on the situation.

 It was obvious he should go and they would have to take him to the nearest airport or station. It was the right thing and Ruth thought he would go. Ruth will tell you, she loved him, had never been in love before and was broken that morning. She was mortified he could have had such views and have gone so weird seemingly over night; surely he was sick or ailing? It is only with hindsight that the other signs become highlighted.

 When they came out of the showers, breakfast was in order before a drive through Monaco and James was as fresh and buoyant as a spring day. No bags were packed, no anger or recrimination, no mention of boyfriends, her mum, AIDS or this, that and the other. 

In fact he was sunnier and cutesier cuddly than she had so far witnessed, he tried to stroke her hair. Over the next day or so he was proper lovey dovey with her mum, gave her a soppy nickname. It did not suit her mum or him, both her mum and Ruth remarked on it, he said they were amazing and bought them lunch.

Ruth felt a lot of things but none of them she would class as fear. She watched him wondering, why? If he thinks all these things, why doesn’t he leave? Why would he want to touch her if she was so dirty? Why would he stay near someone who he hated so much? Why would he play happily families when it was all a front? What she felt was absolute bafflement, confusion it was truly bizarre. James remained  in this fluffy state for about two days.

 As they made their way round the corner of France into Italy the journey became gradually tenser again, back to the incessant cribbage playing. At Genoa, the roads were high and narrow flyovers, metres and metres above the ground. Betty’s mum was quite startling in how calm she stayed. Betty was a nervous wreck, they both tried to just keep looking at the tarmac in front of them as they drove round and up, round and up it was like so many nightmares they had both had. Betty and her mum went through periods of silent concentration tempered with short bursts of,

“Well done, you’re doing so well” ”won’t be long “  "yes it is frightening isn’t it"

 They were bricking it for about 30 miles of this shit. Or that’s what it felt like.

 James was lying across the back seat with his head down towards the floor, properly as scared as the women. He looked up at Ruth from this position and all  gentleness had gone again, his eyes were boring into her. He was hissing quietly little expletives and morose curses on Ruth and “

Her fucking cunt of a mother, who was shit at driving and would probably kill him any minute”

 Or words to that effect.

Ruth thanks all beautiful things, that James only whispered all this, just loud enough for her to hear, otherwise her mum might have lost concentration.

 Along the way they stopped in Asti at the most amazing campsite looking over the hills and mountains, nestled in a wood it had fireflies and black kitten and after the journey they were having it was a welcome relief. Ruth and her mum did stroke those cats and took some spun out photos.  It was a shame that after dinner, James and her mum got quite royally shitfaced on Jamesons whiskey became maudlin and started to bicker again. Ruth went to her tent, with neither of them noticing that much.

 From Asti they visited, Pisa, Florence and Sienna. In which order, she can’t remember. They picked up Fred from Pisa, that much is certain. 

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