"I once visited him during university in the Summer holidays lured by false stories of Swedish student girls desperately seeking the loss of their virginity and lesbian nudist beaches. Both, as it turned out, unsurprisingly absent and replaced instead by a faded seaside holiday facade where people do not so much go to die as to plan their funerals. He quickly prescribed three weeks of heavy drinking to take the edge off my shock.

They lived in the obligatory ramshackle faded manor house some way down the coast; part ancient rubble, part arrogance the massive unkempt lawns a constant reminder of grander visions. As if a certain architectural contempt for the lower classes would save their name from the inevitable tide of higher-rate income tax, subsidence and the despised rise of the Meritocracy.

I could finally see why he'd once declared his love for boarding school, despite the overwhelming evidence. Any amount of bullying, torture and buggery would seem like Elysium Fields compared to living in this wasteland with his four brothers and veritable madman of a father. All of whom incidentally had the same trademark ugly bush of ginger hair and also I'm pretty sure had the same first name. Anyway by that point I simply wasn't paying attention.

I don't think I will ever forgive him for those three long weeks living like troglodytes in that draughty alabaster and stucco lined disaster. Every night we would raid the vast and increasingly empty cellars under the house searching for an ever more random selection of alcohol to swallow regardless of potential for internal injury, until the unwelcome Sun rose."

Excerpt from "And On"


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