THE FATHER OF ALL FATHERS
Every morning, Gary Salmon fine-tunes his ego in the mirror. There is the club-tie and the frosty moustache. The ginger hair, raked sideways or back, always ends up like baby-curls in a Telly Tubby meadow but
In a family crisis
Fate decrees that
Work has its uncertainties for
Although supremely confident in his abilities as a professional, lack of assurance in his personal status shows in his clothes. He overdresses for the job. Three-piece suits nowadays are more suitable for funerals (the deceased in particular) than biomedical research. Not quite top of the range either. His self-conscious suits are a source of contempt and subliminal sniggering. This he knows. It is a hostile universe. Nobody is to be trusted. And so he has his shiny bespoke armour, a reassuring carapace. The slovenly, shapeless world can laugh. Geometry is superior to free drawing, pure science to professional success.
But today is Saturday. The outside world can be kept in obeisance. Rubbing behind his ears with a hand-towel, he surveys his brood with a smirk. ‘Today is the day’, he announces. As well he might. Though even his leisurewear is too tight for comfort. His sombre slacks are drainpipes. Everything about him is straight up and down. He could be entering a morgue rather than a kitchen. ‘Today is the day’, he repeats.
Junior eyes Mrs Salmon in puzzlement. ‘The fun fair’, she whispers.
Six hours later in the casualty department of St Lukes Hospital, Gary Salmon confronts the intern. The doctor's youth is less an offence than his deceptively vague manner. ‘I want’, he reiterates in stentorian tones, ‘to see the consultant. I am a colleague.'
Dr Wilmott stands his ground. His nonchalance pretends helplessness. ‘He is off-site and can only be contacted in an emergency.’‘This is an emergency. My son's Iife...’
Wilmott interrupts him with sudden abruptness. ‘Your son is perfectly all right. Just shock. All the tests indicate that even his diabetes was not affected by the fall. His blood sugar is normal. Please take him home. There is nothing wrong with him.’
‘This is not good enough, young man’,
Wilmott looks sharply at his assailant, and realises this man is no older than himself.
In the waiting room, Mrs Salmon tells a sympathetic nurse what happened. Watching her son climb the ladder, reluctantly pushed upwards by an ever vigilant
When the Salmon family checks out, Junior clings to his father and Mrs Salmon supports her boy from behind. And Gary holds them both in an all-embracing grip. The family is together again, against the world. And all is right or wrong with it, depending on who you were. Family life for the next few years is all mapped out. Tonight, for instance, Gary has some important letters to write. He is a master of filing complaints, knows all the procedures.
Mrs Salmon feels herself so fortunate to have such a husband. Gary, in moments of tranquility, thinks so too. Though, of course, he would never admit it to a soul. Junior feels the enveloping closeness between his parents, and this makes him happy. The family bunker is secure.