He’s a sharp dresser – tailored navy suits, thickly knotted ties, chunky cuff-links and shined shoes. He drives past me every morning in a streamlined silver BMW on his way to work; at least I assume that’s where he is going. Most likely a banker, too slick to be a medic and not sharp-featured enough for a lawyer. He weaves deftly, unconcernedly, between the lines of traffic, driving as though the class of his car deserves the obeisance of all the lesser Clios and Polos he passes. If I were closer, I think I would choke on the smell of Old Spice, and hear the dulcet tones of Radio 4. Nothing can rile this man in his suited-up, car-encased shell.
And yet, how is it possible that I see him every day? There are no mansions near me, or classy bachelor pads. The housing estate is not old enough to contain a refurbished Victorian treasure. It is not on the way to anywhere important in the eyes of a man who drives a BMW. Then one day, I am walking along the road at an earlier time and I see him. Not in his car, not in his suit. Standing in the drive of a terraced house, wearing shorts, washing an old Volkswagen. Fondly watching him from the doorway is an old lady.
The shell is off, and what lies beneath is the remarkable, surprising love of a son for his mother.