Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Ghosts of Christmas past

After my parents divorced in the 1980s, a new, mostly amicable family tradition emerged, which is that every Boxing Day, the whole extended family (my mum (Marg) and her partner, my dad (Chris) and his wife, plus half-sisters, siblings, aunts, and anyone else who's around) spend Boxing Day together, alternating between Chris's house and Marg's. Particularly in the early years, and also particularly when it was Chris's turn to be host, this was a rather fraught event, for a number of reasons as well as the usual toxic festive mix of everyone being hungry, and having had too much to drink instead, and the usual family fortunes.

Twenty years ago, at Chris's, I had a furious row with Marg which ended in crying and screaming. Flight PanAm 103 had just been blown up over Lockerbie and Marg's then boyfriend, Rob, had gone to Lockerbie in his car, because he worked nearby, and had wandered about the hillside where the debris was scattered. I didn't like Rob much anyway, but when I heard the story being told in hushed tones about how traumatised he'd been by what he'd seen there, I forcefully pointed out that given that the emergency services apparently couldn't get to the scene because of cars packed with sightseers blocking the roads, and even if what drew him there was just human nature, I didn't think that he deserved any sympathy. A plane exploded in the sky and 270 people died; of course it was going to be bad.

Marg was understandably defensive and I was adamant and probably not particularly nice about it, so this discussion was never going to come to a happy accord; pictures taken afterwards show me red-eyed and puffy-faced, and I still remember that sense of dismay at an argument gone too far, with everyone else looking on helplessly.


Claire said...

In this case, the sightseer wasn't much of a seer.

LottieP said...

I was going to change this because I was a bit worried that it sounds like it's about the argument when really it's about Rob. I will think about that.