Loose Ends - Excerpt


The crisis had united them, briefly; a family whose normal relations are scratchy and acrimonious.  Their antipathies have taken on, over the years, the characteristics of an endurance sport; the endless, wearisome parry and thrust of bitchy remark and snide non-sequitur, the compulsive purloining of one another’s personal belongings; a circadian round of querulous irritation and reciprocal annoyance. They are all exhausted by it but, like marathon competitors, none will admit defeat. Their rancour inhabits the house like an additional resident with a personality of its own and no-one will admit to spawning it, either severally or individually. Occasionally the brooding atmosphere is relieved by ferocious, physical hostilities; tempers unleashed in vicious tirades, objects hurled, hair pulled out in handfuls, bites that puncture the skin.

But regardless of internal wrangling, a family catastrophe is certain to reunite them in fervent, clannish accord. A disaster spells importance – personal aggrandisement; a sudden bringing to the fore from the nether region of obscurity where they resentfully reside, and for that reason alone they relish it. It puts them centre-stage and any sense of ignominy they might experience at having their dirty laundry aired, as it were, to the public gaze, is wholly eclipsed by the brief but glorious focus of the world’s attention; the Jeremy Kyle effect.