Exclusive Extract: Separation


Let me stop a moment to introduce a little known character, the chief character in so many real-life scenarios, although severely neglected in literature and plays. Let me introduce THE BABY, at present fast asleep in her cot, eyes fluttering to the universal tune of Brahms’ Lullaby, looking mild and peaceful. THE BABY is a figure of enormous consequence, never to be underestimated. Watch a baby of a few weeks kick its legs. Oh – the power of that soft skin and appealing blue eyes. Lovers – beware of babies. The baby wants the mother all to itself. It doesn’t want the father with his bristly chin. Go away father. Go back to your work. I shall wake my mother at night. I shall stare searchingly into her eyes. I will need her so much she will forget all about you. And you will be left alone in your bed. She will cease to buy clothes for herself. She will buy them only for me. I will suck at her breasts. I restore her and destroy her. She will wash the creases of my fat thighs. She will long for me to sleep and when I sleep she will long for me to wake. She is in love, you see. Shhh… it’s the secret women never tell. You were just the booby trap nature set up to send her hurtling into my arms. All the make-up she put on and the pounding music you listened to, and the hot kisses you shared, it all leads only to me, the beginning and the end of things, a new age-old bald person, a Buddha giving meaning and taking it all away.

A young girl’s wriggling hips, the roar of a motorbike, the tightness of black leather, it all leads to a nursery decorated with pink pigs.

And the funniest thing of all, the really hilarious thing, is that few guess it. Most adults believe the central drama of existence is love between a man and a woman.

In fact, we run the show. We send men out to work with briefcases when they would like to be explorers. We twist and turn families with our gurgles and our cries. We make even the most sensible childless women go broody and sad in the coolness of the night. We make a woman with three impossible, horrid children want a fourth and destroy herself completely. We make men stay with women they don’t love, and we make men leave women they do. We make people completely happy and absolutely miserable. On warm drunken summer days we make lovers forget to remember.

Beware of babies. Joke about their dirty nappies, disparage their eating habits, laugh at their elderly expressions, complain about the way they wake you at night, but never underestimate their power.

They are the third person in many a bitter love triangle, they are the menders of many broken lives, they blink their blue eyes and the world turns in obedience.

This particular baby, Kate Richardson, is certainly no exception. Ravishingly innocent, momentously tiny, she is making her steely mother into her slave, or trying to. Her mother is attempting to fight back. It will be interesting to see who wins, and to judge whether whoever wins really has won.