We were all excited for Christmas 1989. Kay and I would be at home and Sally, Kay’s sister, would be bringing her new-born son, now three months old, for a long-awaited visit.
But there was a black cloud on the horizon. Sally told Kay that married life was not going well. Risto, Sally’s husband, had been spending a lot of time away from home. This was not in itself out of the ordinary. As a junior partner in his practice he attended many site meetings. They lived in Umtata at a time of rapid apartheid expansion. There were new casinos on the coast and lots of building was going on at the time, creating frenetic energy and attracting contractors, builder’s suppliers and architects. The inevitable happened. She was very young, attractive and available. He could not resist. And small-town gossip made sure that Risto’s infidelity was found out.
I was outraged, I felt personally betrayed. Such an act of deceit would definitely not go unpunished. We were not sure if Risto would be joining us for Christmas lunch but he did show up, arriving with a flourish in his shiny, yellow MG convertible sports car. I poured myself a glass of wine and prepared to do battle.
Lunch was a tense affair given the “elephant in the room”. It took me another glass or two of crisp white wine to find my sense of indignation, but once I found it, there was no holding back. I was unstoppable. I gave slime-ball a real working over. Soon the bottles were empty and I was well into my stride. My focus was my own hurt; I did not even notice how uncomfortable everyone else was feeling. “Let’s go for a drive, Tom. Let me show you this beauty.” Risto tried to break the tension.
Drunk, angry and belligerent, I agreed. “Don’t have an accident.” The parting injunction from Kay. “Don’t worry Kay, it’s not my car,” I said, leaning back in the passenger seat.
Risto and I drove off into the balmy, late Christmas afternoon.