No girl was ever good enough for him. Not in Edith’s eyes. She’d scared off a succession of girlfriends. If they couldn’t make a fruitcake that was firm but moist, or hang curtains or play the piano for guests then they weren’t right for her Gerard. She’d find some test. And after they failed it the whispering would start. ‘Not reliable.’ ‘No social graces.’ ‘Typical modern lass.’

On the evening of his Twenty-fifth birthday Gerard sat alone with her eating slices of perfectly iced cake. As always, on these occasions, Edith bemoaned the lack of a daughter-in-law.  ‘Just don’t know how to treat a man, these young things today.’

Gerard got to his feet. ‘I’m going out, Mother.’

‘Tonight?’

‘The fellows from work—you know how they are.’

‘Of course, dear.’

‘Can I make you a cup of tea before I go?’ He knew she could never resist.

The whole gang was waiting at the pub. ‘About time, Birthday Boy,’ said Cheryl, handing him a beer. ‘How’s your mother?’

Edith thought she might be coming down with something. The tea didn’t taste quite right. And, on reflection, she was feeling a bit queasy. A little lie down, perhaps, she thought. Off to bed with you Edith Peters. Off to——.

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