The Way We Lied


Charles’s letter surprises me but I am not upset by his words. Is this when it happened? Is this when you became the charity guru you are now? You write about a new career and for as long as I can remember your institute has been developing and supporting other charities. You have multiplied your efforts by training and encouraging others in good practice. I am in awe of you.
And I feel for you too, Charles. I’m touched by your words, your need to share this moment in your life. I don’t fully understand what happened, but I can’t criticise you, because you are a good man. You have always been clever, kind and hardworking. You’re like Dad, you don’t know how to stop. Neither of you seem to understand what retirement means.
What did you do before you were head of The Institute for Charitable Ideas? Was it advertising? Why would Alex prefer that to your charitable achievements? But perhaps she gradually grew to accept your work as your acclaim grew. Your face is everywhere any time there is another aid crisis and your opinions are widely respected. You are the face of ethical giving.
And you have led your girls down the same path. They are as beautiful as Alex was, but they have followed your example, they are not frivolous and not at all self centred. Was that hard too? I know they often accompanied you on site visits and to conferences. They must have grown up realising that this was the right way for them to live. And now Lily is a teacher and Daisy a doctor. They are such kind, considerate young women.
I’m reading your letter again, trying to understand what Mary did for you. If she did indeed encourage you to do the work you are doing now, then she did a good thing. I can’t imagine Alex persuading you to switch careers for ethical reasons, only for material ones.
I don’t know what you mean by Mary’s love and whether that implies a physical relationship, but it doesn’t sound as if she was a bad influence, rather a force for good. Is that what she was, Charles? Dare I ask you?

to be continued June 9


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