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The Island Of Serenity
What he hadn’t taken into account was, that in England, as with many other parts of the world, joining a golf or tennis club is to join the elite in that society. J.J. was certainly not part of the elite of any society, and his application was immediately and unceremoniously rejected. After his coup-d’état, and his purchase of the local works, suddenly, his application was rediscovered and immediately accepted. My father’s response, which I later realised was an intrinsic part of his character, was to graciously accept their invitation, on the clear understanding that each and every member of the application committee would be barred from the club for life. To begin with, the club refused this deal, it was only when he suggested that certain members of his workforce; who were members, family of members or good friends of members, might find their jobs becoming redundant for the factory’s functioning, that the club ceded to his request. My father did have a rather tough streak, especially when his pride was put into question. For instance, there was the time that Maman decided that we should have a butler; a perfect gentleman, ramrod straight, beautifully spoken, always impeccably dressed. Quite the opposite of my father’s, all too casual attire, rough language and slouchy, ambling walk. One Saturday afternoon, my father became unreasonably irritated by the state of the pathway, as he was expecting a guest that he had never met before, and, due to a lack of availability of anyone else to be instructed to clean it, took a broom and started to brush it himself. This was not such an unusual occurrence; as he was not above doing any menial task himself, if he decided that it needed doing, and now, and at a moment that there was no-one else around to do it. This might include vacuuming the stair carpets, at 2 o’clock in the morning, if the dog had the audacity to track its muddy paws through the house, after the staff had left for the night. Unfortunately, by happenstance, two other events coincided with his cleaning operation; firstly, the butler came out to the terrace to take a break and smoke a cigarette. At the same moment, a car drove up and a young gentleman get out, my father’s guest. He quickly leant the brush against a tree and went up to greet him. The man glanced, first at my father, then at the butler, elegantly leaning on a post, smoking his cigarette, and asked, in the politest of manners, ‘Please inform Mr. Ferguson that Mr. Foster has arrived’. ‘Please inform Mr. Foster’, my father replied, just as politely, ‘that Mr. Ferguson would like him off his property in the next 30 seconds and please to never contact him EVER again!’ The poor bemused man first looked to the butler, who quickly finished his cigarette, and returned into the house, and then at my father. It only took a few more seconds for the penny to drop. ‘Oh, Mr. Ferguson, I am so terribly sorry, I do so hope that you can forgive me for my silly mistake.’ ‘Mr. Foster, you have exactly ten seconds left before I call the police,’ and with that, he turned and walked back into the house. Mr. Foster we never saw nor heard of again, and the butler was packed and out before the end of the afternoon. This was a story, repeated, from time to time, often at the dinner table, by my father himself, who seemed to take a certain pleasure in revealing just how reactive and characterial, he was capable of being. At what moments, one might inquire, would my parents, who seemed painfully absent during my early years, be sharing their dining table with me?