This article is taken from Stand 233, 20(1) May - July 2022.

Mark Martin Good Works
‘What do you imagine God thought when you beat your children?’ That was the question I imagined putting to my grandfather in the event we ever met again. I was very protective of Mum at the time. ‘You must have had doubts about what you were doing because, as I understand it, you stopped abruptly when Aunt Ruth turned rebellious. Mum said you changed when you found Ruth drinking cider on the green and she ran away to live on the houseboat. You didn’t want to drive your youngest down the same path, I suppose. Was that a matter of self-interest or piety?’

There would be no anger discernible in my voice or manner, though my words were chosen for their potential to infuriate. As a cold-blooded student of human nature, I would turn a gelid eye on Stanley Mateless, bending a mind shaped by the study of literature and the sciences on a man who read nothing but the Bible and Christian mystics. My coolness would be devastating. As a little boy, I had thrilled at visits from this shabby bearded wizard of a granddad, who had invested boundless energy in outdoor games and the building of dens. But those memories would not protect Stanley from the scalpel thrust of my intellect. Oh, no. Not now I was a grown man and my widowed mother had shared with me the horrors of being brought up by a holy fool.

When I saw him next, it was at the bus stop on Drummer Street. I was on my way to Durham, where I’d recently graduated. ...
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