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Harem Wars: Ottoman life and loathing in the Imperial city.
"Is David really in the shower?"
"No he'd just got out when you called. I couldn't tell her that he didn't want to talk to her." she buried her head in my shoulder."It's so horrible being piggy in the middle Dad. I know she's the one in the wrong, but she's my mum and I love her."
"Of course you do."I said stroking her hair. "And so you should. Leave David to me. If he doesn't want to talk to her then he can tell her himself."
I waited for her to dry her eyes and asked if she and her Gran could finish cooking Christmas dinner. When she said she could, I called up to David.
"David. Get your arse down here; we're going down the pub." He started to protest but I soon stopped that. "You're coming with me or you're feeling the rough end of your Gran's tongue. Which is it to be?"
"OK. OK. I'm coming."
He didn't take kindly to being told to man up. As we walked to the pub his head was down as he suffered the lecture.
"I thought I brought you up better than that." I said. "If you've got an issue with your mother you damned well tell her about it. You do not hide behind your sister."
"Yes you were. Tell her I'm in the shower you said. She's your mother. She brought you into this world. The least you owe her is an explanation."
"How can you be on her side after what she did to you?"
"I'm not siding with her. If I'm siding with anyone it's your sister. She still wants a relationship of some kind with your mother, and you're making it pretty difficult for her."
"So what am I supposed to do, tell her to piss off?"
"If that's the way you feel, yes."
"I can't. I can't do that to her dad."
"Then you can do what your sister does, try to remain friendly or do what I do, be civil to her, treat her like any other person you know. What you don't do, is to get your sister to lie for you. Are we clear on that?"
"Crystal clear, Dad. I suppose that means you want me to get the beers in."
I slapped his back. "Since it probably comes out of my pocket in the long run, I'll get them in."
I was pleased to see that David's first action on getting home was to give his sister a hug and an apology. The rest of the holiday went well and I even got to see Sephie at New Year.
By Easter David was starting to get a little stressed with final exams coming up. He also had to decide what to do about graduation. It was to be held in the cathedral, each student was only allocated two tickets.
"I've been thinking about what you said at Christmas. I think I'd like to give mum a chance to come to my graduation. I only get two tickets so you might find yourself sitting next to her if she comes. Would that be alright with you?"
"No problem for me."
"Well, of course, she may not come."
"She'll come alright, but she'll want to bring arsehole with her."
"She'll be out of luck then, I only get two tickets and you're having one"
Sure enough on a bright July morning I found myself standing in the cathedral waiting for the graduation ceremony to start.
"You're looking well." she said as she took her seat. "The single life must agree with you."
"It has its moments." I looked her up and down."You're looking ... well, tired, if I'm honest."
"I'm not surprised we didn't get in till 3 am."
"Well I hope you took plenty of water with it."
"Don't be sarcastic; you know I'm talking about the flight."
A hush fell over the congregation as they introduced the honorary doctorates being awarded to the great and the good. Each of those honoured gave a short speech, and then the first round of graduates filed in. As they did Penny tried for a bit more conversation.
"You are still single then. I seem to remember a woman talking to me when I called you at home."
"Oh yes, still single, you know what they say, once bitten twice shy."
"I suppose I asked for that. I thought perhaps a woman was responsible for the new look. You never looked like that when we were together."
"Well since you ask it was a woman that caused me to lose weight.