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Prologue.

The dawns early light tip toeing over the mountain tops here in Chamonix. I am contemplating David’s funeral this Thursday and pondering my journey home to say a poignant au revoir when I discovered (by Facebook messenger) from our cousin Andy Roy my careless brothers Stuart and Martin Roy had jumped the gun and buried our father yesterday… two days ahead of the planned cremation, therefore robbing his friends and family of their opportunity to say goodbye.

Wreaths will go undelivered, his name spelt in white carnations and chrysanthemum. Days taken off work will be spent elsewhere.

Stuart and Martin, this was a desperate act of self sabotage.

The following was written before the fateful message…

1.

My father David Roy, even if he merely adopted me to save my Mother’s blushes, even if he was a violent family man from whom our mother failed to rescue herself or… us.  Do we need to punish him in death?  My brothers Martin and Stuart Roy seem to think so. Who are they punishing?  They cannot hurt him.  They merely seek to injure the living.

This picture of David on the left with his brothers Jimmy and Alec taken in 1964.

As he lay dying they were emptying his home.

My father was a social man, an avid sportsman, surrounded every night by his friends… described by my unsocial Mother as his ‘cronies’.  This week, after he heard I had spoken to my father’s best friend Don, Martin Roy called Don and screamed at him, told him he could not come to the funeral, to stay ‘out of his family’.  Don said no one had ever spoken to him like that.   I remember Martin screaming at me… when I told the truth about our abusive father in my film AKA. Screaming, screaming to quiet the noise in his own head. Martin needs help… help to forgive, help letting go.

Martin Roy, I suggest you spend your meagre inheritance seeking answers before you destroy your son Oscar with your toxic nature.  You think he’s oblivious to these rank shenanigans?  You think sensitive little Oscar brought up by our mother in your home is… oblivious?  Amazingly, you think our mother is going to succeed with Oscar when she failed so miserably with us?

My father’s friend Don sobbed on the phone as he described David’s last painful hours. My father begged Don not to leave him at the hospital, he didn’t want to be on his own when he died. He was terrified of being on his own. He called Don.

“Are you at the football club?” he asked.

“No, Dave.  It’s 6am.”

Don seemed shocked by my father’s vulnerability, he did not recognise the man laying before him.  I think Dave’s confusion… scared him.  David did not call on his sons to help him face death.  He knew he had ravaged us.  He knew he would have to face the truth when he looked into our eyes.  David did not want the truth.  He called upon his friends who sat beside him as he took his last breath.

David Roy knew what kind of funeral he wanted.  David wanted the funeral procession to pass by Cain’s, and linger a few minutes outside the arcade where he worked on Herne Bay seafront.  He specified songs and hymns he wanted playing.  He wanted, as the mourners left the chapel for a recording of Take That’s A Million Love Songs to remind them he was with them, he would always be with them.

All week I’ve been trying to have David’s last wishes honoured but I was thwarted by my brothers.  The lady at the funeral home was very sympathetic.  The young man at the crematorium told me my brothers had bought the cheapest funeral on offer.  I told the family to ignore my brother’s threats.  I encouraged them to go to the funeral and say their last goodbye.  I hope the family and friends who loved David attend the funeral in Barham tomorrow.  I hope they ignore the protestations of David’s two mortally wounded sons.

How much money could one pay a child to endure a miserable childhood?  How much does it cost to beat a boy so badly he loses his way?  How much money could one pay an adolescent for an absent father?  How much money is it worth to a grown man to have his children ignored by his own father?  What inheritance should a man receive for a life he knows his indifferent father thinks worthless?

Did David visit either of his sons in Prison?  Martin and Stuart both had stints in prison for drugs and guns.  Usual white trash bull shit.  Nothing serious.

I’ve been thinking a great deal of my brothers this week.  The price they paid for a destroyed family, the tragedy they endured.  I thought of my brother Stuart and how much he suffered at his father’s hands and what little he will be paid for that suffering.  I know for sure Stuart has never spoken to a therapist.  Recently, on his way home from a convivial evening with friends, he was beaten in the street.  Two boys took him down and a girl hammered a stiletto into his head, his wife Lucy screaming… pulling them off his frail body.  Apparently he has not recovered from the attack.  The beating he received as an adult must have reminded him of the beatings he received as a child. And what of crazy Martin? After years of hard-drinking, raving and hallucinogenics his wife falls down dead, his son left crawling over the corpse.  What is that worth?

David Roy was not my blood father but he took the time to adopt me, saving my Mother the shame of having to explain her teenage indiscretion.  When I found out David was not my father I was relieved… however, whatever happened between us I ended up feeling warmly toward him.  Like a stranger in the street.  I held no malice.  This last thirty years I had written plays and films… I had spoken to therapists and counsellors and psychiatrists.  Eventually I understood all I had… was my story and I knew in my heart: I am not my story, I am NOT my story.  My forgiveness is real.

I hope Stuart and Martin find peace of mind… I doubt they ever will.

2.

I spent my birthday weekend with friends who live near Lari, Tuscany.

My friend Rachel lives with her husband Rick and their two daughters in a spacious converted barn. They have very territorial cats who immediately attacked poor Dude sinking their claws into his back.  The screams were horrible to hear.  Poor Dude.

Rachel’s delightful, wiry husband is such a BOY!  Rick works as an engineer and loves paragliding, planes, boats and motorbikes all of which litter the huge plot of land they share with goats and their donkey Pablo.  Rick was friendly, sympathetic and an incredibly attentive host.  He took me to the local communist bar in Lari where we enjoyed wonderful views over vineyards where we smoked rolled cigarettes and drank espresso.

Rachel is the kind of Mother I wish I had.  Kind, attentive, protective.  I watched her parent her children, patiently guiding them… and I felt insulted, aggrieved.  Insulted by the lack of love in my own childhood.  Aggrieved the love I had for men was, until recently, maligned and devalued.  I was not taught to love and the love I had for others dare not speak its name.

We had supper with her friend Steven, an elderly heterosexual english man with a partner 40 years his junior.  He took us to a pork sandwich, hole in the wall restaurant… very Tuscan, perfect.  We discussed Wilde, he was fascinated and fascinating.

I explored Pisa with their handsome nephew Davide and enjoyed Rick’s beautiful beach home in Castiglioncello on the Tuscan coast, once the home of Marcello Mastroianni.  We ate squid ink pasta at a perfect beach side restaurant near the Villa Godilonda.  On the way home I enjoyed the Umbrella Pines planted by the Medici.  I love Umbrella Pines.

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Lari is famous for the pasta company Martelli.  And thank God it has this company manufacturing pasta right in the middle of Lari.  So many little towns in Tuscany have been affected by the economic disaster of 2007.  So many crumbling mansions.  So little to look forward to.  This hillside fort has everything going for it including a theatre festival which began this week.

It was a perfect escape.  A few hours drive from Chamonix.  And thank God for the Mont Blanc tunnel.