Part 1 : A Childhood in Africa
Chapter 1 : Blows to the Head and Flutters in the Heart
I can’t remember anything about my early life…
…until I was 5 years old. It was 1952 and I remember falling off my trike and my dad scrubbing my knees with soap and water and then rubbing iodine into the open wounds. So I remember that – because of the pain. But it’s not surprising that I have no memories before then because, when I was 1 year old, Poo McKay dropped me on my head on the concrete floor of an empty swimming pool. We were living in Salisbury, the capital of Southern Rhodesia, at the time. Poo was only 3 and she’d said, ‘Can I hold the baby, please?’ So they’d given her the baby, and she’d dropped it on its head. And I’d passed out. In fact I’d gone into convulsions, and it was several minutes before I came round. My mum, Daph, then breathed a sigh of relief and everyone by the pool breathed a sigh of relief, and that was that. (You didn’t go to the doctor’s in those days: the fact that you’d actually survived a bang on the head was medicine enough.)
In the years that followed, I suffered a series of blows to the head until I was 16, which probably explains the state of my brain today and my passion for stories and wild romance.
In fact, Poo Mackay was one of my earliest flutters of the heart. She was Alec Mackay’s daughter, and her real name was Hilary, but for some inexplicable reason everyone called her Poo. She was very pretty, with slightly buck teeth, and I adored her. Not that she was my first love. My first love was Antoinette Passaportis. Her father, Theo, was in the Rhodesian Army with my father, Jock, and she was one of three Passaportis kids, two girls and a boy. I can’t remember the boy’s name. (Why would I?) But I can remember the girls. The youngest one was Desiree, and then there was Antoinette. I first clapped eyes on Antoinette at the sports field while we were watching our dads play rugby. I was 5 years old and a funny little thing, with a large head, big ears, matchstick legs, and a propensity to fantasise and daydream. Antoinette was a little bit older, maybe 6 or 7, and she was the most glorious creature that walked on two legs. She had long dark hair and a beautiful face. And at 5 years old, I knew I was in love.
Then, when I was 6 – she kissed me! Antoinette Passaportis kissed me! It was behind the fir trees near the Officers’ Mess at King George VI barracks during a game of Hide-and-Seek. Every Saturday after the rugby match, all the parents used to gather in the Officers’ Mess bar while the kids played outside on the lawn. And on this particular Saturday, Antoinette kissed me. I didn’t kiss her. She kissed me! On the lips. It was magical … Well, I don’t know if it really was ‘magical’, but at 6 years old it felt magical. And I just thought, ‘Wow! This beautiful girl has kissed me.’
My adoration for Antoinette must’ve gone on for some time. For years, even. Because when I was 9, she came to visit. Her mother had come to lunch with my mum, and Antoinette came too – obviously just to check out Miles Anderson to see if he was still the same boy that she’d kissed at 6. And at 10 she was even more beautiful. She was dressed to the nines, and her mum was, too. But I’d forgotten they were coming and was wearing nothing but a pair of old shorts. I was out in the backyard making sadza over a wood fire with an old tin can as a cooking pot. Sadza was a porridgy dish that the servants ate, but I loved it and I was cooking this pot for me. And then they pitched up, Antoinette and her mother, both dressed to the nines! The 10-year-old beauty came out into the backyard, and she looked at me and she looked at the pot, and she asked, ‘Who are you cooking that sadza for?’
‘It’s for the dog,’ I replied. (Well, I couldn’t admit it was for me, what with the servants an’all.) So I gave it to the dog. Hot, steaming sadza. Poor dog…
* * * *
The next blow to the head was when I was 10. We were living in Selarang Barracks in Singapore and it was 1957. (We spent much of 1956 and 1957 in Singapore and Malaya because my dad was the commander of the First Battalion of the Rhodesian African Rifles. Sometimes he would have to go to Malaya on his own for months at a time fighting in the jungles, while we stayed in Singapore with mum.) On this particular day, I was outside on a swing, and I’d decided to put a chair on the wooden seat to make the swing higher, to make the experience more dangerous, more thrilling – more like the circus. I so wanted to be in the circus. I was in love with Tickey the Clown. Not that I wanted to be Tickey because Tickey was a dwarf. No, I wanted to be one of the trapeze artists. Because even at that age, I was fascinated by the female trapeze artists’ crotches. Right up there in those high-cut costumes.
I must’ve been 5 or 6 when I first went to the circus – around the same age that David Moss persuaded me to lie in the ditch. He was older than me, and he was an evil little bugger – a bit of a jawler, a cad. He was spoilt rotten and his parents allowed him to get away with anything. And he persuaded me to lie in the ditch and say to the girl next door – Cherry Wilson was her name and she must have been at least 11 at the time, if not older – ‘Show us your knickers! Come and show us your knickers!’ When Cherry’s mother came round to see my mother and said, ‘Your son was in the ditch with David Moss, telling my daughter to show them her knickers,’ Daph made me wash my mouth out with Lifebuoy soap, and I wasn’t allowed to go to the circus. She locked me in the lavatory for what must have been two hours, though it seemed like a hundred years. Then she let me out and locked me in my room, while the rest of the family went to the circus. (My mother’s punishments were usually quite brisk. They entailed a hairbrush on your bum, or she would ban you to your room ‘for life’ – which usually meant an hour or two, until she said, ‘You can come out now.’)
We’d go to the circus maybe once every six months. It was always Boswells, which was a very big, very good, South African travelling circus. They had Tickey the Clown and his mate Stompie, and lions and tigers and sawdust and straw – but if I went to the circus, what I wanted to see more than anything else was the trapeze artists. And not only because of the ladies’ crotches, I just thought they were the bee’s knees, these beautiful women in these amazing costumes cut so high, with those legs that were eight feet long, spinning through the air and catching each other without a safety net. So in Singapore that afternoon I put the chair on the swing so that I could be like a trapeze artist. And I swung up and I swung down, and I swung up and I swung down. And when I’d mastered that, I wanted to see if I could do it without any hands. So I swung up, I swung down, I swung up, I let go of the ropes and, as I swung down, I fell off backwards and landed straight on my head.
I must’ve lain there for some time. Until suddenly, Winston appeared. Winston was my father’s batman in Rhodesia and, while my dad was in Malaya, Winston had been sent to live with my mum in Singapore to make her feel a bit safer and to do some work around the house. (Daph liked having a black man around, she felt secure. I think she must have missed the black Africans, living out there in Singapore.) Winston picked me straight off the ground and bounced me up and down. Daph came rushing out and began to remonstrate with him, but, ‘No, madam, no!’ he insisted forcefully. And he bounced me and he bounced me and he bounced me.
‘C’mon, Boss Miles, c’mon,’ he urged.
And while I was bouncing, my mum was going demented, wailing at Winston to stop all the bouncing. But he was right: when we eventually got to the doctor’s and Daph explained what had happened, the doctor said it was the best thing that Winston could have done. All that bouncing had sent the blood rushing round my system and prevented a clot from forming. (Apparently that’s what can happen when you knock yourself out: you get a bruise on your head and then the damage is done.)
* * * *
It was another two years before I was knocked out again. It was 1959, I was at Routledge Junior School in Salisbury (now Harare) and I was 12. We’d come back to Rhodesia from Singapore and Malaya, and Jock and Daph had gone on a six-week holiday – to get away from myself and my two brothers, I guess, and to give my dad some time to be with my mum after all the to-ings and fro-ings between Singapore and Malaya. So they put us into boarding schools for one term: my older brother John went to the senior school, Prince Edward, while my younger brother Colin was in Routledge with me. Routledge was mainly a football-playing school, but I decided I wanted to box because Clive Kluckow boxed, and Clive Kluckow was my friend. Clive’s dad, Geoff, coached us every Friday: me, Clive and ten other boys, all in a little boxing-ring by the hut. I’d whack the punchbag and Geoff Kluckow would yell, ‘No, no! Lead, lead! Double, double! Tap-tap-tap…!’ And Clive would get stuck into the bag. And I’d get stuck into the bag. And then Clive and I would spar. But because Clive was a hundred times better than me – and very, very quick and very, very strong for his age – he’d knock seven kinds of shit out of me. Still, I took it all, and I always came back for more.
For the whole of 1959 I boxed, and I even went with the Routledge team to the Marendellas School contest. At that time, Clive and I boxed the same weight – which was ‘gnat weight’, the tiniest weight. There was junior middle-weight, junior welter-weight, junior fly-weight, mosquito-weight and gnat-weight, and these were the five weights that went to the contest. That meant there were five boys in the team plus the reserve. The thing about the reserve was he had to be able to box every weight, he might even have to box boys the size of a house, because if you look at boys aged 11 and 12, there can be some pretty big buggers among them. It was decided that Clive was to box gnat-weight in the team, and I was to be the reserve.
The skipper of my dormitory at Routledge round that time was Iggie Landsberg. He was a senior prefect, as well as being captain of the football team, and he liked me because I was funny. I enjoyed making people laugh. (I’m really a clown by nature.) But Iggie’s little brother – Willie Landsberg, who adored his older brother – took a jealous dislike to me. As a result of which, little brother (who was a big bugger with it) always seemed to have it in for me.
At the end of each term at Routledge, every boy was allowed to have what was called a ‘grudge fight’, which meant you could challenge anyone to a punch-up. (With gloves on, of course.) Your opponent could refuse the challenge if he wanted, though it was usually only the cowards who refused. Mid-term, the form master, Pete Pienaar (the hardest dooker around – you didn’t want to get thrashed by him) would come around to all the dormitories and say, ‘Okay, some of you are having a tough time this term, so if you want, you can challenge whoever you like to a grudge fight. You can have three one-minute rounds, and I’ll be the referee to make sure no one gets hurt too much.’ It was a brilliant idea because if you really wanted to get your own back on someone, you legitimately could. At least, it was a brilliant idea in theory…
In the middle of this particular term – when Form Master Pienaar came round and said, ‘Does anyone want a fight?’ – Willie Landsberg’s hand shot up and he said, ‘Yeah, I do…’ And I just knew he was going to pick me.
Form Master Pienaar turned to me and said, ‘Anderson, are you alright for that?’ And before I could stop myself, the word, ‘Yep’ leapt out of my mouth. I thought, ‘You idiot! Why didn’t you say no?’ (I guess because I wasn’t a coward.)
That was it: the grudge-fight was settled.
From that moment on, I began to take even more interest in my boxing training, because I knew that in six weeks’ time I’d have to fight Willie Landsberg. By God, whenever I went to boxing, I trained like you couldn’t believe, so that by the time it came to the championship contest in Marendellas, I’d become quite a good fighter – even though I was only going as the team reserve.
We all travelled to the contest in a minibus with our coach, Geoff Kluckow. As soon as we arrived, we realised that Marendellas was a huge farming community, full of Afrikaana farmers with beefy kids, who’d grown up from the age of 3 beating ‘kaffirs’. And it didn’t make any difference to them if, for once, they were beating white boys: they could just imagine a different colour and hit them like they were black.
‘Thank God I’m just the reserve,’ I thought, as we gawped at the opposition, ‘thank God I’m not fighting any of this crowd.’
And Clive Kluckow looked at his opponent and thought, ‘Crikey! He’s a beefy guy…!’ And I looked at his opponent too, thinking that this was the guy I’d be fighting if Clive was the reserve and I was in the team.
Suddenly the boy who was our top weight fighter developed a chronic pain… ‘Suddenly’ developed a ‘chronic pain’…! And everyone groaned, ‘Oh Christ, how awful!’ And slowly it dawned on me what was going to happen. The reason why he’d ‘suddenly’ developed a ‘chronic pain’ was that he was competing against a guy called Blignaut (perhaps it was a relative of Butch Blignaut who was a Rhodesian champ. He was a big, big bloke, two – no, three – weights above me. But since I was the reserve, it would be me who would now have to fight him! It was ludicrous: it was like a fly-weight fighting a super-middle-weight! Coach Kluckow turned to me and said, ‘Okay, Anderson, you’re the reserve – you’re going to have to fight.’ And before I could stop myself, the word ‘Yep’ leapt out of my mouth yet again. I looked across the room and thought, ‘Christ…Jesus…God…!’
‘Whatever you do,’ Geoff Kluckow was saying, ‘just stay away from him. Jab him and stay away. And keep your guard up, just keep your guard up.’ (Actually Geoff Kluckow was a great boxing trainer, because all he was thinking was, ‘How can I best help Anderson not get hurt too much and yet still score some points off this bloody big bloke?’)
I did exactly what Geoff Kluckow said. I jabbed and I danced and I stayed away. Blignaut poked me a couple of times, but that was fine.
Then suddenly he bashed me. Twice. My head went, ‘Phut, phut…’ They were hard blows and I knew that behind them there was steel. I thought, ‘If I get caught on the end of another of those punches, I’m dead.’ So I danced away from him. I danced and I danced. He’d find me occasionally, but I was quick on my feet, I was awake, I was alert. Maybe I’d take a left, but I’d dance away – because I knew that if I didn’t, I was dead.
There were three 1½-minute rounds, and I danced and I danced. And I kept thinking, ‘Enough is enough, you know.’ But I knew that the end was getting closer. Then I heard the bell. Phew! But as the bell went, ‘Dong!’, Blignaut went ‘Bam!’ And he hit me – hard as steel – right on the jaw. I don’t think he meant to hit me after the bell, he’d probably already wound for the punch and just couldn’t stop the momentum. But all I remember is ‘Thwack!’ Like the sound you hear when you have a car crash. And I can’t remember anything else…
Next thing is I’m opening my eyes… And there’s this blue… And I hear, ‘Whoosh…whoosh….’ There’s wind…There are leaves… There’s a face… And then another face… And these faces…faces… And one face is saying, ‘It’s alright, he’s coming to…’ And another face is saying, ‘He’s alright, he’s alright…’ And I don’t know where…the leaves…the blue…
…And right over there on the other side of the field is the boxing hall. I’ve already been carried out of the boxing hall and laid underneath a tree, so I’ve been out cold for quite some time. And as I look up, there’s another face gazing down at me, and it’s the boy I’ve just fought, but now the face is so worried-looking, and he’s saying, ‘D’you want a coke?’ and he’s offering me a coca cola. Blignaut is handing me the coke and I’m taking some sips. ‘Thanks…’
When it came to the end-of-term grudge fight, Willie Landsberg didn’t touch me. Not only did he not touch me, but I had him absolutely crying at the end of three rounds. Form Master Pienaar watched in amazement as I danced around this big fella. I danced and I danced and I danced. Every time Willie swung at me, I’d go, ‘Bam!’ and hit him on the top of the head. Then he’d get angry with me and take a wide, bloody swing at me. ‘Bam!’ I’d go. ‘Bam!’ and I’d hit him again, but all he could do was bash back at thin air. By the end of the fight he was running right at me. But I’d step aside and go, ‘Bam! Bam!’ on top of his head and he’d simply collapse like a straw in the wind. His brother Iggie was screaming at him, ‘Come on, Willie! Come on, Will!’ Suffice it to say, I became persona non grata as far the older brother was concerned: to humiliate his little brother like this was way beyond a joke. But as for Willie – he paid me respect after that. He didn’t pick on me again.
My boxing went from strength to strength. I even went on to fight Ginger Morris at the Rhodesian Championships. Clive Kluckow had already refused to box Ginger Morris, saying to his dad, ‘I’m not fighting that. I can’t beat this guy. No way am I fighting Ginger Morris.’ So Geoff Kluckow said to me, ‘Clive’s not fighting Ginger Morris. Do you want to fight him?’ And I said, ‘Yep!’ and this time the word hadn’t just leapt out of my mouth. ‘Yep!’ I cried. ‘Go on, let me at him!’ Because Ginger Morris was the champ, and I wanted to fight a champ.
When it came to the Championships, Ginger Morris clouted me. He was a real prize boxer. But I still managed to bring tears to his eyes in the third round. Yes, a couple of times I hit him so bloody hard, I actually brought tears to his eyes. Geoff Kluckow was so proud. And Ginger Morris didn’t even knock me out, he simply won on points. At the end of the fight, my head was like a balloon on the side of my face. It was liquid, my face. And when my mum saw my pulpy head, she said to my dad, ‘Right, that’s enough. This has to stop.’ As far as she was concerned, I’d reached a certain level and it was time to give up the boxing.
* * * *
So in eleven years, I’d been knocked out by Blignaut. Knocked out by Poo Mackay. Knocked out on the swing. Floored by Ginger Morris. And now I’m 14 and I’m staying with Terry Cutter, my bosom mate since we were 8. We’d been boy criminals at Llewellin Barracks in Bulawayo (where my dad had been posted in 1955) and we absolutely adored each other.
Terry was spoiled rotten. Anything he wanted to have, his father, Ted, would give him. Anything. So he had a horse. Two, in fact. So when I went to stay with him, we went riding.
We’d just robbed the bank. (We used to do the whole thing: we’d rob the bank and we’d get on our horses, and we’d start our horses going… Keddunk, keddunk, keddunk… We’d swing under their bellies while still holding their necks, and we’d shoot with our pretend pistols… P-chow! P-chow! P-chow!... It was just like being in the circus again.)
So we’d just robbed the bank and we were riding across the veldt. Our horses were galloping hard, and we didn’t think to look down to see if there were any rabbit holes or culverts or ditches or dips, we just went. We were galloping hard and I was following Terry. And as we were galloping, he suddenly glanced back at me and screamed, ‘Right!’ But I couldn’t hear what he was saying.
‘Turn right! Turn right with me!’ he was yelling. But I just couldn’t hear him and, as he turned right, I kept going straight. My horse suddenly stopped, but my body kept going. Below me was a quarry, and I flew down, down, down, down…straight onto my head…
I came round to see Terry Cutter looking over the edge of the quarry.
‘Are you alright? Hey? You alright?’
‘Not really.’ I was completely dazed.
Terry hoisted me back onto my horse and we started to ride home.
We’d been riding for about half an hour when I began to feel a bit better, my head was a bit clearer. Then, as we neared the stables, the horses sensed they were coming home and they broke into a gallop. I just wasn’t strong enough or sufficiently in control of myself to rein in my horse and I simply let him gallop, thinking, ‘Now we’re going to do the same thing all over again…’
Sure enough, as the horse came into the stables – ka-dumf, ka-dumf, ka-dumf – I went wheeeeee….and landed on my head again. Twice in an hour. Maybe this was God saying, ‘Hey, Anderson, don’t do horses!’ Whatever the moral, we said nothing to Terry’s mum.
The next day I couldn’t even move.
‘Miles isn’t feeling well,’ said Terry to his mum.
‘Maybe I’ve eaten something or had too much sun,’ I added, limply.
It just so happened that Daph came to visit that afternoon. She had some business in Bulawayo and she popped in to see Pam Cutter for tea.
‘Miles isn’t feeling well,’ said Pam to Daph. ‘We think he might have eaten something or had too much sun.’
When eventually my mother discovered the truth, she was very, very cross. ‘I knew you’d fallen off the horse,’ she declared, ‘because your head was all swollen.’ Again.
* * * *
My long-suffering mother endured many consequences of the blows to my head, not to mention the flutters in my heart.
It’s now 1963 and I’m 16and I’ve just got my driving licence and I’ve borrowed Daph’s car. It’s a Renault Dauphine with the engine in the back: a stunning 1960s’ classic, in a lovely, grey-brown colour which only a French company would think to make. And I’ve borrowed it one Sunday to drive out to meet up with Pete Whaley at his girlfriend’s house. She was fondly known as ‘Charlotte the Harlot’.
I took rather a shine to Charlotte: she certainly gave me a flutter. She was voluptuous and gypsy-looking, with Mediterranean roots. What you might call ‘sultry’. And I was impressed by her. She was kind of loose, and I thought that she must be as dirty as hell. I didn’t have a girlfriend. I was the sort of 16-year-old whom the girls thought was ‘sweet’, and no one ever looked at me with amorous intent. They’d come over all confidential, slip their arm into mine, and just as I’d think they were going to say that they loved me, they’d tell me they were in love with my best friend.
That afternoon, we were all sitting round at Charlotte’s parents’ house having a few beers, when suddenly she said, ‘Come on, let’s drive out to the stables. Come on, I’ll drive.’
‘You’re not driving my car,’ said Pete Whaley. ‘You can’t drive.’
But I wanted to impress Charlotte, so I said, ‘You can drive mine if you like.’
In we got, just me and Charlotte, because nobody else wanted to come in the same car as us: ‘Charlotte’s driving? No way, man! We’ll go with Pete.’
And off we set, about eight of us in different vehicles.
We all drove up to the stables. We all looked at the horses. Then we all drove back. It was only about a mile and a half to Charlotte’s parents’ place, and you had to drive along the strip road, where there was nothing but two strips of tarmac cutting through the bush. Most of the roads were built like that in order to save on tarmac. And most of the roads were very worn, so that if you came off the strips you had to be sure your hands were firmly on the wheel. If they weren’t, you were in danger of overcorrecting your steering and then all sorts of things could go wrong.
As we were driving home, Charlotte suddenly put her foot down on the accelerator. My mum’s car sped up to about 50 miles an hour and I began to feel uneasy, but I didn’t want to cramp her style – I was far too ‘sweet’ for that.
At that moment and as if from nowhere, a group of Africans appeared ahead of us, walking towards us along the strip road.
‘Christ!’ screeched Charlotte. ‘I’ve got to get off the road.’ And she rammed her foot onto the accelerator.
Immediately she veered off the strips. As she did so, the car began to shift as it inevitably would, and Charlotte overcorrected as she inevitably would, and the car started to slide.
‘Don’t…Touch…The…Brake!’ I said very slowly and deliberately.
She looked over at me with that look girls get, which means, ‘Don’t tell me what to do!’ And she hit the brakes.
The back of the car careered round to the front and Charlotte tried to correct the steering. But it was no use – we’d already gone into a skid. The car – now travelling at 60 miles an hour – snaked across the strips and hit a two-foot high culvert which was banking part of the road. The car then high-jumped a four-strand barbed wire fence without even touching the wire. It ploughed headlong into a musassa tree, with the kind of sound you hear when Butch Blignaut belts you one. With the force of hitting the musassa tree, the engine – which was in the rear of the car – flew about 100 feet through the air, and was found some days later in a maize field. The roof rammed straight through the bonnet and the car was cut in half.
The Renault came to a stop…!
I remember black…
Then I started to hear…
The only thought that went through my head was, ‘I think I’m dead.’
There was an extraordinary nothingness.
Just black. And silence.
Then I heard a kind of hissing sound. It was the cicadas in the trees.
Then I heard a kind of uuh uuh uuh sound. It was me in the car.
As I gradually came to, I found my head between my legs. There was a hand around my body, pulling me firmly out into the open and leading me gently past the rear of the car. As I looked back, I saw that all the wheels had come off. ‘Christ,’ I thought, ‘I hope I can put all this back together by four o’clock.’ That was the time I’d promised my mum that I’d get her precious car back to her.
The next thing I knew, I was sitting on a big mound of earth and this man was showering my head in water. Then I realised that the water was red. In fact it wasn’t water at all, it was blood. Blood was pouring out of my head.
‘Where’s Char – ?’ I tried to ask.
‘She’s gone,’ said the man, ‘she’s gone somewhere on a bicycle.’
On a bicycle? Charlotte had got out of this mess alive?…
She sure had. The steering wheel had probably saved her. With nothing but a minor concussion, she’d got out of this crumpled heap of a car and cycled home.
Within a few moments – by a miracle of God – a white woman drove by in a car. She saw this black man sitting by the side of the road cradling a young boy’s head in his lap, and she stopped to ask the man directions.
‘Excuse me, sir, have you seen – Oh my God! Oh my God! Let’s get him into the car. Quick, get him into the car!’
The woman drove at breakneck speed to the hospital in Salisbury, and all the time the black man nestled my broken head in his lap. (I never found out what his name was. I wish I had, because he came all the way to the hospital with me and I’ve no idea how he got back home.)
At the hospital, I was asked to sign something.
‘Can’t you see he’s in no condition to sign anything?’ said the white woman.
All I remember is lying on a table with a lot of people working over me. And at some point my mum and dad came to visit, but almost straight away they left.
I later discovered that Charlotte had found her way back to her parents’ house and explained everything to Pete Whaley, who had phoned my parents and told them I’d been in a car crash. When Jock and Daph arrived at the hospital, all they could see were my feet sticking out from under a sheet and all these people working over me. Then they’d driven out into the bush to find Mum’s car. When an hour later they’d reached the wreck and seen all the debris, Daph had instantly burst into tears and wailed, ‘He’s dead. Oh my God, Miles is dead.’
They’d immediately driven back to the hospital and discovered that I was just about alive. And during that awful hour of driving back, Daph had completely and utterly forgiven me for wrecking her brand new, beautiful car. Later, Jock got £10 for the scrap metal.
I stayed in hospital overnight. I had stitches in my head, which had now grown to the size of two heads, even bigger than when Butch Blignaut had decked me. A huge amount of liquid had gathered in my skull, making my eyes close up and my face look like a balloon. It was extraordinary really that my skull had survived.
The next day I was released from hospital, and for the following three weeks I lay at home in bed. Lots of people came to visit me, including Charlotte’s parents.
‘Did you know my daughter ripped her neck in the accident?’ said Charlotte’s dad.
‘Ripped her neck?’ said Jock. ‘Have you seen my son? Have you seen my wife’s car? Don’t tell me your daughter ripped her neck!’
She was fine actually – Charlotte – though I never saw or heard of her again. It was the end of her relationship with Pete Whaley and the rest of us. And it was the end of my blows to the head.
I can’t say it was the end of my flutters in my heart...