Family and friends gather for a matriarch’s 80th birthday celebration

January 20, 2011 at 2:58 am (Fiction, Short Story) (, )

The feast was set and the guests and relations had met to celebrate Claire de Witt’s 80th birthday.

On a sunny first of January in suburban Sydney this occasion got off to a lively start in the house of Claire’s daughter and son-in-law, Margaret and Konrad, they were known for the lavishness of their hospitality, and the spread they provided on this occasion rendered most of the adults inebriated shortly after their arrival.

A friend of Margaret’s, a divorcee in her forties, arrived with a partner, and was well under the weather on French Champagne shortly after. In her inebriated state she began flirting with the male guests. Her partner created a bit of a stir by announcing after each visit he made to the lavatory that he had been pointing Percy at the porcelain. The host and Claire’s eldest son were seen at various times in the company of the divorcee. Towards the end of the evening ‘Percy’ became intensely jealous of the divorcee’s behaviour and wanted to fight a number of the males, he even threatened Margaret.

The food and drink were going at a great rate with numerous grandchildren running about, and largely unsupervised. Music, dancing and swimming all created an atmosphere more akin to a splurge in Ancient Rome than to middle class suburban Sydney.

A fly on the wall would wonder what Claire de Witt thought of it all – the near adulterous liaisons and even worst still, the sexual and physical abuse of a little five-year-old by a teenage boy.

There were a few poor and inarticulate speeches given supposedly in praise of Claire’s eighty years of life and achievement. Margaret had to leave the proceedings early to drive a Melbourne guest to the airport and upon returning she was threatened by ‘Percy’.

You couldn’t really say that a good time was had by all, not at least in the moral sense, but perhaps there were some who attended felt that the event honoured Claire.

Claire’s long deceased husband, an admirable man and a devout Catholic in life would have been outraged by the whole event and absolutely appalled by the abuse of his grandchild.

As the Bard said: “ Men’s evil manners live in brass…”



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