Not for the first time, Jack has lost control of the family. Back then, three headstrong girls and an errant boy born over a 10-year period made puberty and teenage rebellion a long-drawn-out affair in the household. Back then he withdrew into work, and the 70-mile commute helped keep them at bay until each night he put the key into the front door and wondered what new calamity he would have to face; which of them he’d have to show the strap to as his own father had to him.
Now too he withdraws into work, shutting out the bickering and the sharp-tongued exchanges as he mulls over contracts and development deals that only he has a full grasp of. Now when he tries to intervene with his wife, his offspring, their partners and offspring, it falls on deaf ears. They talk about him as if he too has deaf ears, then place their alcohol-fuelled faces before his and ask “Are you okay dad?”
He isn’t, and amid the strangers of his household there is another who when she isn’t eating his food says “C’mon Jack, let’s check that catheter and see if that’s why you’re ‘Mr Grumpy’ today, shall we? I’m just going to move your chair.”
Not for the first time, Jack has lost control of the family.