As predicted, the weekend with the folks-in-law was a frickin' nightmare. The dad went ballistic when he saw the Quattroporte rolling down the drive. I thought for a moment that he might actually go the full whack and get the shotgun out, but, being British, he put on his fake face and pretended that everything was great between us.
We went into the drawing room where Mom was whacking back the gin like it was going out of style. They knew something terrible was about to happen. I hit them with both barrels.
"Victoria is pregnant and we're getting married." There was no use being British about all of this. I just said it.
There was a long, long pause before Mom started to cry and the dad asked me to leave the room so that they could speak to Victoria. I told them that if they had anything to say to my future wife then they should do so in front of me. The dad asked her if she was all right. He asked it like you'd ask someone who had been drugged and made to join a cult (and I should know about that shit, believe me).
Victoria told them that she was happy and that they should be happy for her, and she started crying. This was not going that well but it had to be done. We finally sat down to one of those interminable British country meals where you have about seven courses of tiny shit that doesn't taste of anything. The maid pouring out the different wines for every course had known Victoria since she was a kid and she was crying too. I checked the three labradors on the beanbag in the corner. Unbelievably, they'd managed to keep their shit together. This was a small bonus.
The Sunday morning and Dad takes me out in his Range Rover up on to the estate. I can see that he's got two shotguns in the back and I start to wonder whether he's going to challenge me to a duel or something. We get right on to the top of this hill, he parks the car and we get out. There's no talking for about five minutes as he gazes down into this long wooded valley. I think maybe he's about to have a stroke, but he finally speaks.
"Cooper, it's no secret that you're not exactly my ideal son-in-law, but facts are facts and, as you are to be the father of my first grandchild, that means we have to sort out our differences. Before you, as far as you can see, is our land and this will come down to Victoria, your child and... you." This was like being stuck in some Thomas Hardy novel. I looked around for the cameras. He could barely speak the words. There were no cameras. I was starting to enjoy this, he was fucked and he knew it.
"I want you to promise me that you'll look after my daughter - that you'll respect her and look after her." Dad started crying again. A man crying while holding a shotgun is not a good look. I loaded mine and fired a shot off just to break the atmosphere. I aimed at some big dumb bird flying above us, not thinking I'd hit it for a moment. I blew the feathered bastard apart. The labradors went racing off to pick it up. That would show Dad, I thought. I could blend into this country scene as well as anyone else.
He went mental. Apparently it was some protected species and, if anyone found out, then he'd lose his gun licence for letting me shoot here. I can't do anything right for this guy. He wants something completely different, some guy called Percy who's probably gay, so that his daughter doesn't actually get boned. Percy would doff his cap to Dad and listen to his dull stories and laugh at the right places. He'd marry Victoria and presumably have two artificial inseminations to get kids. This is the British way and that's why you're all so in-bred and fucked up. I reckon the aristocracy needs a bit of Cooper seed, and guess what? They've got it, like it or not. The weird thing is that Dad would shoot a gay if he saw one on his estate. It would be worse than seeing a rambler. It's a tricky balance being British.
We drove back in silence. Dad was a broken man. He knew that I held all the cards and that he'd have to behave around me from now on if he wanted to get on with Victoria. It felt good to have one of these bastards by the cojones for once. When we got back to the house, Mom was totally drunk and screaming at Victoria. She'd obviously thrown several vases at her as pieces of them were scattered all along the back wall of the study. Victoria grabbed me and told me that we were leaving - now. I didn't need to be asked twice. We grabbed our stuff and got into the Quattroporte. We roared back towards London. If the weekend was anything to go by, then the wedding should be an interesting day.
We got back to London at about 7pm and Victoria was still quite upset. We went straight down to the Wolseley and had a top slap-up meal with champagne and all the trimmings. I saw that Jeremy Clarkson guy from Top Gear and went over to commiserate about his friend who'd had an accident, but he totally blanked me. I always assumed that the "nice bloke" character that he puts out on TV was false - and how right I was!! Still, it didn't matter, because Ben came to join us with some "entertainment" and we all went off to the Groucho and ended up at a dive called Jerry's in Soho that's open until God Knows When and packed with wannabees and nevergonnabees.
It wasn't quite the same as usual. It's weird, but recently I've had this feeling of some kind of clock ticking. I presume it's the arrival of my first child that I'm worrying about. It doesn't actually feel like that. It's something weirder. Maybe the Coop is coming to some sort of crossroads in this road trip that's called my life? Hippie alert!!! Sounds like I've been to yoga too many times. I'm stopping that shit right away. Don't worry - Coop will be back on top where he belongs next week!!
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