A previous visit, at Christmas several years ago, had left me with the unpleasant memory of the worst so far of her habitual goodbye kisses, which had left me in a queasy haze of alcohol and dirt-cheap scent.
No, Aunt Doreen didn't figure at all in my fantasy life.
Ended up having to chuck it away." Another thing I knew about Aunt Doreen: she hated to cook. My parents never had alcohol in the house, even at Christmas. "Well I'm in charge tonight and I'll take full responsibility if you end up drunk and disorderly, all right? Special occasion like this calls for a tipple." Maybe it was just me, but there was something about the way she enunciated that last word, emphasising it and deliberately catching my eye as she did so. Not because the shepherd's pie was poor - my mother's cooking is invariably excellent - but on account of my increasing trepidation. I decided that the best thing to do would be to retreat to my room as soon as possible, pleading homework as my alibi. Aunt Doreen pulled away again and straightened up, arching her back and taking a theatrically deep breath to compose herself, I felt forced to conclude, with sober resignation, that I had now received my birthday present, my special treat, in its entirety, and all the rest would remain firmly in the realm of fantasy.
I'd worked out a strategy of avoidance, aimed at reducing contact with this unwelcome relative to an absolute minimum. For it was as though, with that preternatural vision of hers, she had spotted me there at the window.I would take my evening meal up to my room, pleading a homework backlog. Her antipathy toward Aunt Doreen, as with most of her dislikes, was reluctant, erratic and continually subject to revision. She didn't appear startled, or shocked, or offended. I almost jumped out of my skin when the back door swung open and my mother emerged from the house.Particularly since Aunt Doreen had a disconcerting way of looking at you as though she could see right into your mind and read off all your deepest secrets.She seemed to possess some kind of scary, unsavoury power.She was catching an early-morning flight, and we lived quite close to the airport.
It wasn't my mother's suggestion that Aunt Doreen come down on the train the day before and stay over; characteristically, she had invited herself, phoning up to inform my mother of her imminent arrival. Undeniably, for ordinary people like us back in the early 1970s, in many respects more innocent and less clued-up than today, Aunt Doreen's life did seem glamorous.
"Tell you what, why don't we forget about the cup of tea and just have our dinner. "You could always rely on your mum in the kitchen." Her tone was faintly disparaging, as though, in her book, domestic prowess was scarcely the measure of a woman. If you want my opinion, pet, you've been studying too hard. now you just lay there and have yourself a little rest. I kept my eyes shut, and when I opened one, just for half a second, I found Aunt Doreen's eyeball, startlingly close, staring back at me.
"As for me, well, I did try to whip up an omelette once. Her tongue teased mine, and then began a more aggressive invasion, pushing mine back and, to my great embarrassment, causing my penis to stir and twitch and stiffen.
She drank like a fish, smoked like a chimney and her laugh wasn't merely unladylike, it was downright obscene.
She would invariably inquire whether I had a girlfriend and then relish my embarrassment, laughing as she stared right into my soul.
"Say what else you like about me, but you can't deny I've got a decent pair of tits." Aunt Doreen's words rooted me to the spot. Aunt Doreen's eyes continued to bore into me, and it took an effort to free myself and step back out of sight. I thought of waiting till it was likely that Aunt Doreen had gone to bed, phoning my mother in the meantime so she wouldn't get worried, shinning up the drainpipe and climbing in through my bedroom window, or even sleeping out in the garden shed if necessary. For dinner there was the remainder of yesterday's shepherd's pie, which should easily be sufficient for myself and Aunt Doreen.