I’m one of three kids. I have two sisters. One older and one younger. Barbara is the eldest and now lives in Australia with her husband Ray. She’d always hated Living in London and couldn’t wait to get away. Lesley is the youngest and lives in Nottingham with her partner Steve. They moved there from Walthamstow eight ago when Steve’s company relocated. No way was I going to tell them about Bobby Nolan. Barbara was like me and I was confident she wouldn’t be too fazed about Dad’s affair, but Lesley was a hot head. She’d go ballistic. I didn’t want it to taint their memory of dad.
I sat on the bed staring at the address on the piece of paper. 32a Belmont Road, Chelmsford. Underneath, Jack had written “above the betting shop”. Below that was the name of Bobby’s supervisor. Stephen Wilkes.
It suddenly occurred to me that I’d forgotten to ask Ginny one very important question. I took my mobile off the bedroom table and scrolled down to find Ginny’s home number. I dialled. She answered.
I smiled. Just like Dad she answered her phone by repeating the last four digits of her own number.
“Hi Ginny, it’s Tommy. You okay?”
I could hear the excitement in her voice.
“I’m fine thank you Tommy. Are you calling about Bobby? Is there any news?”
“Not yet Ginny. It’ll take a few days before I get anything. But there was something I forgot to ask you yesterday. Did Bobby know that my dad had another family?”
She didn’t pause or take time to think she answered quickly.
“Your dad told him when he was twenty three. He sat him down and told him everything. “
I was taken aback.
Once again she didn’t take any time to think it through.
“Yes, all about your mum and you and the two girls. Everything.”
Now I was really intrigued.
“And…how did he take it?”
I could hear her voice begin to tremble.
“Badly Tommy. He was never the same after that day. He changed. He was always angry. Started hanging around with the wrong crowd and getting into trouble. He moved out a few months later.”
“Where did he go?”
“He moved in with one of his friends. Only came back to see me about once a month. If your dad was here he wouldn’t stay long. Broke your dads heart it did. I can’t remember the amount of times he said he was sorry but Bobby wouldn’t listen. Three years later Bobby went to prison and your dad had his heart attack.”
I had dates and times flashing through my mind. Dad would have told Bobby the truth in 2003 that was the same year that he turned seventy. That was also the year that he started taking antidepressants. Mum confided in me one day, she said that he seemed “down” all the time. She made him go to the doctors and they gave him some pills. I always thought it was because of his age. Three score and ten was always thought to be the families allotted time, anything more was a bonus. Now I realised it was because of Bobby Nolan. I had a few more questions that needed answers.
“Ginny, help me with something. How did dad keep it a secret from Bobby for so long? How on earth did he explain the fact that he was never there?”
I heard her sigh.
“We told Bobby that your dad was away a lot because of his long distance driving. Which was true. We saw him twice a week usually, sometimes more if he could get away. But…he would phone Bobby every night to say goodnight before he went to bed. He never missed a day.”
I started to imagine just how much stress dad must have been under. No wonder his heart gave out. I heard Sandra call my name. It was time to end the conversation with Ginny.
“Thanks Ginny. It’s a shame it couldn’t have ended better. I’ll give you another call when I get more information. Take care.”
We said our goodbyes and I put the phone down. I opened the windows in the spare bedroom and breathed in some fresh crisp air. I was beginning to change my opinion of Bobby Nolan. Here was a kid who’d suddenly discovered his whole life was a lie. His parents weren’t the people he thought they were and his dad was most definitely someone else. No wonder he was angry. I thought about how I might have reacted in the same circumstances. Confused? Angry? Violent? Probably all three.
One thing was for sure. I had to meet up with Bobby Nolan and have a conversation.