King Lear of Suburbia
My father-in-law’s life, Peter let’s say, would have been the perfect subject for a Shakespearian or Greek tragedy.
His father, a solicitor, senior partner in “the only honest practice in the city” was also mayor. His elder brother was killed on his motorcycle returning to Cambridge where he was an undergraduate. Peter had hoped to become a surgeon (he would have been awful) but his father had counted on the elder brother entering the successful family practice with a view to him taking over the business. Consequently, Peter became a solicitor and joined the practice. He married a local lady who died giving birth to a girl with a cleft palate and a hair lip.
Distraught, Peter married the lady who had nursed his former wife through labour. Together they produced three more daughters. A family trust fund was set up for the benefit of all the daughters. Peter spent part of WWII in the Middle East. On returning home he took over the practice, became mayor following his father’s footsteps and eventually, Coroner for that part of the County in which he had lived for most of his life. His work as Coroner brought much satisfaction as his duties allowed him to work off some of his earlier frustrations arising from being denied a career in medicine. At the time, the appointment of coroner was usually for life, a belief he clung to firmly.
Sadly, life at home was falling apart by now. One Christmas, having ostentatiously dropped the present from his wife into the waste paper basket, Peter carved the turkey for everyone except her and left the room to retire to bed in the middle of the afternoon.
After thirty years of this increasingly unhappy marriage Peter announced to his second wife that he was leaving her. He bought a house a few miles away into which he moved with the daughter of one of his clients, a lady of fifty summers. The second wife who, by now, had lost any allure she may once have had was devastated, perhaps because she seemed to thrive on discord in a dysfunctional setting. For some time afterwards she was quite unable to grasp what had happened to her and why.
Peter married for the third time having waited the statutory five years to be free of wife number 2. A solicitor, he arranged for his new marital home to pass to his third wife on his death and to his second daughter on hers. About this time, he was forced to retire as Coroner. No particular reason was given but the news was a shock as it came unexpectedly and in his view, unnecessarily.
Peter, not unreasonably, assumed he would die before his wife as she was ten years his junior. However, sadly and suddenly, she contracts cancer and died.
He, who had probably only been really happy, if not for the first time at least for the longest period of his life, was completely devastated by the lady’s death.
He was even more shocked to receive a notice to quit from his second daughter’s solicitor since, under the terms of the arrangement he had made, the house now belonged to her! Eventually, he was obliged, since he had no intention of moving yet again, to buy the property for the second time from his avaricious daughter.
A solicitor who acts as his own lawyer has a fool for a client!