An Unsuitable Boy

Dear deiseach, I’m a mature, matronly sort who over the years has nurtured a disparate group of men through their adolescence to middle-age with some success. Some suggest I’m the best at what I do, and the objective statistics seem to agree. It is certainly fair to say that if it were not for my firm but benevolent guidance, most of them would only be fit to stack supermarket shelves – at best. As it is, they earn great wealth under my tutelage, and it gives me tremendous satisfaction to reflect on a job well done.

Recently a particularly gifted young man came to my attention. Talented, focussed, dedicated to bettering himself and ruthless to a fault, he blossomed to become the best of the best, even going so far as to supplant the previous best boy in terms of performance (if not necessarily in popularity; that ruthless streak!)

All seemed well. But then a pretty Latino type sashayed into this life, promising the world wrapped in a big bow with the minimum of effort. It grieved me to see his head turned towards this Spanish strumpet! – forgive my intemperate language, but it was a difficult time. Ultimately I negotiated a smooth passage to the bosom of the viper, in return for a small consideration on my part. Their relationship was consummated and the only way seemed to be up for him as he partied with the beautiful people. Sweet nothings were expressed to the effect that there would always be a place for him here and that he hoped one day to return once he had made his fortune. But why would he fail, and why would he want to return to my increasingly humble abode?

Because all was not well with the Iberian witch. She was preoccupied with those beautiful people, neglecting my young charge, which was not only a loss for him but was detrimental to her well-being too, were she but to see it. In the meantime, the motley crew that had assembled under my auspices secured a most fabulous and unexpected triumph, securing that for which all bar none yearned (not least the Spanish strumpet, who considered such success to be her birthright). Amidst the euphoria at our success, one had to suppress a sliver of Schadenfreude at the young man’s misfortune. Spurned by his fickle mistress, it seemed only a matter of time before he returned with tail tucked between his legs, begging for forgiveness like the Prodigal Dog.

Except the mistress was holding his leash very tightly indeed. She would not release him unless I paid his divorce settlement. The figure was, well, let’s just say it was outrageous. Much more than I had received to further the initial arrangement. It was not to be countenanced. A vulgar North-East type came in flashing the cash (which wasn’t the only thing she was flashing, I hasten to add), but I was confident he would spurn these advances and face down his mistress until she accepted our more modest proposal.

But – and this is the source of my sorrow – I was most astonishingly misled. The ungrateful churl was unwilling to quarrel with his mistress, instead yielding to her demands and hitched his cart to the Geordie Jezebel’s ample backside. Publicly I am putting a brave face on being jilted – again. But privately I am overcome, and I feel I have erred in not trying harder to win his affection. Have I done the right thing?

Anguished, Anfield

Dear Anguished,

The first thing that should be said is the lad has clearly made a calamitous error. A relationship must be purr-ur-ur-ur-fect. Too many people take second best, but you shouldn’t take anything less, to quote Eddie Vedder and Pearl Jam [note to sub-editor: check that reference before publication, something doesn’t quit ring true about it]. To shack up with a Geordie, with their barbaric mode of speech, fondness for brown ale and unerring ability to be complete losers, is a fast track to oblivion. You can indulge your sense of Schadenfreude to your heart’s content on that score, and few will think any the worse of you.

Whether you should have tried harder to secure his affection is another matter. If what you say is true, he would be an asset to any organisation. It is terribly trite to say it, only time will tell whether you have made the right decision in failing to bring him back under your wing. Those you have now will be under immense pressure to perform, and your agents will have to rationalise any failures in the context of what he might have done. Unless you achieve overwhelming success – unlikely, in the current environment – the whataboutery will be endless, and endlessly destructive.

Yet bear in mind that much of the blame for the fissure must lie with him. He must have known that to pay over the odds for his divorce settlement so soon after your involvement in the marriage would have been humiliating. Had you contemplated such a scenario, it would have made you a laughing stock – and worse still, you’d have been seen as a soft touch, constantly bailing out protégées who get themselves into a pickle. No arrangement could be reached with him without the acquiescence of the Spanish, er, party. So short of debasing yourself in such a manner, there is not much you could have done. He could have helped you out by demanding the Spanish relax their demands, but he has put their needs above yours at every stage. If he takes such a cavalier attitude to your situation, perhaps you really are better off without him.

And remember this. Always behave with dignity when he is around. The good times you had with him are not a figment of your imagination, and you shouldn’t stoop to the level of derision so typical of the type he has shacked up with. You’re better than that.

Failing that, you can always break his le . . . (snip! – Rivals legal eagle)