Doctor Abergavenny was my family's general practitioner. He had delivered me, screaming, into the world. He checked for my nana's pulse when she had a heart attack. He could not find it, and we buried her all those years ago. She was only 64. She ran marathons for charity. He was the doctor for the entire village and was part of everyone's life in such an
intimate and inextricable way. The village was built around his house, and his house was the Abergavenny Surgery. The front room was converted into a reception, the living room became Abergavenny's office, the conservatory was for counselling and mental health (apparently the living room cum office was too claustrophobic).
The kitchen became a triage and surgery, used for patching cuts and setting broken bones. Upstairs lived Doctor Abergavenny and his wife, who would occasionally be called down to restrain particularly quarrelsome patients. She was an ex-weightlifter, just missing out on competing in the Olympics.
The woman who did become an Olympian was later found to be using testosterone and was stripped of her titles. Mother said Mrs Abergavenny had always been sour about that. Mrs Abergavenny said Mother was sour that she ran off with my father when I was in lower fifth-form. She became my step-mother when I was sitting my A levels. I didn't meet my predicted grades for a single exam.
Along with Doctor Abergavenny and his wife were four little Abergavennys - Peter, Paul, Luke, and John. John was the youngest and the only girl. She was bullied mercilessly at school for her name and resented everyone for it. Most of all, she resented her parents for giving her a boys name. Mother said Mrs Abergavenny was a religious fanatic. Father said she was
admirably pious. I just used to pull John's hair and quote passages from the bible during lunchtimes. So did everyone else. We used to stand in a circle with poor John in the middle. Sometimes the teacher (I forget her name now) would stop us, but mostly she would leave us to our torturing. I suspect she hated Doctor Abergavenny for not spotting her unborn baby's sickness.
I remember her being pregnant, but never a child. Leaving John to suffer was some sort of sadistic revenge. It didn't help that the Abergavennys were the only immigrants in the village. At any rate, I have never forgiven myself. One day, John left the village and never came back. She may have gone to my father and her mother's wedding but I wouldn't know, I never went myself.
When I was fourteen, I kissed Paul behind the school bike shed. I thought it would be magical and romantic, but instead he punched me and called me a dirty faggot. Later that day Mother took me to Doctor Abergavenny's office to have my nose reset. When we went to reception, Paul was there, nursing his knuckles. They had split on contact with my face. I didn't feel sorry for
him at the time, but I suppose I should have known he wasn't interested in me. He was my best friend. I met my husband, David, while working for a large insurance company. He worked for a competing firm, so I suppose we were destined to be perfect for each other. In the most boring office romance that there could possibly be. I spent
many happy years in the city with him until my mother died and we decided to move back into my old family home. I should have been there for her, but she died alone. On registering David and me back with Doctor Abergavenny, I saw Paul at the receptionist's desk again. He still had the stitch scars from punching me back in secondary school. I had had my nose
straightened some years ago, at quite a considerable cost. Abergavenny ran some general tests, and told me to come back in a month. He didn't ask David. Doctor Abergavenny was around eighty when he diagnosed my cancer. My prostate was swollen, and apparently, my 'numbers were down'. He told me to prepare
myself for the worst, he told me to prepare David for the worst. I did not have anyone else to prepare, as my mother was long gone, and I hadn't spoken to Father since he found out about my sexuality. My step- brothers and sister wouldn't be interested. I assume Paul knows, at least. I hope he comes to my funeral, but I understand if he doesn't.
I do not think I will outlive the good doctor, but after a fair bit of councilling (in Abergavenny's conservatory) I have come to accept that. In a bizarre way, it seems right. He was there at my beginning, I'd like him to be there at my end. ***
Epilogue. 'It was quite a turnout by anyone's standards. Abergavenny's children had only invited a small number of family and friends, but it seemed the whole village had decided to attend. I, not knowing anyone there, hung at the back, minding some of the younger children that could not be trusted to sit still in the pews. Of course, I had to go,
Stan would have wanted me to be there to say his goodbyes to old Abergavenny, and even if he didn't, I had to at least thank him for caring for Stan in his last weeks. You know, it was strange. Stan had always told me how the village had never quite got on with itself. He used to tell me about all the bitter spats and poisonous nothings that would destroy friendships. But it
did not seem like that to me. Everyone was there supporting each other, supporting his children (all of them, even John came after all those years) and for a brief moment, I thought that maybe I might stay there. But it was only for a moment. This was never my place, it was Stanley's. And it was never my house, my shops, or my pub. No, there is so much Little Britain here that is alien that
I could not stay. There is so much of Stan here too, it breaks my heart. I need to move on like he asked me to. So, I am selling the house and moving back to the city. I was hoping that I might see you again, dear brother, so that we might remember our own old days, Yours, David.'