The Banker's Niece

Read exclusive extracts from my new novel The Banker's Niece. Click here for Chapter 1.

Tuesday, 19 April 2011


Last night Frog and I were watching the film The Exorcist. Although it came out in 1973 (?), neither of us had seen it before. As I watched the two brave priests tackling the demon that had possessed the girl, I began to feel bad about my criticisms of the Christian Church (see earlier posts).* Many church people do good work, and I have been on the receiving end of some of it myself.
            When Frog and I decided to get married (thirty-three years ago) all hell broke loose on my side of the family. He was not considered suitable. One of the few adults who did support us however was the vicar whom we visited about having the banns read in his church (a different church from the one in which we planned to marry – long story). We didn’t say much but I think he guessed the opposition we were facing. I expected him to be on the side of my parents but he wasn’t. He took us seriously. That was a welcome change for me. As we left he said, ‘Look after each other.’ Those words have stuck in my mind ever since.
            Nearly twenty years later when we lost our baby we went to a special service at Exeter Crematorium for parents who had lost babies, for whatever reason. There were only us and another couple there and all four of us cried all through. Afterwards I spoke to the vicar, trying to tell him something of the guilt and sorrow I felt. I can’t remember what he said but the important thing was that he listened and he was compassionate. He made me feel better.
            Back to the film.
            The possessed girl, especially when she growled and lunged, reminded me of Ellie, and I wondered if the film had been written by a hard-pressed parent (or puppy-owner**).
            They say it’s the owner not the dog that determines a dog’s behaviour but in my experience that’s not entirely true. We’ve had three dogs and they’ve all been completely different from each other. Our last dog, Penny, a rescue lurcher, was an angel by comparison with Ellie. But then she was grown-up when we got her. Maybe Ellie will turn out all right in due course – once we’ve exorcised her demons.

* Frog says I should insert a caveat here - that was fiction and I'm talking about real life. I don't see the problem.
** I don't like the term 'dog-owner'. Dogs are not possessions. But I can't think of another word at the moment. 'Carer' sounds too white coated.

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