The very last time I saw my mother was when she called me in to her Victorian writing room to tell me that she was getting remarried — and cutting me out of her will, in that order. I was unmoved by either announcement, as she’d been tinkering with her will for so long, it’d become the sole object of her creative expression & frustrations, and by that time the reading of it would be insufferable, longer than the Ring Cycle.
Every person she’d ever known in her life might’ve been included at one stage, but it was only a matter of time before whatever pittance she intended to bequeath them was reduced, retracted and dissolved if not altogether expunged. Otherwise it was amended to high hell with an untold number of clauses and conditions, so that finding your name somewhere amidst that impossible pile of papers would be like tracing your family tree all the way back through the Dark Ages to discover the first ancestor who ever slept with his sister and fucked it all up for the rest of you.
If nothing else, I looked forward to bequeathing the Last Will & Testimony itself to the University of Texas, so that some poor scholar might spend the rest of their isolation in that intellectual wilderness piecing together an authoritative version from the numerous partial drafts, corrected copies, cheap translations and bilingual editions she’d scattered across the face of the earth since time immemorial.
But now in one foul swoop she’d done away with the lot of it — having, I suppose, finally had the last word with all of her enemies, and finding the majority had passed away years before her. There was apparently only one beneficiary left to deal with other than myself, and that was Johannes, who she’d promised to make the Director of her museum, which she was (conditionally) leaving as a gift to the People of Victoria. It would be called the Lady Diana Shitsville Collection (‘Diana’ and ‘Shitsville’ being the two names she’d decided to stick with, even though they were both fake: she was born Judy; she hadn’t been a Shitsville since my parents divorced).
The Diana Shitsville Collection, I might add, was the most bizarre collection of Georgian & Regency pottery, porcelain and other chinky crap, absolutely niche, and of no cultural value or even interest to anyone outside of a very rarefied circle of sycophants and cocksuckers, specifically Johannes and Tom, who revelled in drinking their Earl Grey out of Staffordshire bone china hand-painted with portraits of Lord Wellington & Lady Hamilton (from life, they say). Perhaps Mother also enjoyed drinking from the heads of people who were once close personal friends.
I will tell you now that one afternoon when I was about 14 years old, I was resting my innocent elbow along the mantel in the writing room when I knocked a tiny vase onto the floor whereupon it smashed in the grate and approximately 10,000 buckeroos disappeared, as they say, down the hole. Subsequently I developed a terrific ability to dispose of broken glass and pottery very quickly and without leaving a winking shard. By chance that same afternoon I also discovered the advantages of taking the brandy bottle into the Sarcophagus & sealing myself in, so it was splendidly dark & completely soundproof.