The Jungle Book and Loyalty
Updated: Nov 14, 2022
You reasses things, don’t you?
Here I was thinking we weren’t smart enough. But actually we did OK. When we got together - in the first day or two, Terry and I took a long walk along The Thames at Pangbourne - his Thames. We spent quite a lot of time talking about the peerless nature of the Sherman/Gylkison songs, from The Jungle Book. We never stopped talking about those beauties, in our 16 years together.
But, Terry also set about telling me everything about his life, in fine, bruising risky, revelatory detail: women, family, terrors, mistakes, monsters, joys. All the shadowy corners.
It was the kind of conversation I welcome. I can't find my way around any other type. But I felt at the time it must have taken courage, for a shy, slightly inhibited man. I'm sure it did.
He kept having that conversation with me for more than 10 years afterwards. He was smart. It was a conversation he'd wanted to have with someone for years because he craved what it bought him - to really be known and understood. And to win someone's unshakeable loyalty. That was the natural bargain we struck in those early days. And I didn’t even realise we were doing it. He did. He made me his biggest defender and champion by trusting me entirely. It makes me realise too, how lucky I have been in my life. I haven't craved loyalty because it has always been there, at my right hand. It is a given in my rowdy, dented, noisy family. I craved other things. By some miraculous accident Terry gave me those things instead.
We had our issues over the years. But you could drop a nuclear bomb into our house and it wouldn’t put a dent in the fact that he was in my corner and I was in his, without any questions and without any discussion. There were bombs. We got to test it, often.