How much do we ever really know somebody? I always thought that I knew all there was to know about Big Man and his family. If not all, then after nearly 30 years together just about anything of interest worth knowing. He isn't always the most straightforward of people, but then at other times he is right down the middle, no messing and all business.
This evening we were watching a report on our local news about a motorcycle rally in Margate when Big Man turned to me and said 'Patsy and Nanny (his dad and late mum) used to ride a Norton motorbike y'know'. 'No, I didn't know that' says I. 'Did she go in a sidecar?' 'No, just on the back'.
I digested this for a bit then he said 'Patsy was a pillion passenger in a motorbike accident when the driver was killed'.
'O my God!' I said. 'What happened? Was he hurt?'. I am highly interested in tales of others' misfortunes, as you know.
'Mmmm...don't know.' He carried on watching the weather report. After a minute he said thoughtfully 'I think he broke his arm'.
At times like this he is at his most 'Dave-from-the Royle-Family'-like.
I thought of all the times since I've known him that we have talked about motorbikes (quite a few considering we don't have one and don't know anyone who has one) and he has never mentioned Patsy's near-death experiences. We often talk about those in this family - one or the other of us seem to have them on a weekly basis; my very worse one was when I had a terrible panic attack alone in Sainsbury's car park, ended up wetting myself and had to get the children to help me from the car, weeping copiously (me, not them - they're used to me) after I had called them on my mobile from the driveway. But back to the motorbike story. Big Man has never once told me about that accident...what's more annoying in a way is that he piqued my interest and then didn't know anything. Let's face it, I can hardly say to Patsy the next time I see him 'tell all about your motorbike accident!'. I am nothing if not tactful.
Finding out about this hitherto-unknown motorbiking past does explain one facet of my MIL's character. Her favourite songs were always those that ended up with someone being killed, usually on....a motorbike! Leader of the Pack by the Shangri-La's (look out, look out, look out, LOOK OUT!!!!); Terry by Twinkle (please wait at the gates of heaven for me, Teee-rrryyyyy); Tell Laura I Love Her by Ricky Valance (tell Laura not to cry, my love for her will never die!); Teen Angel by Mark Dinning (I'll never kiss your lips again, they buried you today) and Ebony Eyes by the Everly Brothers ("Would those having relatives or friends on flight number 1203 please report to the chapel across the street at once"). Okay, okay, they're not ALL motorbike-related but you could see the way her mind was working. In fact her most favoured of all songs were the execrable 'Seasons In The Sun' and 'Honey'. Bless.
What I've learned today though is that although you can never really know somebody, no matter how long you're with them, when you do find a little something out it can shed a light on other things too.