A School of Browsing Manatees

All the Beauforts, Jo’s family, are high-achieving workaholics. They’ve absorbed their father’s attitude. All are piano-playing, cultured polymaths; Oxbridge alumni, consultant doctors, humbly grateful for the life they’ve been given, and resolved to celebrate and exploit it to the full. They will all pursue an outcome with stalwart determination until it is completed. It wouldn’t occur to them to do otherwise.

In contrast, my family are all such lazy, intellectually mediocre slobs, stricken by insecurities, and, in my case, miserably ungrateful for the gift of life, squandering its every opportunity. Sure, there’s been a brain surgeon grandfather, but he was an exception. My other grandfather even made enough money as a mechanic/ engineer to send my father to a minor public school. where, Jo and I suspect, he felt slightly out of place and where he learnt the mild social unease that has carried him through the rest of his life. It probably looked good on his CV, though, at least in those days.

My siblings and I are regressing towards the norm, moving back down the social ladder, earning less than our parents. We’re like primeval sea creatures that have risen to the surface on unexpected warm currents, sniffed the rarefied air and, feeling uncomfortable, are sinking back into the depth. Maybe some sort of deep-sea dugong.

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