I caught up with Karen this week, she had just dropped her youngest son off at judo and we met over a small glass of wine ….
Question: Karen, tell us about yourself.
Answer: Well, I’m a woman, a wife, a mother of three and I work in the cop shop. I’m not a cop, I hasten to add. Well, not anymore.
Q: How well do you know Marcus Elliot?
A: Probably better than anyone else, certainly longer. Did you know we met during training? He was an odd one then. But, to be fair we both were, we were older than everyone else. Obviously we sort of banded together. It was a laugh, him and me against the youngsters. We weren’t really that old, mid thirties, but it’s all relative, isn’t it? Some of them were barely out of nappies. She laughs.
Q: What about your favourite instructor?
A: Oh, you mean, ‘you’re a star,’ he always made us laugh, constantly praising everyone no matter how useless they were, calling them a star. To be honest I can hardly remember his name and I don’t think I would recognise him now; but I doubt he’d recognise me either. She laughs. I bet he’d know Marcus though, well, maybe not now he’s had his makeover. She laughs again. You know he’s actually older than me, only a couple of years, we have the same birthday. He makes me sick. I don’t know what his secret is.
Q: A portrait in the attic?
A: Something like that. She shakes her head.
Q: Are you happy for him now he’s with Hannah?
A: Of course I am. I’m happily married myself so naturally I want the same for everyone, Marcus included. It was all a bit sudden, but having met Hannah I can understand why he is so besotted with her. She’s quite quiet though, which, I suppose he is really. Though with him it’s often as though he just can’t be bothered to speak to you. You can see it all going on behind those eyes – have you noticed how green his eyes are? And Hannah’s are the same. She’s a gentle soul, I think.
Q: You don’t think Marcus is a gentle soul then?
A: Honestly, I don’t know what he is. He’s my friend, we’ve know each other for years – I did think we might have a fling when we first met – but I wouldn’t say I know him really well, I don’t think anyone knows him really well. You know that saying about wearing your heart on your sleeve; well he keeps his firmly buried deep inside his armour.
Q: But he’s had plenty of girlfriends over the years.
A: Yes. And most of them moved themselves into his flat, although he says he’s never invited any of them, can you believe that? I don’t. But they all left in the end when he wouldn’t commit – that’s what I mean – I thought he had a heart of stone. Seems I was wrong. He’s changed a lot since he met Hannah and I don’t just mean physically – but have you seen him. He looks amazing, I mean he was always tall, but he was skinny, obsessed, really obsessed, with running – that wrecked a lot of his relationships – but now he’s all muscled up. Well… she shakes her head and smiles. I don’t think he runs anymore either.
Q: Have you forgiven Marcus yet for abandoning you at the O2 when you went to see Magnifico together?
A: I think the least said about that the better. I was very angry with him. I’ve got over it now.
Q: You helped arrange the wedding – did you enjoy it?
A: I have to admit that when he asked me to arrange the wedding in secret I wasn’t happy. I don’t think it’s right to spring someone’s wedding on them. Fortunately I couldn’t do it anyway; Hannah had to sign the forms and so on, so they had to do it together. I just found out how. I didn’t think they’d go through with it, I didn’t really understand why he was so determined, I just thought once he got over his injuries – she sighs – he’d not be too bothered.
Q: Do you think he gets injured a lot?
A: She shudders. Bullets, knives and now cricket bats, they always find him. He is a cat with nine lives, but I don’t know how many he’s used up. He saved my life, I expect you know that. I really thought no one would come out of that alive. We were lured to that estate by that nut-job with an arsenal in his house. I still don’t know how we survived. That was entirely down to Marcus, I swear we flew through the air to avoid the bullets. Though Marcus got hit in the shoulder – it would have been my head otherwise.
Q: Is it true that Marcus killed that ‘nut-job’ with his bare hands
A: Yes. It was him or us. I don’t see how else it could have ended. She shudders again.I’d rather not think about it. Next question please?
Q: Changing the subject, did you enjoy Marcus and Hannah’s wedding?
A: It was amazing. When he said he wanted a quick registry office wedding and I found out the reception would be in the café afterwards, I thought, oh no. It sounded so tacky. But it was amazing. That café, I’ve been in there a few times for lunch, it’s a proper old fashioned place like my gran used to take me to when I was a kid. But it was, well, it was magic. The whole wedding was magic. We were all in period costume – 1920s I think. And that café done out in period too. It was strange because we went in the back way, via the kitchen door, my heart sunk. But how wrong was I? And Hannah’s family were there, they were interesting, but then we discover that Marcus has a father who is alive – that was a shocker; he’s just like him too. It was the best wedding I’ve ever been too, no alcohol too! I cried when Marcus said his vows, I’ve never heard him say anything like that – death defying love – couldn’t believe it. She sighs and smiles. And what a coup, getting Revel there, only the top band of the moment. You should have seen Nirpal’s face when I told him, they are his favourite band, he’s paid a fortune to see them – they were at Marcus’ wedding. Funny.
Q: You seem to get on well with Hannah.
A: Yes, we got to know each other quite well when Marcus was in hospital – he nearly died on the operating table you know – she’s a lovely girl. When I first saw her I thought how very young she was, twenty-five or so, I would guess. I thought, oh no, he’s turned into a child-catcher; he’s nearly twice that age, you know. But then he stood next to her and they just fitted together, just looked perfect. He didn’t look like a dirty old man. Later, I think Hannah told me she is older that she looks – she shakes her head – I can’t remember exactly what she said.
Q: Do you think you’ll see much of him now’s he’s moved away.
A: I don’t know. I have got my own family, you know. My life doesn’t revolve around Marcus, even if he thinks it does. Anyway I need to go now, I’m on a schedule, busy woman and all that.
I still haven’t caught up with Marcus Elliot but hope to this week, so will ask those further questions.