* * *
“We were in the middle of lunch when it happened. Lisa had made a salad of ripe tomatoes, olives and artichokes to go with the fish she’d prepared.
Since we’d been on this holiday we’d been eating too many carbohydrates. It was a beautiful peninsular, the weather was fantastic and the apartment was fine, but every day the children had been eating croissants for breakfast, pizza for lunch and ice cream and chocolates in between. Naturally in the evenings we had huge plates of delicious pasta. Pasta alle vongole, pasta con
pesto, pasta with that tomato sauce they make locally.
I’ve no idea what they put in it, but it tastes delicious and garlicky. And let’s not forget the tiramisu that nearly always followed the main course.
Too many carbs! I didn’t want us to get fat.
I’m not certain when the rumpus started. Twelve thirty? One? All I knew is we were having lunch and the
kids were fighting again. It was hot. Quentin had hit Sophia in the face and she was crying and pretending her lip was bleeding. She had only just had her traintrack teeth brace fitted, so naturally she felt a little anxious about her teeth. Now she was upset and Lisa was furious with Quentin, who didn’t care.
Lisa wasn’t having any of it and I could see things were going from bad to worse.
‘She called me a liar,’ Quentin said. ‘She’s the cheat, not me!’
‘It doesn’t mean you had to hit her,’ Lisa shouted. ‘What if you’d broken her brace? Do you know how much they’ve cost us? Do you?’ Quentin had put on one of his lowering looks. The teeth
braces had cost us two thousand pounds, almost as much as this holiday. But you simply have to pay up if you want orthodontic treatment. The health service doesn’t cover that sort of thing. It’s considered
cosmetic, not necessary. Sophia’s teeth didn’t stick out a great deal, but Lisa felt it was important that a girl should feel comfortable about her appearance. And although we could have done without the expense I was inclined to agree. So we paid up and now we were here on this beautiful coast with the sunshine and the bougainvillea and the sea and all the fresh fish you
could wish for. If only the children would stop quarrelling it would be perfect.”
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Roma Tearne, Is a Sri Lankan born artist living and working in Britain. She arrived, with her
parents in this country at the age of ten. She trained as a painter, completing her MA at the Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art, Oxford, was Leverhulme Artist in Residence at the Ashmolean Museum,
Oxford and also at Modern Art Oxford.
Thereafter she was awarded a highly prestigious, three years post-doctoral Arts and Humanities Research Fellowship at Brookes University Oxford. For nearly twenty years, her work as a painter, installation artist, and filmmaker has dealt with the traces of history and memory within public and private spaces.
She has written five novels. Mosquito her first novel was short listed for the Costa Prize, the Kiriamy Prize and the LA Times; Brixton Beach, her third novel, was a TV Book Club pick and won a reader’s award in France.
Her fourth novel The Swimmer was long-listed for the Orange prize 2011 and a film based on the narrative was made by the artist and shown at the Venice Biennale in 2011. Her fifth novel The Road to Urbino was long listed for the Asian Man Booker and a film, also made by Tearne and based on this novel, was shown at the National Gallery, London in June 2012. The Last Pier is her sixth novel.
Read Roma Tearne’s Authors Note.