Car 7

Mrs Louisa Balbrough

Outward appearance

Craggy woman with cropped grey hair. Her trousers are tartan in front, yellow with red polka dots in back. Wistfully reading a yellowed letter.

Inside information

Antiques dealer returning from Camden Passage. Divorced, recently lifted up by a love affair with a tall, craggy man called Peter Wolffe. Her father, an ex-Army officer, recently died, leaving her his letters.

What she is doing or thinking

Reading words written in 1946 from Germany to her mother.

My darling, I'm so proud of you and baby Louisa. The photograph is beautiful. We are still sweeping up the mess made by this war but I will be home soon.

There is one thing darling I never told you. I have another child, a son. His mother asked me to help; she could not stand her husband, who does not know. I've never seen the little fellow, but both of us need to remember, for Louisa's sake, that his name is Peter Wolffe.

Louisa had never experienced anything like meeting Peter. His rangy body, the life etched into his face -- she saw him and thought: "that's the one". Peter said later he felt the same thing.

It's the Siegmund Syndrome -- in the Wagner opera a brother and sister meet for the first time and abandon the law from love. Peter lives simply in East Anglia, selling smoked fish. She wants to live there with him.

Louisa watches dancing people. She thinks: I'm 50; there can be no children, there are no Gods to enrage. She folds the letter away, smiles, and joins the party.

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