This is the first in an occasional series looking at some of the key characters in my current works - The Orphans, and Knight & Deigh.
Lindisfarne Julian Aldredge; LJ to his staff and colleagues, Lindy to his friends; is an unusual but interesting young man.
Harrison Aldredge, Lindy’s Great-great-grandfather came to East Africa from his native Gateshead in the late 1890s, to work with the British East Africa Company in Zanzibar. He married Muriel, the daughter of another of the managers. They had one son, Harold, Lindy’s Great-grandfather. The family moved to the mainland after WW1, living in the British Embassy, where Harold and his wife worked as domestic servants, and where Lindy’s grandfather was born.
Lindy’s mother was born in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania in 1965 and was, throughout her adolescence and early adulthood, a committed and devoted fan of the folk-rock band Lindisfarne who, like her forbears, hailed from the northeast of England.
In 1984, Lindy’s mother, with her parents, spent the Christmas period in their ancestral stomping grounds in England. His mother was nineteen years old at the time. On Christmas Eve, Lindy’s mother attended a concert in Newcastle City Hall, given by her favourite band. It was following this concert that, in high spirits and probably high on spirits too, she had a “one-nighter” with a flamboyant young Geordie lad who had swept her off her feet. That fling resulted in an unanticipated but, it turned out, far from unwanted pregnancy. Lindy first saw the light of the African sun on 25 September 1985, when he was given the name that had been chosen for him at the time of his conception. His second given name, and his flamboyance – which is not a label that could ever be attached to his mother – were the only things his father ever gave him.
Lindy had an unexceptional childhood. Family money and his mother’s unquestionably good looks meant that, although his mother had brought him up entirely alone (with the assistance of nannies and other domestic help), there was never a shortage of male company. Lindy was thus brought up in an atmosphere that offered everything a boy needed to develop, with the sole exception of a constant and consistent male role-model. Most of his mother’s consorts, few of whom managed a relationship lasting as much as a fortnight, regarded Lindy as cute and sweet, none of them as a developing young man. With that constant affirmation, added to his father’s flamboyance, it was hardly surprising, that his dominant personality traits became cute and sweet or, as his mother so eloquently dubbed it to some of her many short-term paramours, with reference to the date of his conception, ‘as camp as Christmas’.
Lindy left home as soon as the opportunity presented itself. He had been accepted by a university in the south of England, studying business administration and economics, and he jumped at the chance to break away. It was not that he didn’t love his mother, he absolutely adored her. What he was not happy with, was the endless stream of boyfriends; the cackling laughter, the secretive whispers, the surreptitious touching, the rushing off to the bedroom followed by the creaking of bedsprings and the screams of either passion or pain – hard to tell the difference, sometimes – as a succession of men had their way with his mother, or maybe it was the other way around. He knew little about sex, except that it seemed to be a troublesome, noisy, antisocial affair that gave only very short-term relief of whatever primal need drove people to do it. Of course, he had never tried it; never wanted to. He had never seen the point in spoiling a perfectly good friendship by indulging in something that, as far as he could see, served only to turn many erstwhile friends into sworn enemies.
Fundamentally, Lindy was happy with the way his life was moving. At university, his many female friends assumed he was gay, because he never approached any of them in a sexual manner, and was thus a ‘safe’ man to befriend, and even to share confidences with. His male friends assumed he was ‘straight’, for much the same reason. Only he knew.
He interviewed with a multinational import/export business straight from university, and secured employment in their Dar-es-Salaam office. He felt sure that he could have landed a better job; one more suited to his education and abilities; but he found that he liked his boss there, the work was relatively undemanding and the pay more than adequate. As the local company grew, he advanced from clerk to Executive Assistant to the CEO. In real terms, he was practically running the business, while his boss did the high-level wheeling and dealing.