manager. By then, their marriage was in a terrible place, but she had made her vows and wanted to stick to them.
Thirty-three years of marriage ended over a lunch when Dad told Mum, then 57, that he’d fallen for a Polish masseuse 20 years his junior. Dad had taken out huge loans behind her back to fund his businesses so Mum found herself penniless. They had to sell their house and she moved into the spare room of my tiny two-bedroom apartment for six months.
Having spent a few years working in PR, I had just launched Killing Kittens after I’d helped a guy organise a sex party on his estate. I’d seen how nervous a lot of the female guests were and wanted to create something where girls would have the power.
Everything I was doing was about looking after other women and helping them find themselves.
Mum was no exception to that. I wanted her to finally be herself – to know what an amazing person she was but had been unable to see because she’d been under Dad’s control.
I bought her a bike, new trainers and an iPod that I loaded up with tunes and told her she wasn’t allowed to wallow – she had to get out. I told her, ‘Do not go looking for a man. You need to gather women around you and just get to like yourself.’ We became best mates.
I would borrow her car to take things to Killing Kittens parties.
Once she opened her boot and boxes fell out, spilling their contents everywhere. An elderly gentleman helped pick up what he thought were wrapped after-dinner mints. Mum suddenly realised that they were condoms, but was too embarrassed to stop him filling his pockets with ‘mints’ to eat later.
Dad was very disapproving of Killing Kittens but Mum understood why I was doing it. Her worry was how people would treat me. She heard one of my uncles telling my cousins not to go near me because I was a bad influence and had to defend me.
Three years after the divorce, my brother and I signed her up to online dating. It was a crazy time. She was so busy with work as well as constantly rushing off to see her parents who were going downhill with dementia – Nanny would be found wandering around the local village in her nightie. At the same time, Mum was going on disastrous dates. But it was through online dating she met her partner,
Nick. I was beyond happy when she told me, ‘I’ve found my Mr Darcy.’
Now she’s retired and she and Nick are having a whale of a time. She’s written a book about her experiences, which has been hugely therapeutic for her, though I haven’t been allowed to read it yet.
It’s been wonderful to see Mum realise that she is worthy of love and friendship, and that finding herself single in her 50s wasn’t the end – it was the beginning of the happiest time of her life.
ROOMMATES EMMA AND MALY, NEW YEAR’S EVE 2014 AND, ABOVE LEFT, IN BERLIN, 1991