Darkness family affair

Darkness family affair as depression and insomnia begin to haunt Janet.

A family affair cover.

This novel by Bernard Preston was last updated on 8th July, 2019.

It all began rather innocuously within a few weeks of Klein Jan’s abduction. The phone rang one night soon after Janet fell asleep, waking her, and she couldn’t go back to sleep for a couple of hours. Within days it became a nightmarish habitual pattern.

She would fall asleep instantly, but wake up shaking and quivering, her thoughts focused on her son, or the rape ordeal. Rage against Jansen would escalate until, on lucky nights, she would fall into an exhausted slumber. Within weeks her whole sleep pattern became disturbed and irregular. Sometimes she would toss and turn until the early hours of the morning and occasionally she swore she hadn’t slept a wink.

Santie tried to comfort her friend as best she could, but within the month, Janet had moved back to her old bedroom. ‘I don’t know why but my jaws are so sore in the morning.’

‘I didn’t want to say anything, but you’ve started grinding your teeth at night.’

‘Really. What’s it sound like?

Darkness family affair

Darkness family affair and now Dr Tomlinson's astonishing recommendation.

‘It’s terrible. Ggggg!’

‘Oh, that’s so awful. I’m just spoiling everything, aren’t I?’

‘No Janet, you are not spoiling anything. You have had two terrible blows, really body-liners. Few people have the misfortune to experience even one. You can’t help it and it’s not your fault.’

‘I wonder why I’m grinding my teeth, though.’

‘I looked it up on the Internet. It’s a stress reaction, and the jaw muscles are, believe it or not, the most powerful muscles in the body. That awful sound comes from one set of molars grinding down on the other.’

There were other aggravations, too, that compounded Janet’s unquiet mind. One in particular was the manner in which Margery Hansen took over the management of the company from Jan Jansen. Margery started giving Janet all the work that involved fragmented lives. Much of it included all the ramifications of divorce, but Margery’s slightly twisted mind also found some delight in asking Janet to defend several rapists. After all, who else in the firm would better know the inside story? Santie said that it was simply spite. Margery resented the two new young upstarts in the firm and their moderate success, when her own practice was declining. She was being forced into management, not because she liked it but because she, more that any of the others, had spare time on her hands.

When Janet was given a hug by the third rapist she successfully defended, the long sleepless nights became longer yet. The distraught faces of the victims joined the ghosts that haunted her during the vigils that characterise the early hours. ‘Margery, please don’t give me any more rape cases. I’ve had enough of them.’

‘But Janet, you are getting a wonderful reputation, and we can’t afford to turn away any business right now. No one else in the firm has the skills you have in defending these men.’

‘That may be so, Margery, but I won’t take on another. All three of those men were guilty as hell. The only reason I got them off was because the police records were so shoddy. The state prosecutors were all men and I had the feeling some of them actually sympathized with the bastards. It makes me sick.’

‘Janet, I’m sorry but you are forgetting a basic tenet of the law. Those men were not guilty. You are making a judgement even before they have appeared in court! I’m sorry, but you are the one most capable of handling these cases.’

‘Margery, may I make it perfectly clear? I will not take on another rape case. I don’t care if there is no other work, I will not defend another man accused of rape.’

‘Well, how about a woman accused of rape?’

Janet glared at her. ‘Don’t be absurd. No woman ever raped a man. No more rape cases, male or female. Do I make myself clear?’

Later that evening, Santie quipped: ‘Take it as a compliment, Janet. We both know that it’s the judge’s job simply to decide which party has the better lawyer. You!’

Matters at the firm took a sharp turn for the worse. Without Jansen’s able leadership, and the media hype, business started to fall off alarmingly. Clients of long standing started taking their business elsewhere.

Sam was the first to suffer. Notwithstanding the bad start to their relationship, Janet found herself warming to the younger woman who made herself a niche somewhere between an acquaintance and a friend.

Over the months the sniping remarks diminished and even the abrasive edges of Sam’s critical and sarcastic personality began to soften.

That was until Jansen flew the coop. She charged into their office one morning, sobbing and waving a letter in the air. She had been retrenched by Marjory Hansen and had three months to find a new job.

‘That is too bad, Sam,’ said Janet, concerned for her newfound friend, but really more worried about the effect it would have on her own work.

Janet was not sure how she would cope without Sam’s secretarial skills in her present state of disquiet.

Sam nodded, blinking back the tears. ‘Our minister preached on Sunday on a verse about all things working out for the best for those who love the Lord, so I must hang onto that, but I really do not know what I will do.’

‘I don’t know what I am going to do without you either, Sam. I have grown to rely on you, and even to like you a bit.’

She winked at the younger woman but Sam was not in the mood for any of Janet’s offbeat humour. She had worked hard at bringing her rambunctious nature and sarcastic tongue more in keeping with her religious belief but it had not been easy. Rowing up stream was the way she described it once to the young attorney.

Nevertheless she appreciated the friendship that had grown between them and the understatement was not entirely lost. Sam was one of the few who understood when Janet burst into tears for no obvious reason.

The only doctor that Janet really trusted was the little gynaecologist. Most of her friends had a ‘I told you so, how could you have been so stupid?’ look in their eyes, but the diminutive Dr Tomlinson was more compassionate.

‘Janet, you really need professional counseling. You have been through some terrible shocks and there is no point in being in denial.’

‘Please, do not send me to that awful woman again. Do you think some pills might help?’

Janet took his advice. The medication kept her in balance. A short holiday with her parents helped but Santie remarked that her emotions seemed to be teetering on a knife-edge.

A new crisis loomed as the day of Sam’s departure approached; Janet started losing weight.

No one noticed at first, not even she herself, but when she fell back quite seriously in training, Santie asked, ‘What’s happening, Janet? I had to wait for you several times this morning,’

‘I am not sure. I just don’t seem to have any energy.’ Janet was miserable. It was not long before Santie realized what the problem was.

‘Sam, I hear Justice is looking for a legal secretary with experience. They have not yet advertised the post but why not go and apply? I will put in a good word for you.’

Sam gave Janet a little smile of appreciation. Neither had been able to cheer the other up and, in any case, Sam had not really noticed that her friend was losing weight.


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She was too preoccupied with her own approaching unemployment. It was only six months since she had bought a modest apartment and she was worried about paying her mortgage.

‘Thanks Janet. Who should I phone?’

Sam got the job. Relieved of her own stress, she finally noticed that Janet’s weight was dipping.

‘What is happening, Janet? Your face is looking so drawn.’

‘I have lost a few kilograms, Sam; not too many,’ she lied. It was in fact approaching 10 kg. ‘Don’t you worry. I will be fine and I am so glad you have got the job. That is wonderful.’

It was not fine. Within a few weeks Santie had to make a most difficult phone call, to someone she detested. When the secretary answered, she said: ‘This is Miss Veenstra. Could I speak to Dr Tomlinson quite urgently about one of his patients? Janet Twycross.’

‘Leave me your number, Miss Veenstra, and I will ask Dr Tomlinson to phone you back.’

The call came within an hour. ‘Is that Miss Veenstra?’

‘Yes, thank you for calling back so soon, Dr Tomlinson.’ Santie forced herself to be civil. ‘I’m very worried about Janet. She took the medication for only a month, and now she’s stopped going to the psychologist. I tried to convince her to keep going but she is as stubborn as a mule. She is just skin and bone.’

‘I’m glad you phoned, Miss Veenstra. Thank you. Have you any ideas in mind?’ Dr Tomlinson was a good doctor and he knew that this was a family issue as much as anything, and getting Santie on his side was important.

‘I really do not know, doctor. I am afraid I’m at a complete loss.’

‘I’ll give her a call this evening, Miss Veenstra. When will be a good time?’

‘Not after eight-thirty. She goes to bed early because she is so exhausted, but she’s not sleeping well either.’

‘Thank you. I will phone this evening. I think it would be a good thing if you told her you have phoned me. Thank you again for calling. I appreciate the fact that we can be civil to each other. If you had left this a few more weeks I might have had to hospitalize her.’

The upshot was an appointment for Janet with a psychiatrist. He carried a lot more clout that the psychologist, and wasn’t deceived by pretty smiles and lame excuses. He made it patently clear to Janet that permanent damage to her body would occur if she continued losing weight. He also changed the medication, putting her on much stronger anti-depressants but it made not an iota of difference. Janet continued to lose weight, her menstrual cycle stopped and the long nights were as disturbed as ever. After three months Santie said to Janet one morning, when it was clear that she wasn’t going to the office: ‘Janet, I’m taking you to Dr Tomlinson again. He seems to be the only one who understands.’ Janet nodded glumly, bursting into tears. Frequent outbursts at the slightest provocation had become a feature of her illness.

The dapper little doctor came into the waiting room to greet them as before. He shook hands with both of them and made a point of inviting Santie into his consulting rooms. ‘Well, what is happening, Janet? Start from our last consultation, please. That was nearly six months ago,’ he said looking at the file. ‘I want to know everything.’

Santie started to answer, but he gave her a curt shake of the head.

‘I’m just so miserable, doctor,’ said Janet. ‘I don’t really understand it but I just can’t stop thinking of my sister – she was a twin you know - and KJ. And then I cry, and I can’t sleep and …and then I think of that night on the beach.’ she stopped. ‘I don’t want to remember these things anymore. Life isn’t worth living.’ She started to sob uncontrollably, her shoulders shaking violently.

‘What about another baby, Janet?’ His words cut right across the desk like a knife. Both women were shocked.

‘Another baby?’

‘Yes, Janet, I am recommending you have another baby. We’ve tried everything else. And failed miserably,’ he added. The two women looked at each other bewildered.

‘We have very carefully screened sperm banks today. You can choose the father – height, colouring, intelligence, and sporting ability. Background. I just give you a form and you choose the man.’ He reached into a drawer and pulled out a pad, and tore off a sheet. ‘There are 200 men here you can choose from. Select your top ten, and then I will give you a detailed analysis of each man. I’m afraid we can’t show you a photograph, though. A word of caution, Janet. I won’t do anything until you pick up to at least 55 kg. You have to put on some weight, and your menstrual cycle must return to normal for at least three months.’ The little doctor was emphatic.

The change in Janet’s life was immediate and dramatic. They went home and Janet ate her first square meal in months. She then asked for ice cream and chocolate sauce, and they celebrated with a van de Hum , something they hadn’t done since the first heady days of their love. They spent the evening poring over the two hundred men and made their choices. They agreed to choose five each.

‘You know what’s so odd, Santie? You were so against my keeping Klein-Jan, but now you’re as enthusiastic as I am about another baby! Why the turnaround?’

Santie shrugged her shoulders. ‘I’m not sure. It is a bit odd I suppose, but the situation is rather different, don’t you think? Klein-Jan was a rape baby!’

‘True, but you really have made a jump-shift in attitude!’ ‘Janet, I suppose I never wanted to admit just how much I grew to love KJ despite his beginnings. I still miss him terribly, too.’

Janet gently stroked her finger up the back of Santie’s hand. ‘Thank you, Sant. I don’t know where I would be without you.’ ‘To be quite honest, Janet, it’s not entirely altruistic either. I saw KJ as a threat to our happiness, my happiness, when you fell pregnant. Nobody was more surprised than I just how much he added to our family.’

‘Life’s full of surprises!’

‘Contradictions, too. Now I find I find myself looking forward to our next baby.’

‘Our baby!’

‘Absolutely. Our baby! You can be the father!’

Dr Tomlinson emailed the details of their top ten as he promised. Santie and Janet spent the next few weeks trying to imagine which of the men they saw fitted the descriptions. There were, of course, no photographs. They laughed until the tears came pouring down their cheeks. Choosing a daddy was fun.

Darkness Family Affair

Hyde Park Corner

Hyde park corner is where Bernard Preston pontificates from his soapbox.

I returned a mainland Chinese made bicycle this week to the shop, and it reinforced a conviction; avoid their products wherever humanly possible.


Well firstly, because they are so often poorly made. Cheap rubbish. Buy something well made, more expensive, and it hurts only once.

Secondly because mainline China is probably the last of the colonial lands. There continued occupation of Tibet is a violation of everything this world stands for. The Brits have left India and Kenya, the Italians have vacated Ethiopia, the Germans Namibia, the Belgiums The Democratic Republic of the Congo. But the Chinese continue to occupy Tibet. It's a blot on the world that we accept the Chinese invasion and occupation, just because they are so powerful.

And thirdly, because the Chinese are winning World War III without firing a shot. Soon the whole world will be in debt to the Chinese, and when they call in their loans... pouff, that will be the end of American, Europe and all those countries that continue to run up huge deficits.

And fourthly, go to almost any African country and you will see that the Chinese occupation has begun. Chinese goods, Chinese people, Chinese shops... they're taking over the world by stealth and it's all built on the paltry salaries they pay their workers.

Mugabe has driven the colonialist whites from Zimbabwe; there are only about 20,000 left. But now there are 60,000 as the new colonialists pour into the country.

I'll pay more, and not buy Chinese, do my bit for King and Country. Join me. Or your grandchildren will have Chinese masters. Perhaps your children.

Yes, it's easier said than done, I know. This Apple Mac that I'm typing on was made in China.

There's a lot of darkness Family Affair in China; rest of the world too.

Nutrition Corner

Bernard Preston is a self-confessed greenie; many would call him a fanatic as he endeavours to eat ten coloured foods today, as many as possible fresh from his organic garden, free from chemicals.

Eat these kinds of food and you may be spared Darkness Family Affair.

Mackerel recipes

Mackerel recipes and a salad.

In our obese Western world Fats and Fatty Acids get bad press, but you can't live without them. The largest ingredient of your brain is fat, and all your nerves are coated with a fatty myelin sheath. Lose that sheath and the nerve won't conduct.

In fact, research is now suggesting that the terrible neurological diseases like Motor neuron disease (Lou Gehrig's disease) are strongly associated with a HIGH CARB / LOW FAT diet.

However your nerves need the right kinds of fats. Make sure the majority of the fat in your diet comes from Fish (Omega 3 especially for example in these Mackerel Recipes) and the fatty fruits, the Olive and Avocado. Nuts, especially the Walnut are high in Omega 3, as is freshly cracked Linseed, and by growing butternut squash you can also increase the healthy fat in your diet.They are what we call phytochemical foods; full of those substances that give food it's colour, smell and taste. They make our foods simply delicious.

It's complex biochemistry but food scientists are now totally in agreement that the "Trans fats" found in many margarines are very bad for us. In addition, keeping the so-called MUFA / PUFA ratio close to 1 is also very important diet. The Western diet is highly directed to seed oils (PUFAs) and animal fats. Recommendations: Absolutely avoid hard margarines (read the labels, looking for the presence of trans fats), not too much butter, not too much Sunflower oil, and more Olive oil, avocado and fatty fish.

What has all this to do with Bernard Preston's A Family Affair? Nothing, I fear.

To the next chapter: Med 24

Bernard Preston's breakfast

A smoothie for breakfast? Four coloured foods already. Add to that Eggs Hilton and you're home and dry.

The basic ingredients of a breakfast smoothie.

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