If I have seen further than others, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants.
~ Isaac Newton ~
Love of family, and love of friends, love lost, love gained, and love sustained.
‘If Love Were All, Bitter Sweet’ is sectioned into three parts; Bitter, Sweet, and Bittersweet. Each section is dedicated to chronicling the respective relationships triumphs and failures of characters appearing in the Night Boys series.
Beginning in 1954 with ‘Angel of The North’ telling the story of Francis Tenn’s parents, ending with a 2015 interview with Simon Thorsby, ‘If Love Were All, Bitter Sweet’ covers the breadth of the series from the many perspectives of its characters.
Foreword by Andrea Staum
Angel of the North:
Father Francis Hadrian has found himself at a crossroads. He has a lover expecting a child, but a duty to his church although he feels an utter fraud. How can a priest, questioning his faith, and having broken his vows lead his congregation? Does he even want to anymore? The biggest question, however, is whether the Church will let him go.
Two Imaginary Boys:
In 1974, Malachy is living a hand to mouth existence with his boyfriend Mekos. They’re both runaways, trying to make their way in the world. Malachy has to choose between making a better life for himself or staying with Mekos in love and poverty.
Bet She’s Not Your Girlfriend:
Francis Tenn writes a eulogy for Danni, one of his former girlfriends, as he tries to understand the demons that drove her.
A man in the future watches his greatest mistake in his past play out on a YouTube video.
Francis Tenn and Simon Thorsby have a special night of romance ahead of them. Will everything go as planned?
Take a Chance:
From the pages of the journal of Styles Peterson, Styles tells of the night he fell in love.
When Francis Tenn’s childhood friend, Martin Claddic passes away, he finds himself thinking of the past and how without Martin, Francis would never have become friends with Simon.
Forever in Love (An Open Letter to the Love of My Life on His 57th Birthday):
Blake ‘DJ Confusion’ Hannigan-Sixsmithe writes a love letter to Kitto Sixsmithe, his lover and his best friend, on his birthday.
Let Me Kiss You:
Malachy and Mekos reunite in this story set 34 years after Two Imaginary Boys. Will their reunion be long lasting?
Be My Wife:
Simon’s birthday is not going as well as he would like. The only bright spot is his granddaughter Simone and a marriage proposal from his partner O. This brings on memories of another time when Simon proposed marriage to his best friend, Miranda Saunders.
Some Distant Memory:
Told in his comfortable Scouse dialect, Kitto recounts a night of pain, and fear, which ends in his salvation in the arms of his lover Rosolio.
The Nightfall of Rage:
Malachy is going away, but before he does he pays a visit to a very important man, Ronnie Kray, in Broadmoor Hospital.
Christmas is on Thursday but neither Francis nor Christy is quite prepared for the drama happening all around them.
Francis is happily single and playing around. His new lover Lee has other plans however. But can Lee truly love Francis if he knew the truth?
Christy is spending Christmas in the home of his younger sister, Sherry Shaughn-Cooper. Usually, these visits are quality time with loved ones and no trouble. Today he and Sherry face a problem neither can fix easy, and it is breaking their hearts.
In an interview from late December, Simon Thorsby talks about how his life is now, and where he stands on his love of Francis, his love of David Bowie, and why he made the choices he had in the past.
From one of If Love Were All, Bitter Sweet's short stories, 'Disappointed'
The man stuck his head out of his study into the hallway. The lock had clicked on the front door of his Holland Park home. His soon to be ex-wife was leaving for the night. A sensation of great relief washed over him. It always did when she would leave the house. For whatever reasons she left, he no longer wondered nor cared. He was simply happy she was gone. It was as if oxygen returned to the air. The tension of the house evaporated with her away. He knew however, it was temporary and she would be back. She hadn’t packed her bags, of course neither had he. Unable to come to an agreement as to who should keep the home, the two shared the house for the time being.
He closed the door to his study and locked it. He locked himself in so she could not sneak up behind him, so she wouldn’t suddenly appear at his side to destroy his peace of mind. Her histrionic behaviour; the accusations, the paranoid fears, the anger inside her had grown worse over the years. The palpable resentment she displayed, as their marriage-which had been a sham they both agreed to beforehand-failed to deliver the result she wanted, chiselled bit by bit a gap as wide as the Channel between the former couple. That failure, though it had nothing to do with him, she nonetheless placed it squarely on his broad shoulders. Yet she would not leave him in spite of it. Realistically, she couldn’t afford to and they both knew this.
The couple, married for nearly twenty years, had been until recently locked in a struggle over the deteriorating state of their marriage. He regretted his choice as the years began to tick by yearning to be free of the lies of his public life, and lie of the public marriage. However, he had been afraid up to that point for the truth to be revealed and that was where she came in. She could destroy the façade with the right phone call to the right people, but if she did she would lose the financial safety of having a wealthy professional athlete husband with endorsements rolling in. Having only a modest income herself, giving up the wealthy lifestyle she enjoyed because of him-no matter if there was no love- undoubtedly proved more easily said than done for her. Eventually, the struggle had to end it was clear. Now it was simply a matter of how much it would cost.
A cost he would ultimately agree upon as he felt lucky to get out alive.