In real terms, the happy time our sister spent with Jim Perrin was not long, since that first meeting on the 29th October in 2002. Jac and he didn’t live together during the first few months, until he moved to her house and had the caravan delivered. By September 2003, as he himself wrote to her later, ‘things had begun to go wrong’. Even so he sold his house and accomplished the move. They had not shared their living accommodation for any significant length of time or been in continuous contact: and yet he had the nerve to write, after she died: ‘Jacquetta — my lover, wife and friend of forty years’! (ref. p.14 West) — a truly outstanding example of Jim Perrin’s utterly shameless dissimulation: the lies this man tells are extraordinary.
Early in the relationship he had written reams of letters to her, thick packages would arrive at her home virtually daily; she wondered — to us — how he had the time to write them in view of all his literary commitments, and she found it a chore to read them. We have them now and, as we will show, they ooze malice, pretentiousness and the will to dominate.
When he moved there it was to be a new beginning and it was in this spirit that he tackled the changes he made. Many pieces of her furniture were removed. Beds, sofa and armchairs were taken to the tip or even burnt. He replaced them with those that he brought from his former house. Her books and family bric-a-brac were relegated to the barn and some new carpet was laid. This was truly the ‘new broom sweeping clean’ as Jim Perrin took control of her home.
However: he had not reckoned with her family nor her love for them. Nor had he understood the importance of the many friendships in her life. ‘When you began to re-engage with your former acquaintances [!] and with your family [!], things started to go wrong’, he wrote…
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If it is thought we are being hard on Jim Perrin and have attempted to belittle the time he spent with our sister we would say that when their relationship began we all believed him to be the kind and gentle and honourable man he presented himself to be (not knowing any details of his past life or emotional history). We were happy for our sister, and contrary to the impressions he has subsequently given — in West for example — we were entirely welcoming and accepting. As his true nature unfolded it was more difficult, as she herself struggled with her new-found knowledge, but we were supportive and in no way made things difficult for him.
Her children of course came and went with all the insouciance of happy and confident youngsters. She had given them this confidence by the strong security of her love, and they continued with their patterns of life, in their own home as usual; indeed why should they not? However, great exception was taken: small irritations rankled to the point of anger. Jim Perrin could not accept the fact that Jac was not ‘his’ to control, as he demanded her allegiance — doubtless he would think, always so sure HE knew best, she should acquiesce…
Diatribes were written to her on the subject of her children. An email was sent to her sons. Four densely typed pages, outlining their many shortcomings and forcefully criticising them, with suggestions as to their future ‘right behaviour’. This was a letter written to them to put them in their place — and to establish himself as ‘top dog’. They ‘were very young’ (teenagers actually) and he took too much upon himself; it was a grave error of judgment. They loved and were loved by their mother and when they showed her this email she was furiously angry. She went through it with them, each item, each accusation, reassuring them and denying the power of his words to hurt them.
She took Jim Perrin to task and showed him her distaste; that he should feel he had ‘the right’ to behave so high-handedly she said, was inappropriate and unforgiveable. It was a self-justifying and in parts a wicked outpouring of his resentment of them, wrapped in the pretence of amiability; and he signed it ‘the wicked stepfather’. A particularly poor joke in the circumstances.