I confess that in the circumstances faced by Elliot Spencer’s parents Robert and Melinda I would have had to draw on all my acting skills to put on even an unconvincing regret marrying affair partner of pleasure. When our 27-year-old son and his long-standing girlfriend announced their intention to marry, I felt I had a duty to fake surprise.
In fact, I’d known from almost the first moment I saw them together that they would end up at the altar, judging that they were made for each other and no other outcome was imaginable. As for our other feelings, my wife and I had no need to feign our unqualified joy at the prospect of welcoming Lisa into the family. Pretty, clever, accomplished and sweet-natured, she is everything a loving parent could wish for in a daughter-in-law. Which brings me to a surreal thought that has been haunting me all week. How would I have felt if our son had announced that he would like to present his intended .
Lisa, 32, but the gargantuan, shambling form of our official national treasure, 57-year-old Stephen Fry? In the case of Robert and Melinda Spencer, aged 57 and 52 respectively, this is no mere outlandish fantasy. It is something they’ve actually experienced. For they are the parents of Elliott — 27, like our newlywed son — a stand-up comedian who is to be married to Mr Fry. Of course, it won’t have come as a shock to the Spencers since they must surely have known their son is gay. And I must say they have behaved impeccably, telling the Press what any son would wish his parents to say about his choice of spouse.
It’s great news,’ she said. Now, for all I know, they were expressing the unembellished truth — and if they had any private doubts, they did a good job of keeping them to themselves. But if they genuinely had no such reservations about welcoming Mr Fry as a future son-in-law, all I can suggest is that they are very atypical of our generation. As for myself, I confess that in their circumstances I would have had to draw on all my acting skills to put on even an unconvincing display of pleasure. Certainly, I would have sought reassurance in running through the positives, reminding myself that it’s not the parents’ feelings that matter on these occasions, but only the children’s. After all, if the happy couple love each other, and if it looks like lasting, that must be what counts for most.