Poor Relation

I am related on my mother’s side to John Bingham, Seventh Earl of Lucan, who was once shortlisted for the role of James Bond. We even look alike. I’ve seen pictures.

On Nov. 7, 1974, he allegedly beat to death his children’s nanny Sandra Rivett and badly injured his ex-wife Veronica Duncan. He then disappeared, never to be found.

I wish this were an isolated example, but it’s not. Mental illness is common on both sides of my family, going back a ways into the past. It’s as if two of my ancestors got together over cocktails, and one said to the other, “So you’re a sociopath and I’m a chronically depressed opium addict? Great news. Marry me! Please say ‘Yes.’”

“Yes my darling, oh, yes! Let’s tie the knot. And when our babies grow up and want to marry, we really ought to make certain the prospective spouses are emotionally disturbed.”

“Capital idea, dearest. At the very least, the affianced ought to have a substance abuse problem. Alcoholism would do nicely, especially if the aforementioned fiancé is prone to violent behavior whilst drunk. You know, wife beating and the like. To be fair, husband beating isn’t out of the question, as we are, I suppose, mutually liberal in our moral compass.”

“Then we’re agreed. Splendid! Let’s drink to it.”