I went to my ex-lover’s funeral as his son

When Mark Dowd began a teenage fling, a daring lie kept the true nature of his relationship secret. But when his former boyfriend died, he suddenly found himself in an excruciatingly sticky situation.

My flatmate greeted me with an unusually severe expression. It was 10pm after another long day at work and I slumped in the armchair. “You’d better check the answermachine,” he said. I walked over and pressed the red button. A message from a relative in Manchester. My 65-year-old father was dead.

Several gulps of whisky later, I plucked up the courage to ring home. A familiar voice said: “Are you all right? You don’t half sound queer.” It was my father – still very much in this world. What was going on? Sensing an almighty mess brewing, I quickly finished the call and replayed the message. It was from a man calling himself “uncle” whose first name I didn’t recognise. He had left a number and when the blunt Mancunian tone answered “Ronnie Craddock”, the surname sent my mind spinning back to 1979.

Full text on the Guardian newspaper website

Mark Dowd – a former Quest chair.