Standing Order

Life has been so kind to you, Sammy. You don’t understand now, but you will learn. I hope you will learn because it would kill me if you never understood how hard it is for me to ask you for something like this. I am embarrassed, Sam. That I know you will never understand – embarrassment is one of those things you will have prepared for; one of those human things that you can buy out of with the right currency and Lord knows you have enough of that.

It has taken a lot for me to accept that who you are is not a product of how I raised you. When you sit down in the evenings – when your family has gone to bed in their silk bed-sheets and whiskey rolls around your tongue as you notice at the new way in which the maid has started to organise those beautiful designer cushions: you feel grateful – that’s got nothing to do with me. I imagine I wouldn’t even make the list of polite acknowledgements. Or maybe I would – you’re etiquette never ceases to astound me.

I would resent you so much when you were a teenager. I hope you never know how it feels to be undermined by someone who holds the potential to make your dreams. I used to wish you’d hate me. I used to will you to stand up to me, shout at me, tell me that I was a useless hippy pothead. I needed you so badly to lose your temper. But you never did. You just got quieter and quieter – and my instinct was to make the noise to counter-act it, but that was never going to work with you.

I assumed for a long time that you had no friends because of who you were with me. I realise now that that was never the case, was it? You just never told me. Were you scared of what I’d do? Scared that I’d feed them cold baked beans? Although that wouldn’t make sense because you’re never scared.

I need money and I would like you to lend me some.  You will not, I’m sure, be surprised to hear that I have exhausted every other alternative. I am also going to ask you to save me the conversation of asking me what it is for. Or how much I am in debt by. I will pay interest on your money and there’s nothing else that you need to know.

Tell me that I don’t have an interesting face. Say that the colours of the clothes I wear wouldn’t accurately translate into a picture. Or tell me the truth as to why you never once asked to photograph me. I’ve seen some of your collections – you do portraits, mainly, don’t you? Thousands of stained lips and lined faces and grey roots – and are the smiles real? Do you really get them to smile, Sam? (How do you do that?).

Five thousand pounds is what I would like.  One dinner out for you – isn’t it? Starting in April I will pay you back seventy-five pounds a week. I would like you to get back to me on that. I can save the re-payments, if you’d prefer, and give to you all at once, only because I do not know how to set-up a standing order but I can find out from Uncle Sean or somebody.

It’s a lot to ask and I am acknowledging that. But it’s not a lot to give.

My phone number hasn’t changed. You could text me if you like.

If your children know me then send my love.



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