mrs banham, a bag of plums & me

My best friend’s dad, Mr Banham, was called Jim
at least – that’s what everybody called him
the same as me
although really
his name was Stanley
apparently

anyway

sometimes I’d go with their family
on trips to the sea
Hunstanton or Brancaster
in a crappy Ford Anglia
where Stanley
(or Jim
whatever you want to call him)
had this hilarious trick
where he’d kick
a beach ball high in the air
then bounce it once on his hairless head
and drop straight down as if he was dead

He took us to a safari park
wound the window down
passed a bag of plums around
to the baboons on the bonnet
which was scary, if I’m honest
all those leathery hands
reaching through the gap
till a man in a hat
came racing over
in a jungle-themed Range Rover
Wind that window up! he shouted
furious that the rules were flouted

I don’t remember Jim’s wife’s name
but her eyes were level and blue
I heard she died
by suicide
and I thought of that afternoon
the hands of the baboons
flexing, reaching in frantically
for the plums, Mrs Banham, and me

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