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


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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