When mum and I reach her house, she asks me to unpack the shopping bags while she gets something from upstairs. I inspect the content of her fridge and notice that she's put cling film over the plate of cauliflower cheese that I didn't finish yesterday. I wonder why – it wasn't that great. The bottle of wine that was still half full when I left is nowhere to be seen. For some reason, I check the bin and find the box of Magnum Minis that I'd brought as a treat. She catches me with the box in my hands.
There's an awkward silence as we stare at each other. I turn my gaze to the content of the box to find that it's not empty – there are four melted ice creams in there – and put it back in the bin.
“I've got a present for you,” she says. “I should have done this long ago, but it wasn't finished yet. As a matter of fact, I think I've got to add one more line.”
She opens a ring binder to the last page, licks her ballpoint and writes a short message. Then she hands the binder to me and explains that over the last couple of years, she's collected random facts, quotes and other fragments of wisdom for me.
“One at the top of each page. But there's a pack of blank sheets to go with it, so you can insert as many as you like between the headed pages.”
“What's it for?”
“It's like a diary,” she says, “or you can use it to write letters to me, your father or even Elaine. Letters that you don't have to send. To clear your head.”
I breath in sharply and squint like a stoner.
“Sometimes it helps to write down how you feel,” she says. “Sometimes it works better than talking to other people. Because you don't have to worry that you might hurt them.”
“You mean you don't ever want to have a meaningful conversation with me again?”
“I just think it's good for you if you can straighten yourself out on your own. It's helped me a lot, you know. A lot more than therapy.”
Technically, this is cheating. All throughout my secondary school and college, we've separately been seeing the same therapist. When I changed primary schools, social services got involved and they decided that I needed counselling. There's no denying that I was a difficult child, and I told my mother that I would only go if she did too because she needed it as much as I did.
I accept the album and start flicking through it. By the looks of things, she's cut bits out of magazines and letters. On the first page, she has written “The Job Centre is never greener on the other side.” with a fountain pen. Trust mum to give me a diary and use it to force her opinions upon me. I want to make a remark about it, but she puts her hand on mine and says: “Don't read them all at once. Deal with them when it's their turn, let them inspire you when you try to express your feelings.”
-----Go to the opening scene of Trophy.