Tuesday, 14 February 2006

Mrs Smithfield

The Smithfield family are the envy of their neighbours and friends. There are five offspring, all good-looking and ‘gifted’ in one way or another, and long-married parents who still send each other valentine cards. Susannah Smithfield, the mother, runs the household with faultless organisation. No medical appointment is ever missed, no dry-cleaning abandoned and there is never a gap in the supply of teabags, bread, or shampoo. Her system of automatic replacement even extends to the household pets. When one of the animals exhausts its natural span, she buys a new puppy or kitten a few days later. This is not a sign of heartlessness, it’s the opposite: a desire to fix everything, even sorrow. In years to come, she will look back on this time and wish that she had paused to notice what was happening to her eldest boy.

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