It's Friday. But I can't seem to write a shopping list. 

I only need a few things. 

But my head's a muddle. I can't think straight.


Mrs Benjee will be here soon.  I'll ask her.


Mrs Benjee is what I call a really nice person.

Don't get me wrong.  I don't mean that unkindly.

I mean she really is nice - truly nice, from the heart, nice.

Isn't it awful how I apologise for saying somebody's nice? How does a good word like "nice" get turned inside out and come to mean the opposite?


What else should I say except nice?  How about "Mrs Benjee is a kind, good, thoughtful, person"? Doesn't sound the same, does it?


Anyway.  How do I know she's good? 

She may be very, very bad. 

She could have murdered her entire family, but that wouldn't stop her from being one of the nicest people I know.


She's good in a crisis too.

I don't know what I would have done without Mrs Benjee the day I found George.

I was quite useless.  I went to pieces. 

It was the shock.


As soon as I went into the kitchen I knew something was wrong, because there was no list on the table.

Such a little thing. 

But it never happened before.  George always left his shopping list on the table for me on a Friday.


Freddie - that's our brother - he blames himself for not calling round more often. 

That's a laugh!

I told him it wouldn't have made any difference. 

It would have made it worse actually, but I didn't say that.

Freddie never understood George. Well, he wouldn't, would he? 


Freddie was born efficient.  You know the type.  Doesn't need a list. Zooms around a shop in two minutes flat.  Then leaves with exactly what he wants - no more, no less.  Totally single-minded.  I swear he has some sort of laser vision.  He sees his destination and only his destination and nothing but his destination - so help the rest of us.


George was different.  He was gentle and always in a dream.

His head was full of notions. His mind scattered in all directions. 

He wrote lists to try to control his life.

Actually, I don't see anything wrong with that.

I do lists myself.


It wasn't until I was clearing out his clothes and things that I realised how much lists had ruled his life.  I found them all over the house.


Mrs Benjee helped me with the funeral and the sorting out.

Freddie wasn't here.  He was away on some trip.

Typical Freddie.

He never did let other people's lives intrude upon his. 

Or deaths for that matter.

I'm sure that's why he's so successful.


It was bad luck for George to have him as a brother. 

Freddie thought he was doing George a favour whenever he dropped in.  He had no idea how disruptive he was, casually turning up and rushing off again as it suited him - or how close to the edge George was.


I've gone over and over that Friday in my mind.

I knew George was a bit down. I wonder if I could I have done anything if I'd been earlier?

Or was it going to happen anyway?  

I miss George.  He was true.  He was real.  There was more imagination in George's little finger than in the whole of what passes for Freddie's brain.


I found George's list for that Friday in his jacket pocket.

Just a small folded piece of paper with the words "bottle of aspirin" and a doodle.  There's a little drawing of a ship and all the rounded letters have been filled in. 


I still have it. It keeps appearing in my mind as I'm dropping off to sleep.  It reminds me so much of George.  I'm sure it's affecting me because now I can't write my own shopping list. Every time I try my mind goes blank.


I will ask Mrs Benjee. She always makes me feel better.

After half-an-hour with her the world looks a sweeter place.

I don't know why.

Mrs Benjee doesn't do anything much.

She's usually in her garden when I go round.  It's quite a big garden, rather untidy, but it's very private. When you're in it, you can't see anywhere else.


I thought of Mrs Benjee when I heard some people being witty on television the other night. They were making rude remarks about "nice" people as if they were inferior.


But that's not Mrs Benjee. She said to me once "what's life for, if we're not trying to be better and helping people to feel better".  That's because Mrs Benjee is nice.


There's just no other word for it.



©  Yvonne Jerrold 1993

Friday was commended in the Bridport 1993 Monologue One Voice Competition


Reproduction in any form without express permission of the author is not allowed.


Return to:

Books & writing
Home page
Links page