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    One of Them
              Well, the way I see it,  parents aren't there
               to be liked, mister, no more than we like
               kids. Kids ! Didn't ask to be brought into
               this world, and very few of us ask to
               be taken out: you owe them food in their
               bellies, an obligation, to be schooled,
               to make them better people than we were:
               but they're not people, not any more than
               grownups are. They've a secure right and how
               could they have that if we showed weaknesses,
               wrote down how we feel, what's really wrong with
               your aunty, missed the power bill, the meals, the
               garden in the weekends ? It's lonely here,
               on the top, as well as down below but
          you bring them up, you teach them right from wrong,
               you give them the things you didn't have. That's
               real life, see, one of us always needs the
               other. A kid can't move, or find food, or
               know, better than us, what's good for it, can't
               let it get away, grow dreams into the real
               world, forget the mortgage, miss its homework:

                            One day I'll be a burden,
               won't be able to move, or feed myself,
               make my own way to the john, you'll have to
               do it. Guess it may come as a shock for
               you suddenly to find that all along,
               under the stern morality, "don't lie
               to me, boy", under the "take only what
               belongs to you", "go back and give that to
               Mrs Draper and tell her that you took
               it from her counter and your dad'll pay
            next Thursday," "pay your bills", "an honest day's
               work and an honest day's pay", under the
               unmarked wall of adult adamite were
               reams of gold, marked, unspoken, secrets from
               our owners. I was strong for you boy, we
               never argued in front of you children,
               never admitted we were in debt, the
               things we didn't give you were for your own
               good, not that we wouldn't have given you
               the earth and our own lives, taught you the fight
            to make ends meet. We taught you 'treat your mum
               with respect' and clipped you round the ear, but
               we never let on, that your mother had
               feelings; looked at your cold knees in the night,
               and wept, that sometimes when she looked at me
               she trembled. We never let on, boy, the
               nights I came home drunk without the pay at
               all, what we thought when the boys and I went
               out on strike, how it felt when you left home
         and school, why we worried when you sniffed round
               that girl at the dairy thirty miles gone,
               or came home on that big bike of yours and
               no word of how you'ld pay - worries me to
               this day the things we let you get away
               with. You're an adult, you've got duties lad.
               Being human, this time round, just wasn't
               one of them.

Alice Thorpe
12 April, 1999