Went to a dinner party on Friday night and my friend told me about a boy who pitched up to her house. ‘Excuse me; Humphrey is here to see you.’ I know the feeling. You are in the middle of making lunch or writing an email and you think; ‘I know what he wants’ and there on your doorstep is a tragic story and a problem to solve that can only really be cured by money.
Humphrey was travelling from ‘up country’ on a regular basis doing odd jobs in next door’s garden during the school holidays, to pay for his school fees. He was a relative of a member of ex house staff. The neighbour has had a cash flow crisis and can’t afford to pay the boy any longer; she has her own children’s school fees to worry about. Humphrey has just over a year before his schooling is finished. He needs £100. My friend said; ‘You see I’m already paying for someone’s medical bills and another to buy a plot of land, I’m not sure I can take on this problem but I can’t ignore it either.’ It might be possible to say; ‘sorry I can’t help you’ but then you won’t be able to sleep at night. She said that he never actually asked her for the money either, he just explained his predicament. You think; ‘I can’t afford to do that’ but then remember that you just spent £70 on a meal out, or on a new duvet cover. (However, you don’t want to just throw money at a problem before you really know what your doing either; like the time we spent a fortune on blood tests, paediatricians and MRI scans for our ayah's daughter, who turned out to be suffering only from growing pains.)
My friend had a plan whereby her friends might chip in and get the money together. Her husband thinks she’s mad, you can’t always help everyone. I said I’d give her some cash and suggested she should stand outside the kindergarten gates canvassing her friends, although I’d rather her than me…