(Again, apologies for the lateness and brevity...)
Esther was the only au pair we ever had who prompted tears when she left.
Esther is awesome.
She wrote to me a few days ago, asking if I could proof-read her sister’s thesis to check the grammar. (Since, for some bizarre reason I haven’t yet ascertained, the sister’s thesis has to be written in English, not German.)
The critical mistake Esther made was to insist on paying me.
Unpaid, I couldn’t have refused.
Paid, I had to confess I really, really don’t have time.
What about Bink? I said.
Or my father?
Bink and my father are both Cambridge classicists. And grammar freaks.
I consider I am a bit of a grammar Nazi myself. But (I think I’ve told you this) Bink made about a thousand corrections to my last novel.
And you can tell my family, from me, that this isn’t “journalist’s exaggeration”. There were, like, lots of pages in my last novel. And lots of corrections from Bink on each one.
Anyways, Bink said she couldn’t possibly complete the Esther’s sister’s corrections in time for the deadline of next Monday.
So I gave my father a copy. Knowing he would never accept payment. So Bink could have all the spindolas and my father all the responsibility.
He couldn’t make head or tail of it, and handed it back after a day.
Bink read it on the bus home (blimey, this is boring, she said: that’s what the money’s for, I said) and finished it yesterday.
That’s two pieces of paid work, now, since she was fifteen.
Life looking up...
(And by the way, I said, you left your box of choccies here.
I know, she laughed.
Funny thing, she said. I’m not really into chocolate.
I know where you’re coming from, I said. I wondered why that was the chosen currency.)