13th November 2017
To my children
There isn’t anything for you. There won’t be anything for you.
There isn’t a last will and testament; there isn’t a handshake, a verbal understanding, an unwritten, unspoken acknowledgement.
There’s nothing for you, nothing left, nothing preserved. There are no pensions, there is no pot, I’m not paying in and my employer isn’t topping up.
There is no home, no castle, no foot on the ladder.
There are no savings, no deposits, no high interest savings accounts, no bearer bonds, no stocks, no shares, no property, no investments, our money isn’t in anything, we don’t have our fingers in a couple of pies.
There are no heirlooms, no treasures to be handed down, nothing to be kept in the family, nothing from the cellar or the attic covered in dust, nothing loaned to a museum or gallery, there are no works of art, there are no brooches, or diamond rings, or first editions or copies signed by the author.
There is no money saved away for driving lessons or university fees or plush white weddings. There is no lump sum when you turn 18 or 21. There isn’t a collection of rare vinyl, or spiderman comics, or vintage cars, or match day programmes from old Wembley, or pictures of handshakes with dignitaries or celebrities, no OBE’s or MBE’s. There are no items of value, no objects laced with sentiment, no relics from our travels, we’ve never been to India or Laos or rural Thailand, we don’t have anything hand carved, nothing hand sown, nothing made from goats wool or buffalo hide.
There’s nothing for you.
You can have the picnics in the garden. The seaside holidays, the sand castle building and the rock pools. You can have the bike riding, the roller-skating, the bubble blowing. The blowing out the candles on the birthday cake, the dancing on my feet, the singing, the staying up late, the piggy backs, the going on my shoulders, the sliding across the dance floor on your knees. The tadpole catching, the blackberry picking, the made up stories, the little dens under the table, the dinner arranged in the shape of a smiley face with the cucumber eyes, tomato nose and spikey carrot stick hair. You can have it all. The laughter, the being chased up the stairs, the getting muddy, the bubble baths, the collection of pebbles from the beach. Everything you can remember. You can have it all. The snowman building, the little nests for the birds or the 5 star woodlice hotels. It’s all yours. The games of school or pirates or families or shop or space aliens or cafés that go on for hours and hours and hours. You can have the kisses, the cuddles, the smiles. It’s all yours.
You can have it all.
This text is adapted from Search Party’s current performance ‘My Son & Heir’. The end of my second pregnancy coincided with the announcement of the Duchness of Cambridge’s Royal bun in the oven. ‘My Son & Heir’ confronts the spectacle of the ‘New Royals’ and their strategic attempts to appear just like us. It is a playful examination of the relentlessness of raising children, and the guilt-ridden one-upmanship of mainstream baby culture, in which we consider what sort of man our son and heir will become.
‘My Son & Heir’ is part of Search Party’s Growing Old With You series, a life-long performance project exploring our changing perspective of age, as we grow old together.