Can you just do me a favour

FrIday 21st October

I first heard that phrase, oh probably in Cyprus, but it may have been Putney, though it would certainly have fallen from Grandma’s lips, it was one of her favourites. “Could you just do me a favour and pop upstairs for my cardigan” “Can you just do me a favour on the way home from school, and see if they have any of that Merino wool in the wool shop” “Can you just do me a favour and pass me the paper, it’s in the kitchen I believe”

And off I would trot, never complaining, never even recognising it as a chore, always happy to please. No, as a child I was eager to please, especially Grandma, whose moods were quite unpredictable, and who could take offence at the slightest remark, unintended or not, so to upset Grandma by refusing a favour was unthinkable.

Then when I started work in that little engineering firm, as the youngest it was almost my duty to run favours for all and sundry, making the tea, finding or sharpening a pencil, adding up their numbers, posting letters on the way home.  And again I didn’t really mind, I preferred to be busy anyway, and they were only favours after all.  Then at the fateful hotel where I met Adrian; after a while I became a sort of de facto assistant to Eddie, my boss, and again it would be “Catherine, can you just do me a favour and get the Sales ledger files for last year, they are in the cupboard behind me.”  Yes, you heard right, behind him, far closer to his hand than mine, but obviously it was beneath him to turn around and pull down the file, even though it was further for me to walk and I would have to reach on tip-toes and he was more than six feet tall.  “Oh Catherine, could you just do me a favour, and look again at these figures, they don’t make sense to me, they are just too high compared to last month.”  “Catherine, could you do me a favour and talk to Rosemary, she has been late three mornings this week.”  And so it would go on, I don’t even think he begun to realise how often he asked me to do him a little favour, and I can honestly say that in the almost ten years I worked there I never asked him for a favour once.  And I bet he never noticed that either.  So at that point I was dying to say but never did, “No, I cannot just do you a favour – you never do any for me.  Do it yourself.”

Then I married and eager to please as ever I was always happy to do Edward favours, but these became more and more, and I became resentful and couldn’t understand why in this as so many other relationships of mine, it was me doing all the favours.  Then he was diagnosed, and I begun to wonder if his apparent idleness was actually due to his illness and his constant feelings of exhaustion, so I happily resumed doing favours for him.  So now I would say “Yes, of course I can. It’s just a little favour after all”