BL16 - Page 26



TABLE TALK
Experience
THE GI VER OF GIFTS
T
he idea struck me, as
it must so many, while
sitting at the bar at
Boisdale. Squinting at
the bottles lined up along the wall,
I asked my drinking companion if
he had any contacts at Sandeman.
He squinted ever so slightly
because we’d had a few by then.
“You know, they make port,”
I elaborated.
He scratched his ear, said he
might, and then asked me why I
needed to get in touch with them.
“Because I’m off to Portugal
next week, and my godfather is
a chap called George Sandeman
who lives over there, but I’ve
never met him,” I said.
Odd, you might think, to have
a godfather you’ve never met. His
brother was my father’s best friend
but sadly died not long before I
was born, so George was asked as
an honourary representative
instead and accepted. I suspect he
knew he might not be around that
much and he couldn’t come to my
christening, so sent a string of
Cartier pearls as a present instead
and then disappeared.
The new godparents of Archie
Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor
don’t have much of an excuse to
forget their godson’s birthday
because the poor little blighter
will be photographed in the
papers every year, but buying an
extremely expensive and generous
present is a canny move if you’ve
recently been asked to become a
godparent and can already feel a
sense of foreboding that you will
forget all little Matilda’s birthdays.
Get in early and disappear
afterwards, obligation fulfilled.
Anyway, as if working on an
extremely grand missing person
case, the following day my
Boisdale drinking pal put me in
SOPHIA
M O N E Y–
C OU T T S
Novelist and
columnist for the
S u n d a y Te l e g r a p h
touch with the wine writer Henry
Jeffreys. I explained the details to
him – unmet Sandeman godfather
– whereupon Henry furnished me
with his email address. (It’s never
that easy in TV dramas, is it?)
Cut to Lisbon a few weeks later
when I met up for one of those
lunches that will long stick in the
mind. George, a tall, elegant figure
in a linen suit, appeared at the
table and for more than two hours,
over vinho verde and bacalao, we
talked about relationships and
family and life’s high hopes and
failed ambitions in a much more
uncomplicated way than I ever
could with my own parents. It
didn’t matter a jot that we’d never
met before. What advice could
George have given three-year-old
me? Far more useful to meet up in
Lisbon when I, as an adult, could
properly listen to his godfatherly
wisdom. Also, at the end of lunch,
George handed me a small bag in
which was a delicate bracelet –
three strands of pearls fastened
26
BOISDALELIFE .COM
SUMMER 2019
ISSUE 16
with a small, glittery clasp. My
eyes welled up, and I don’t think
it was just the wine.
As someone who is terrible at
remembering birthdays and whose
friends have started producing
small bald babies at such a rate
I forget all their names, I took huge
comfort from this lunch. I have
four godchildren thus far and love
them all, but I do not loom large in
their lives. Every now and then, I
nip over for a cup of tea with their
parents and hand over a book
about dinosaurs I’ve hurriedly
bought in Waterstones. “Look, it’s
Godmother Soph!” they tell their
infant, encouragingly, since the
child is staring at me like one of
those strangers they’ve been
warned about at school.
And there are all sorts of rules
that come with being a godparent
these days. “Feel free to Instagram
him,” my friend told me recently,
of her new son. “We tell that to all
the godparents.” A social media
policy on godparenting! I’ve also
heard tales of WhatsApp
godparent groups, which the
proud mother sets up to keep the
godparents constantly informed
of how the five-year-old is doing
in maths and PE, with photo
evidence of homework and sports
day. As if we all need yet another
WhatsApp group in our lives.
George and I have since become
firm email friends and I have
decided he will be the model on
which I base my relationship with
my own godchildren. I’ll stick
a tenner in an envelope for
Christmases and birthdays for a
few years yet, but once they’re
old enough it will become long
lunches and actual friendship.
Probably no Cartier gifts, though.
On a writer’s salary – are you
kidding me?
G E TT Y I MAG E S , IL L U S T R AT I O N : MA RT I N K IN G D O M
A well-chosen godparent can be the best mentor and confidant a child can
ever have, if your parents appoint one out of love and not expectation...





Powered by


Full screen Click to read
Paperturn flipbook system
Search
Overview
Download as PDF
Print
Shopping cart
Full screen
Exit full screen