He was always more of an After Hours Plato. Always going on about this law or that one, in his posh voice. She was never sure if he had actually been a lawyer in a former life, but eyeing up his shabby Tesco carrier bag and faded brown suit, she doubted it. He used to prop up the bar where she worked after school; it was a tiny old man’s pub, boring as hell but she needed the cash.
She never paid him much notice until one hot afternoon on the housing estate. She had been laughing with her mate about flunking school when the old man had suddenly stood up and shouted at her, “hey Tracy!, ” he pointed straight at her, “don’t you ever laugh about screwing up your school years. Plenty of us did that and look where we are now!” at this he slumped back down and slugged back his whisky.
She tried to laugh off his outburst but it really niggled her. She knew that she pretended to be thick at school, so she wouldn’t get bullied but how did he know that? She started talking more to him after that. Asking him about the stupid laws he was always going on about, asking him about philosophy and politics. Once her curiosity had been awakened, she couldn’t contain it. She had a thirst for knowledge that shocked her with its ferocity. No-one from around here ever talked to her like that and it was her secret. She had confessed to him that she would love to have been a lawyer one day but poor girls like her, with scruffy accents could never become lawyers. “I’m from the estate and it is too big a jump for someone like me. It is just a pipe dream.” He just shook his head at this.
However, their talks had given her a strange confidence to tune in at school. She had been shocked to discover that she had passed all of her exams with flying colours. She was actually the top of all of her classes. As she ran into the pub, breathless, desperate to tell him the great news, she was perturbed to find his usual place vacant. She asked the manager where he was. After Hours Plato was always in the pub!
“Dunno, love. He hasn’t been in all day.” the manager just shrugged. Well, he didn’t turn up all week and she was now seriously worried.
It was on the Saturday that the pub door opened and a very official looking man in a suit walked in. He spotted her straight away and came up to ask if she was Tracy. Handing her an envelope, he nodded and pushed a crisp white business card across the bar at her, “Call me once you have digested the letter and I will make the necessary arrangements.”
She opened the envelope, reading the letter,
“My dearest Tracy,
I know you used to call me “After Hours Plato” behind my back, so I am leaving you two things. The first is one of his most famous quotes:
“Οι καλοί άνθρωποι δεν χρειάζονται νόμους που να τους λένε να ενεργούν υπεύθυνα, ενώ κακοί άνθρωποι θα βρουν έναν τρόπο γύρω από τους νόμους.”
“Good people do not need laws to tell them to act responsibly, while bad people will find a way around the laws.”
You see, Plato believed only that there were good people and bad people and in between we had laws to govern both. You, my girl, are a good person. You are not defined by your childhood or your accent or the estate where you grew up. You are defined by your drive, intellect and ambition. Law knows no class. Law knows no accents. It is much much purer than that.
So, I am leaving you something else. I am leaving you my estate which is substantial. Wealth, for me was inherited but money only brought me unhappiness. I hope that my wealth will enable you to go and be the lawyer you were always destined to be, but always remember your true wealth is your intelligence and that will never leave you.
From After Hours Plato to a Future Female Plato.”
ART AND WRITING BY ANNA LOUISE SIMPSON