The woman I am obliged to call ‘Mum’ beckons me towards her friends. She pats the piano stool and tells me to play my competition piece. I want to go to my room but I play the piece anyway. I know what’ll happen if I don’t. I finish to a polite applause she reminds the other women how much she supports and encourages me. I smile and nod but avoid their eyes. They all have shoes with pointy heels, the type that ‘Mum’ says makes women look like prostitutes. I wait to be dismissed so I can leave the room as I get up she makes me tell them about my piano lessons at Guildhall. I hesitate. Her eyes glare a thick warning, hidden in her sweet face. I pull my shoulders back and recite the story we practiced earlier. Halfway though, I glance over to check I’m doing it right. She’s tilting her head forward and smiling on one side of her mouth, on the side her friends can see. Her eyes twitch as I look up and she quickly glances back at her friends with smiling eyes to reap the glory. She drinks the last of her purple wine, raising the glass up so her chin juts out underneath it. The empty glass clinks as she puts it on the glass table to her right. I finish the story and try to soak up some of the praise from the other women, however undeserved. The woman with the red shoes asks ‘Mum’ what I had to give up to make time for piano so well. ‘Oh nothing important,’ she says with a wave of her hand. No, I think, just friendship, spare time and unconditional love. They sound like important ‘nothings’ to me.