The Lost Samurai

The Lost Samurai

Ben’s plan for next year…

Flashback six months. Ben and I are walking past Malham Tarn. We’re a couple of miles into our 5 days/90 miles Pennine Way epic. And I’m feeling good.

“We should do this every year,” I say.

As I say, feeling good. At the time I hadn’t walked for eight hours soaked to the skin. I hadn’t been so exhausted that I couldn’t speak. I hadn’t slipped on the rocks and broken two fingers. I hadn’t fallen in a bog and had to walk a mile in my underpants to dry out.

“As long as you’re up to it, Dad.” Back in August I thought he was being considerate. Now I realise he had the gift of foresight.

“Where shall we go next year? Southern Ireland? Bologna to Florence?”

“Why don’t we walk across Japan?” [Read more…]

The Poor, Brave Soldier

The Poor, Brave Soldier

The wife when I was hallucinating…

That’s how it starts. The sudden need for your wife to soothe your brow and call you her ‘poor, brave soldier.’

Technically, it starts with the ominous shivering. “I just can’t get warm today,” I said last Saturday lunchtime. And three hours later I wrapped myself in my dressing gown, crawled into bed and pulled an extra blanket over me. Then I asked – very weakly – for another blanket.

But when the shivers and shakes start, nothing keeps you warm.

“Maybe I’ve eaten something,” I whispered. “I’ll be OK tomorrow.”

“Good,” my wife said, “Because Ben says he’s bringing Chloe round.”

What? He was finally bringing her round? No way could I meet her in this state. I had to get better… [Read more…]

First World Problems

First World Problems

Another appalling first world problem: the eggs should have been on the toast…

It can only be a matter of time. I’ll hear the sirens any minute. Social services must be on their way by now. Ben will be taken into care.

We’ll be filed under ‘failed parents.’ And quite right too.

What have we done? Two things. Sit down, because the scale of our neglect will horrify you.

Number one, the internet has been off for three days. Our early-Victorian router has been diagnosed as the problem. A new one is in the post. Until then we’re back in the Dark Ages (or, in my case, sneaking off to the office at six in the morning.)

That alone would be bad enough. The shame our son will have suffered at college…

But we’ve compounded the felony. We’ve run out of coffee pods. [Read more…]

Empty Nest Alert

Empty Nest Alert

Here we go again…

“I’ve had acknowledgements from Exeter and Edinburgh, Dad.”

“That’s great, Ben,” I say, outwardly smiling.

But inside I’m a mix of emotions. Pleasure, panic, relief, sadness.

Twelve hours ago our youngest son pressed ‘send.’ And that was that. His university application was hurled into cyberspace.

Clearly it’s landed safely. At least in Exeter and Edinburgh. And I’m pleased for him. Ben’s ready to go. He’s ready for the next step, ready to leave home.

But does he need to be quite so far from home?

“What about York?”

“Much too close.” [Read more…]

Your Son is Two: 4 Things you Need to Do

So cute. Maybe it's not too late to have some more...

So cute. Maybe it’s not too late to have some more…

Rachel – a virtual pal of mine – wrote a blog post last week. 10 Things being a Parent has Taught me. Respect for my mum, makes you a better person, discover patience you never knew you had… And, of course, 3am no longer means alcohol.

Nope, it means vomit trickling down your back and a knacker-whacking from your lovely wife.

“You’ve woken me up.”

“I’m frozen. I thought cuddling you would – ”

“Well it won’t. Go and freeze in the spare room.”

Rachel’s son is two. As my eldest is now 22, I thought I might offer a little advice. Just in case she thinks she’s got this parenting lark licked. Four things you need to do now your son is two… [Read more…]

Things I Learned About my Dad on the Pennine Way

"He can't read a map..."

“He can’t read a map…”

“He can’t read a map.”

My wife raised her eyebrows. “Tell me something I don’t know. The only reason we’re still married is the invention of the SatNav. Do you remember that time in France?”

“You mean when he got lost in the supermarket car park and you had that enormous argument?”

I’d rather hoped Ben had been too young to remember that little incident. Clearly not. They spent a happy couple of minutes reminiscing about my failings. “What else?” Jane asked.

“Well…” [Read more…]

Back to School No More

3 for 2? It doesn't matter any more...

3 for 2? It doesn’t matter any more…

‘Back to School.’ Three words in a shop window that used to utterly depress me.

Now, I rather like them – in the same way I’ll like it in the afterlife when Beelzebub tells me he’s going to roast someone else for the next half hour.

Sure, Ben’s going back to college on Tuesday, but so what? He goes in jeans, t-shirt and a hoodie. Uniform? You must be joking – that’s only for the girls, jeans with ripped knees clearly being mandatory.

Tom’s now a grown up and Jessica’s heading back to Sheffield – via a short detour to a music festival in the Isle of Wight. Meanwhile, the shops are ablaze with window stickers – and several social media pals are on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Not that I was always so relaxed… [Read more…]

Polo Shirts and Peer Pressure

 

“Why are you wandering around in your underpants, Dad?”

“I’m not.”

“Actually, Dad, you are.”

“Well, technically, yes.”

“That’s worrying, Dad. When Mum’s assessing patients ‘not knowing you’re wandering around in underpants’ will be right at the top of the list.”

I carefully explained to my youngest son that whilst at that moment I might – technically – only be wearing underpants and socks (sorry if you’re having breakfast) I was actually trying clothes on.

Lots of them… [Read more…]

Motes, Beams and Top Trumps

The view from Denis Malcolm Kendall...

The view from Denis Malcolm Kendall…

Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.

Or in this case, thy son’s…

You may have noticed there’s been a little political excitement of late. Tom and I were discussing it over the dinner table last week. I use the word ‘discussing’ in its loosest possible sense.

“Did you really vote Leave?” [Read more…]

A Perfect Father’s Day

Father's DayFather’s Day. 8:30 in the morning. I was back from walking the dog. Six weeks to go until the Pennine Way and the wretched training schedule had demanded ten miles. Ten foggy miles…

Never mind. My loving family would be in the hall to meet me. Jane with a cup of tea and a slice of toast, two of my three lovely children with beaming smiles and ‘Best-Dad-Ever presents.’ And somehow Tom would have arranged a special delivery from Cambridge, cajoling Yodel to deliver a case of amusing Shiraz on a Sunday morning.

No.

They were all still asleep.

I scanned the hall.

And nothing from Tom.

Ah well. I hadn’t been expecting much… [Read more…]