The Third Child

The Third Child aged 6. Or maybe 7...

The Third Child aged 6. Or maybe 7…

“So why did you have a third child?”

As the third child was asking the question, it seemed to merit an answer.

“I’m going out for a walk,” I’d said to him an hour earlier. “Do you want to come?”

To my surprise he’d said ‘yes.’ And here we were on the cliffs – as always, straight into a serious conversation.

“How long did you and Mum live together before you got married?”

Where had that come from? Jane and I had suspicions that our youngest son’s nights out ‘just with my friends’ were no longer nights out with his friends. But he’s 17; he’s entitled to his secrets – and to ask the questions, apparently. [Read more…]

You Never Stop Worrying…



Tom was two days old. Lying in an incubator. He was jaundiced: the result of a Ventouse delivery.

“He’ll be fine,” the doctor said. Which was no use at all to his anxious parents. We  sat by the side of his cot – quite painfully in my wife’s case, thanks to the stitches – watching, waiting and powerless. And now on first name terms with every parent’s daemon; worry.

But the doctor was right. He was fine. We took him home – and three days later we were pacing the bedroom floor at four in the morning, worrying that we couldn’t get him to sleep. “What the hell have we done?” I said to Jane.

But gradually we learned how to be parents. ‘That’s it,’ I remember thinking. ‘I can change a nappy. Cracked it.’

Tom grew up; a bright, intelligent, curly haired little boy. Then suddenly, he was ill. Really ill. [Read more…]

I’m Struggling with Exam Nerves…

Here we go again...

Here we go again…

Seven o’clock. What’s that? Night Owl if I know my iPhone alarms. But it hasn’t got a hope.

I can hear the alarm downstairs. It’s going off right next to Ben’s bed. But with exams starting next week there’s only one way to wake a teenager – a serious shaking. And you learn to live with the inevitable abuse…

I rap smartly on his door. Wait the obligatory ten seconds – when he’s awake, just long enough to guarantee his laptop screen is showing school work – and walk in. I immediately trip over a shoe. Then I stand on a text book.

Yes, yes, I know these are trivialities compared to having younger children. How did the Spanish Inquisition miss standing on Lego in your bare feet? But they don’t make for a dignified entrance.

“Time to wake up,” I say.

“As you’ve just tripped over everything in my bedroom I am awake.” [Read more…]

A Piece of Lego Changed my Life…

March 2003. Tuesday night. Dark, cold, raining. Football on TV.

So like many of the events that change your life, I very nearly didn’t go.

But I hauled myself off the settee, dodged the puddles in a sodden car park and went to a meeting of the local Writers’ Circle.

The speaker was Paul Napier, the editor of the local paper.

Paul was talking about the mechanics of newspaper production. I started to drift away…

Then: “We’d quite like a humorous weekly column. If anyone thinks they could write one.” [Read more…]

Another Slice of Sam’s Pizza

Absolute favourite for reading out loud...

Absolute favourite for reading out loud…

It’s a sure sign that your bedroom needs re-decorating.

You’re 17 and the frieze running round your wall is covered in smiling seals and sailing boats. Yep, time for Mum and Dad to do something.

But before we’re condemned – and Ben sues for the psychological trauma of children’s wallpaper throughout his teenage years – let me enter a plea for the defence.

Tom. Jessica. University accommodation bills. And re-plastering the ceiling – instead of Mum and Dad having a weekend away, obviously…

Anyway, we’re on to it now. Tom’s not back until Easter, Ben’s been moved upstairs and Jane and I are like a well-oiled machine… [Read more…]

The Wings to Fly

Dear Tom

I am pleased to be able to confirm in writing our offer of employment…

I’ve said many times on this blog that parents go through ‘rite of passage’ moments every bit as much as their children. Your wife shows you a stick with two blue lines on it. You hold your son’s hand and take him to nursery. Thirteen years later he rolls through the front door and throws up on your carpet…

Four years ago we dropped Tom off at university. This morning he e-mailed me – with an attachment from a Formula One team.

I ran down the letter. [Read more…]

They’re Gone. And so is the Wine…

Tom's gone back to university...

Tom’s gone back to university…

Warning: The following post does not contain flashing images, violence, strong sex scenes or offensive language. However, readers of an alcoholic nature could still find it distressing, especially if they may have teenage children one day.

Yep, they’re gone.

Tom went back to university on Wednesday – just the 400 mile round trip to keep me amused – and Jane took Jessica on Saturday. I stayed at home and loaded empties into the recycling bin. Thank the Lord we don’t have to go to the bottle bank any more. The humiliation would have been too much.

So there’s no wine left. The wine rack – despite regular reinforcements – fought a valiant rearguard action, but in the end it was simply overwhelmed. [Read more…]

Law, Logic and a Watermelon

“I just need to call at Sainsbury’s on the way home,” I said as Ben climbed into the car.

“No problem. How was your day?”

I love that. Love, love, love that. And if you’re the parent of a teenager you’ll know why.

I’ve just collected you from College and yes, I’m fully aware you have an unbreakable appointment with your Xbox or mobile or both but the family needs this inconvenient thing called food.

Travel back in time three years and Jessica would most certainly have answered… [Read more…]

Who’s the Adult Here?

I must have been to a hundred.

But suddenly I’m on the home straight. More than that – I’m over the last and heading for a bag of oats.

At the most there are four to go. Maybe even three. Then they’re gone. Never to return.

I refer, of course, to every parent’s favourite way of spending a winter’s evening. The parent/teacher meeting.

The children came home with a crumpled letter from school. Head lice? Not this time. Extortion demand for a field trip? Nope, your money’s safe for another week. So it must be the parent/teacher evening.

“Who shall I make an appointment with?” [Read more…]