As I reported last week, Ben is now 18. And determined to ‘go-out-where-nowhere-special’ at every opportunity.
The first time was a fortnight ago. It coincided with Jane and me being away for the night. So no need to worry…
“Send us a text,” I said. “Whatever time it is, let us know you’re safely home. Otherwise I’ll wake up worrying and ring you.”
“I’ll be fine…”
True to his word, Ben sent a text.
It arrived at 3:12am.
The over-excited car horn on my phone wakes me up. But I don’t mind.
Safely home. All good
I stab a sleepy finger at the screen and reply. And then realise my phone needs charging. And my Fitbit. Oh crap. But the plan is to go for a walk in the morning. Six miles on the cliffs before my beloved wakes up.
Never mind, we’re in a hotel. There’ll be plug sockets everywhere. Creep out of bed, don’t wake the wife, plug everything in, go back to sleep.
Except this hotel isn’t a hotel. We’re in an ancient manor house on the edge of the North Yorkshire Moors, converted to take private parties. We’re snug and warm in a four poster, in a wonderfully old-fashioned room: with original art going back to the 16th century.
But no plug sockets.
I’m naked. I’m trying to find a plug socket using the light on my phone. I’m trying to be silent. My wife is sleeping through all this. It needs to stay that way. I’m frozen: our wonderfully old-fashioned room has a wonderfully old-fashioned window and the wind is coming straight off the moors.
And now I’m limping as well. I’ve just stubbed my toe on the four-poster. Everyone knows you cure a stubbed toe by swearing loudly. Not when your wife’s asleep you don’t…
There are still no plug sockets. “$£%&!” I whisper.
Hang on, I’ve a bedside light. That must be plugged in somewhere. Finding the plug socket means moving the bedside table. It’s an old wooden table and an old wooden floor. Can I do it quietly? Of course I can’t. Is it worth ending my marriage to charge my phone? It’s a risk I’ll have to take.
I say a silent prayer of thanks to whoever gave my wife that extra cherry brandy. She seems to be out for the count. Anyway, I’ve moved the table. Now all I need to do is trace the wire to the plug.
Dear God, it goes under the bed. Right under the bed.
Is this some stupid National Parks planning regulation? All plugs have to be under the bed? I get down on my hands and knees and crawl under the bed. A long way under the bed. There’s an extension lead – slap bang in the middle.
Mission finally accomplished, I collapse back into bed. My wife – note to self, buy cherry brandy – is miraculously still asleep.
Two hours later I’m awake. Time for the walk. It’s pitch black, but it should be light by the time I reach the cliff-top. If you’re reading this you can assume it was. I silent ninja my way out of the bedroom. Honestly, I should have been a secret agent…
“Can’t you be quiet?” a voice says.
Second note to self: the effect of cherry brandy wears off.
Clearly I need to say something. “Did you sleep well, darling?”
“No. I had this ridiculous nightmare. There was this constant banging – like there was a madman in the room. I looked over to your side of the bed and you’d disappeared. All I could see was a huge pair of naked buttocks sticking out from under the bed…”
I’m now working on a 35,000 word e-book about the 5 day, father/son walk Ben and I did on the Pennine Way: if you’d like to read a few sample chapters before publication, just use the contact form to let me know. In the meantime if you’d like a copy of the ‘laugh out loud’ Best Dad featuring 27 of my favourite columns from all the years I’ve been writing, it’s available here for 99p on your Kindle.