Tuesday, 7 September 2010

With a knap-sack on my back...

Pens and pencil cases have been carefully mulled over in WH Smith before the much desired Hello Kitty range was finally opted for. School uniform has been purchased and name tapes have been, albeit clumsily, sewn in. That sinking feeling is much upon the household. The youngest, amid much enforced bonhomie from their mother along the lines of “Yay, school in a few days time! Yay! You’ll see your friends again”, has been met with stony silence.
So, before the hamster wheel of school, homework, ballet, tap, swimming, Rainbows, musical theatre, after school clubs, spelling practise and homework starts rolling and the eldest two embark on their GCSEs and A levels respectively, we have tried to take full advantage of lying in bed until after nine, not minding that the youngest are watching Hannah Montana before breakfast, eating dinner at odd hours and basically wallowing in the calm before the storm.
This hasn’t been quite fulfilling enough for Hubby who is now, after several weeks of downtime, eager to get back to his recruits and what better example to these determined, young people than if their Commander were to do a little ‘exped’ of his own. So, as soon as it was decently possible after the Red-Head’s sixth birthday party, he downloaded a map from the internet, borrowed all manner of walking gear from a more roister-doistering friend and then, went about the challenge of embroiling our nocturnal, lounge lizard of a son, to accompany him.
Of course Hubby had to be patient and await the emergence of his son from his bedroom, which was approximately two hours after lunch. By this time Hubby had packed and was champing at the bit.
“This is really important Alice love”, he said, tying his boots, “Our lad will be eighteen in a matter of weeks; it’s high time we spent some quality time together and what better way than walking the coastal path”.
I didn’t want to rain on his parade but were they physically up to it?
“I mean, you take daily drugs because of the arthritis in your knee and our boy, well, the most active thing I’ve ever seen him do is take a shower”.
“Alice you forget his bass playing. He comes off that stage drenched in sweat”.
“I appreciate that, but that takes a different kind of stamina. I can’t think off the top of my head of any rock-star sports men. Keith Richards is hardly renowned for his charity walks is he? Whereas Ian Botham, is”.
“What are you getting at Alice?” I wasn’t entirely sure, other than I didn’t think either of them were particularly enviable specimens of masculine perfection. I didn’t articulate that last bit though. They didn’t need my negativity. Instead I silently made up a first aid kit of Savlon and plasters and Ibuprofen.
Hubby began to pace, then paused to re-check his rucksack for a torch, a map and a compass.
I was bewildered by the last item. “I may not be Shackleton darling and I’ve done few mega walks. None to be honest, but I would have thought that as I long as you had the sea to your left, you were, well, going the right way?” Hubby looked slightly sheepish but I think that he just liked the compass as an artefact. It’s synonymous with adventure.
Eventually he could stand it no longer and went to wake our son. It came as bit of shock to him to find that he wasn’t going into town with Jim to search out some gigs, but was in-fact, going to walk from Looe to Mevagissy with a rucksack on his back. “Oh Fal-da-ree man”, came his only comment.
Before they left I took my boy to one side and, after giving him an enormous hug, tried to explain the significance of this father/son time together. “You see dad has always hankered after a father that would have done something similar with him. Someone to look up to, to depend on, to learn from, you know that kind of thing that you, having dad for a father, take for granted”.
“It’s cool ma, I get it”. And with a bagel in his hand, he, his father and a very loyal dog were whisked away by Mags who dropped them off in Looe for the start of their awfully big adventure.
And it was awfully big. By the end of the second day they rang from Charlestown.
“I surrender Alice. Our blisters are bigger than our toes. The dog is half dead. We are drenched in sweat and knackered. We won’t get kicked off the course if we don’t finish the next eight miles”. I drove to rescue them. They were upbeat, suntanned and beaming. When we arrived home, Hubby emptied the rucksacks and I drew a bath for my boy.
“Know what Ma?” he said, sitting on the edge of the bath, as I whirled his bubbles, “This trip meant a lot to dad and it was great being with him. He’s a good guy. He really is”.

1 comment:

DL said...

We're all good guys, we Dads!