Fathers and sons
Sunday evening at 8.30pm, I’m sat outside The Griffin in Bowdon, Cheshire – having a pint with my 17-year old son, Joshua – enjoying an intelligent conversation about his future choices – university or the work-force – passion versus necessity – straightening his life out after a year even more off the rails than normal. I love this lad – he gets in more trouble than I ever imagined possible – he’s a good looking boy with a big mouth – after working out at the gym all year, he’s looking like a Calvin Klein advert. He’s ADD configured – and I’ve asked a lot of questions in the last year about how best to communicate with him. He’s infuriatingly good at passing exams, after cramming in last minute revision and hardly faltering in his relationship with girls, drink and dope. Sunday evening feels like real progress – and we agree to stay in conversation on the subjects covered. At 3.00am this morning I am woken by the need to deal with the same young man – home from a local night-club, drunk as a skunk, not high – but presenting some extraordinary behaviour- tears and anger in multiple layers. After an hour of careful questioning, it appears that he has come close to being stabbed by a promiment member of the local Mafiosa – after causing some trouble that he cannot remember. On leaving the club he has been chased and almost caught by at least one, possibly more individuals brandishing knives. Josh has been in fights before – sometimes fights he has started – but this is different. He is petrified by his experiences and in a state of deep shock. I apologetically call his best friend’s mother to check that Max is OK – and he is soundly asleep. There is no doubt that Josh isn’t faking it – he has been running so fast that there will be some very sore legs in the morning – there is blood on his clothes that worries us – but it could be from a bad scrape on the back of his hand. He tells us that he ran and also hid in gardens on his solitary journey home from the village nightclub. Both of his elder brothers arrive back a half-hour later – both drunk – and tell us that there was trouble at the club – that someone wanted a fight with Josh but that his brothers and friends stood by him. It seems that later, somebody decided to take matters into their own hands. By the time he wakes, I’ll be long gone on my business travels for the week – I just hope the fear has made a positive impression. This morning I’m counting some of my blessings, feeling lucky that I still have three sons. For the boys – a day in bed. For Dad – a drive to Edinburgh and a week’s work to deliver after 4 hours sleep. Such is parenting.