MY parents have stayed on for an extra couple of days, ostensibly to help with Noel although he’s at school all day but actually, to allow the dust to settle after my run in with my father.
I get out of the chauffeur-driven car and walk towards my parents. My father wears an ancient trenchcoat but looks less like Peter Falk as Columbo than like a patrician Bertrand Russell on the CND marches of the late 1950s. Then I realise that, whilst I’ve seen many episodes of Columbo, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a picture of Russell.
My father likes to quote him. “The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt.” But somehow, whilst I’ve invariably been full of doubt, I’ve always felt my father placed me amongst the stupid and cocksure.
“Hello mum. Dad.”
“Ridiculous car,” my father growls. “Not that it’s for an old man to preach green politics to a younger man with three children.”
Before I can respond, the bell rings. Children flood from classrooms. We press through the gate. Noel and Billy erupt into the playground, twirling book bags above their heads. Suddenly, Noel spots us. The smile falls from his face. He stops and waves, dutifully. Perhaps he’s frightened of us, or thinks this subdued version is how we’d rather see him. Or perhaps he’s thinking tactically and is in hope of chocolate for good behaviour.
Then Noel smiles, dashes across the playground and throws himself at his grandfather. “Hello granddad. Thanks for coming to meet me.”
City Dad will continue next Tuesday. For previous episodes, see cityam.com