FOR the last week I’ve been walking on eggshells. Emma is anxious and agitated. Noel is under-stimulated and over-reactive. Maria is angling for a pay increase. Meanwhile the twins, according to Emma’s obstetrician, both seem comfortable and to be gaining weight. And I am simply tired.
I stand, unobserved, at the kitchen door, my tie loosed and my briefcase left decisively at the front door. Where it shall remain, until tomorrow morning’s early departure. Noel sits at the table with Maria. I’m home early to relieve her. After all, a pay increase we can stomach. Her departure at this difficult time we could not. I’m never sure how much she feels part of the family. But she is a reassuring presence.
“But I wish we could go on holiday,” whines Noel, his mouth full. “I’m bored here. All my friends have gone away.”
“When I was your age we never dreamed of holidays,” replies Maria, sternly.
“No but you already lived in Spain. That’s a holiday. You couldn’t come to London for a holiday. It’s too boring.”
“Spain was not always for holidays Noel. Those were bad times in my country. Difficult times.” Maria has never spoken of growing up under Franco. She is a devout Catholic but also, I think, a socialist. She certainly always twinkles when my father has a go at me about politics.
I enter the kitchen. They both turn towards me.
Noel makes to leap from his chair. Maria bars his way.
“No. You sit and finish your dinner please young man.”
Noel and I look at one another sheepishly. I long to embrace my son but assume I should not.
“That looks good. Cornish pastie?” I ask.
“No stupid. It’s an empanada, from Maria’s native Galicia,” Noel replies, with supreme confidence. City Dad will be continued next Tuesday. For previous episodes, see cityam.com