Noel lies in bed, staring up at the constellations of stars glowing in the dark on the ceiling above him. Recent bedtime stories have whizzed us through child-friendly, abridged nineteenth century classics: Frankenstein, Jekyll and Hyde, Dracula and most recently, Treasure Island, as much for my ill-read benefit as for Noel’s. And tonight, we’ve just returned to England aboard the Hispaniola, laden with pirate gold.
“Daddy, can I ask you a question?”
“You just did darling.” Noel turns his attention from the stars to me.
“No I didn’t. Anyway daddy, can I have a Treasure Island birthday party?”
I usually consider birthday parties to fall within Emma’s purview. But I’ve been enjoying our bedtime stories together and so, innocently, I embrace the moment.
“Yes, why not? Unless mummy has something else planned. What would you do? At a Treasure Island party?”
“Pirates,” rasps Noel, wide-eyed, looming towards me.
“You could be Jim Hawkins,” I suggest.
“Don’t be silly daddy. I’m Long John Silver.”
“But he’s a baddy. Why don’t you…”
“You can be Benn Gunn,” squeals Noel. “And grow a long, crazy white beard and wear a torn, raggedy old towel around you and nothing else. And we can all sing yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum. Could you build a pirate ship daddy? At the weekend? Me and Billy, we could help you.”
“Noel. It’s time to sleep.
“Shhh. Even pirates have to sleep. Let’s talk about it with mummy in the morning.”
“Okay daddy. I love you.”
“I love you too darling. Goodnight.”
I step out of Noel’s bedroom, just as Emma emerges from the twins’ bedroom.
“Noel says he wants a Treasure Island party.”
“Pirates? Yes,” says Emma. “We were talking about it at dinner.”
“Oh,” I reply. “Seems I’m to be Benn Gunn.” City Dad will continue in next Tuesday’s Lifestyle Section.