I’m driving Noel to school the day after his birthday party. In the rear view mirror I see him sitting in the back of the car, looking dreamily out of the window. “So how does it feel to be seven, Long John Silver?”
Noel ignores my question. “Daddy, when was it that all the bankers were leaving the country?”
Confused, my eyes flick between the road and Noel. “Leaving? Leaving where? What are you talking about Noel?”
“Mr Donnelly told us,” replies Noel. I’m now worried, as well as confused. Either Noel is learning history with which I’m entirely unfamiliar. Or there is some confusion in Mr Donnelly’s mind between the Expulsion of the Jews from England in 1290 and the sometime role of Jews as money-lenders. I can think of no other possibility.
“Noel, what precisely did Mr Donnelly say?” Noel smells a rat and is defensive. “Just about the bankers leaving daddy.”
We drive in silence, my mind in overdrive. Noel sits, playing with a new Star Wars figure and humming. We’re in good time for school and as we enter the playground I see Mr Donnelly.
“Good morning Mr Donnelly.” For a moment he doesn’t recognise me but then he sees Noel. “Good morning Mr Cashman. Good morning Noel.” Noel mumbles a response. Mr Donnelly is about to turn away.
“Actually Mr Donnelly, there was something I wanted to ask you. Bankers.”
“Yes, bankers. Leaving the country.”
“Leaving? Oh. Ha! Yes.” Mr Donnelly chuckles.
“Ry Cooder. The bankers all are leaving. From his new album. I was playing it to the children yesterday. He’s sixty-five this week. Amazing.”
And for the rest of the day I wonder about the advisability of playing politically charged songs by non-resident OAP guitar heroes to seven year olds.