The school year has ended. The children have dispersed, if only briefly. It seems that many of them will reconvene shortly in Tuscany, with splinter groups in Umbria and the Dordogne.
Noel presented Mr Donnelly with a fine and very expensive teapot as his end of year gift. As recommended by Nick. It seems that’s the kind of free advice you get as an equity investor in a newly successful online tea importing business. It’s certainly an advance on the shiny apple that sufficed in my youth.
Meanwhile, our own summer travel plans are uncertain; although I may not yet have made that quite clear to Emma. We’re holding reservations at the Villa d'Este on Lake Como but I’m also holding rather firmer reservations on a major transaction that’s likely to place me in, well, let’s just say “another continent” for now.
As Emma and I sort through the vast accumulation of Noel’s 2011-2012 school artwork, I resolve to raise the issue of holidays. But I’d forgotten just how much energy is required to curate the Noel Cashman oeuvre.
Emma reverently turns a tiny canvas covered in colour splodges in her hand. “We can’t throw this away. Noel did it as part of the class project on Damien Hirst’s spot paintings.”
“OK,” I concede graciously, giving ground tactically in order to strengthen my iconoclastic hand strategically. But soon paintings, pottery and what Emma calls “mixed media artifacts” are being nodded through and placed in boxes. The recycling box remains empty.
“Mixed media artifacts?” I challenge. “They look like failed 1970s Blue Peter creations.”
Emma’s nostrils flare. I’ve transgressed. I seek to change subject. “Look, our holiday…” I begin.
“Oh, I’m so looking forward to it,” says Emma, outflanking me. Tactically and strategically, I’m in an utter mixed media mess.