Thursday 26 March 2009

Soldier, soldier

The boy and his Dad have been somewhat troubled by him remaining unrewarded for all his exertions for the school. He's played rugby for the first and second teams, and swum in the junior team...but no 'Colours'. He's won the javelin during school sports two years on the trot. He's top of the class in history (when he wants to be) and also in English...but nothing to collect on Prize Day.

So we are very much delighted that he has been awarded 'Most promising Cadet' for his efforts since joining the CCF.

Stand tall and proud young man!

Wednesday 25 March 2009

Death is all around

At the moment it feels that we're surounded by death...but fortunately not quite touched by it.

Natasha Richardson was very sad, leaving two teen kids and a grieving husband. Having bought a ski helmet for the first time this year, after some twenty years on the slopes,I have become something of an evangelist on the subject. And it could have been so different for her if only she'd worn a helmet. In most resorts now they're fashionable as well as safe. So I hope that anyone who read about her untimely passing, and heads off to the slopes either buys or rents some brain protection. For the boy, it's been required ski wear since the moment he first strapped some wooden planks to his feet, and now it's second nature to him.

I didn't initially pay too much attention to to the disappearance of Jude Richmond her and disabled daughter Millie. It seemed a sad piece of news and there was a sense that the search would end in only one way (as indeed it has). However, the radio was on in the office, and the news team were interviewing the ex-husband. The voice was immediately recognisable to me, and so I checked the story out on the web. Sure enough, it was someone I used to work with and I well remember the trauma of Millie's birth. A sad start to life and a tragic end, but from what I know the bit in the middle was joyous.

Lastly, the death of the year is Jade Goody. Whilst I thought her celebrity status was the ultimate comment on the vacuousness of our celeb-culture, I can't help but feel for anyone who doesn't live beyond 27 years...and her two small children. Her funeral will take place at a church just 150 yards from our house, and curiously she was brought up in Bermondsey where my office is.

So Mr Grim Reaper, no more death for a little while please

Sunday 22 March 2009

Harsh Dad

I seem to be out of kilter with the parental norms here in deepest Essex.

A couple of years ago, whilst sitting in an Austrian bar, the parents of a 17 year-old were saying how difficult they were finding it to stop him smoking. "We just don't know how he can afford it" they chimed. At that moment he walks in, and is duly handed the 15 euros he asked for. I wonder what he spent them on?

Last night I was chatting to a fellow parent and mentioned that as the Boy's attention to schoolwork has slipped somewhat, he was banned from MSN until after the school trip to Sorrento. "Oh I don't think I could get away with that" she said.

The Boy has a mobile phone allowance, and if he goes over it, he has to pay me double what the phone company charges. It seems a good way to encourage him to keep a check on how many texts and minutes he has left. "What a good idea, I wish I could do that" said another parent recently.

The boy gets pocket money - paid monthly into his bank account. He can spend what's in the account and no more.

"They all go down Starbucks and have a coffee and muffin, and that's £5 gone. Still I wouldn't want to stop her, so I give her extra" was the conversation with another mum. Well if the boy's got £5 he can go, and if not he can't. I remember Grandma in Cyprus lecturing us about the value of money. I hope the boy learns young. After all when he's 18 he inherits a goodly chunk from his mum, and neither of us can afford it going to his head.

All his friends have quite elaborate birthday parties, to which the guests bring a card and a present. Strangely (I think) the present consists of £5 notes. One child managed to accumulate over £500 from his friends gifts. The boy is banned from that - I make him find a present that's right for the person, although I will allow a book token or iTunes voucher.

I wonder if I'm just a grumpy old Dad.