Sunday, 30 August 2009

Life's a lido

Tucked into a quiet corner of Tooting Common is a beautiful, sprawling mass of life and Britishness; dads reading sports pages, mums reading fashion pages, babies sleeeping, kids screaming, teenagers checking each other out, grown-ups checking out teenagers they probably shouldn't be, dropped ice creams melting into cartons of chips, cans of Stella snuck past lackadaisical security guards. It's all there.

A family flies past, leaping one by one off the side of the pool, each striking a diffferent pose in mid-air before crashing into the water; slim kids diving, fat kids bellyflopping, Luca taking in the scene with cool indifference.
On the way there I explained to Mum why the country was so gripped by a fear of England not winning the Ashes, despite being in a position where it is almost impossible to lose. I know precious little about cricket, but I don't want to miss anything, so I kept checking the score on my phone. Mum was unmoved.

We found a spot next to another young family. They looked cool. We remembered when we might have conceivably looked cool, then we noticed a pram behind them, from which they eventually pulled a screaming one-year-old. Excellent.

In between increasingly frantic attempts to calm the angry baby, he was explaining to his wife that Australia needed to score more runs than any team ever has in a second innings.

"So how can England lose?" she asks tiredly.

"It's England. They always find a way to lose."

A few hours later another dad, flanked by rampaging toddler and weirdly thoughtful eight-year-old, is staring dreamily at his phone and explaining to his family that England really have won the Ashes. They don't care.

On the way home I go to the shop to get the Guardian and milk. There's two people ahead of me in the queue, and they are both buying the Guardian and milk.

When I was younger, I fancied I was bit different from the rest, a bit special, that life should and could have more glory in store for me than most. Years later, with my new family in a sun-soaked lido, I realise that we're essentially all the same.

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Leaving Luca

I'm back! You didn't notice I was gone? Fine, whatever.

Lots going on recently. Luca had his first babysitters while me and mum went for dinner and a film. Or, more accurately, we talked about him, worried about him and constantly texted the babysitters, while dinner and a film went on in the background.

I had butterflies in my stomach from the moment we left the house. It was pathetic. Poor little thing, we thought, he's going to be lost without us. Not so. Apparently chilling at home with two young ladies isn't so bad after all. Vic and Sonia, respec'.

There's been all kinds of unfatherly things going on recently: a beautifully drunken and silly stag trip and a full week away from the boy while him and Mum were visiting Auntie in Edinburgh.

I'm not going to say a week of having no responsibilities wasn't fun. It was brilliant. But I am going to swallow my macho pride and say I missed my little clan something horrible.

If you're a new dad, and worried about what you're missing out on, have a week off. Drink, have poker nights, watch endless football, whatever does it for you.

After a week of this, you will be sick of drinking, sick of yourself, and have a whole new perspective on just how good family life really is. It's the old "So you wanna smoke boy? Well you're not coming out of that closet till you've chuffed all 200 of those dried out Lambert & Butlers, then see how you like smoking."

Well I'm out of the closet, so to speak. Bye bye bachelor week, hello family, I could get used to this.