Tuesday, August 28, 2007


On Thursday, I drove to Aberdyfi in mid-Wales to meet Alex and his grandpa. Friday morning would see grandpa officially hand over the little man, and Alex’ great big summer adventure would continue with he and I driving down to the Brecon Beacons to meet up with friends for a weekend of camping.

On Thursday evening, grandpa took a stroll with the promise of meeting us on the pier - with ice-creams. So, with a line, a weight, a couple of hooks and a bag of ‘butcher’s bits’, Alex shared some of his new-found skills with me.

Shane: So you’re gonna show me what to do, yeah?
Alex: Yeah.

Soon after:

Shane: We’re doing well aren’t we?
Alex: Yeah – grandy (grandpa) and me are professionals – we caught forty last night!
Shane: Wow – that’s properly professional.
Alex: Yeah.
Shane: Maybe my fishmonger friend will pay us some money for them if we catch some really big ones.
Alex: (thinks) No, I don’t think so. You don’t have any fishmonger friends.
Shane: I do.
Alex: (pause) No you don’t.

A little later:

We were doing well. Onlookers marvelled at the tiny boy’s proficiency, fellow crabbers eyed us with envy, a gaggle of young women swooned at Shane’s easy buddy-style parenting. Soon, grandpa hoved into view with two honey-flavoured ice creams.

Alex: (shouting) Grandy! Shane’s got crabs! Loads of them!

Still facing the water, I distinctly heard the sound of young women tittering. I did not turn around, I concentrated on my fictional fishmonger.

Monday, August 20, 2007


A post in which amateur meteorology is at the fore:

Shane: Look, I think we should still have a crack at it – yes, it’s meant to be wet and misty and horrible, but you know what it’s like – small break in the clouds, then fifteen minutes later we’ve the majestic mountain ahead of us and it’s tops off for top-up tan-time. What do you say?
Emma: (thinks) (frowns) Ok. Let’s do it!

And later, glorying in a haze of mountaineering achievement:

Emma: Bit wet that, wasn’t it.
Shane: (wringing water from pants) Mm.

Thursday, August 16, 2007


As Alex added a motorway extension to our chalked Treasure Island (on the patio), Emma and I ate pie:

Emma: You haven’t said much about the weekend.
Shane: Did I miss something?
Emma: No, but I thought you’d be scrutinising Ken and Ellie, what with their…
Shane: With their…?
Emma: Well, she clearly likes him.
Shane: I like him.
Emma: (pause) You trying to tell me something?
Shane: No. I’m just saying that I don’t think there’s much more than liking going on.
Emma: (raises eyebrow)
Shane: What?
Emma: I think you underestimate them.
Shane: So I did miss something.
Emma: I think she’s being cautious –
Shane: How uncharacteristic.
Emma: Don’t be a shit – she explained the holiday romance well. I thought she was candid without being superficial.
Shane: It was wince-inducing.
Emma: Just cos you’re all closed up about that sort of thing.
Shane: What sort of thing?
Emma: Hmm, like any mention of past relationships?
Shane: That holiday ‘romance’ was no more a relationship than…
Emma: Than what?
Shane: Than… Actually, forget that – what do you want to hear about my past relationships?
Emma: Nothing.
Shane: Then, you should be perfectly happy.
Emma: You’re wilfully misunderstanding me now.
Shane: No, I’m just not getting your point.
Emma: Are you trying to turn this into an argument?
Shane: No, but it would appear that we’re heading in that direction.
Emma: Well when you’ve finished eating that, be sure to throw the plate at yourself.
Shane: Ok, will do.
Emma: My point!... Is that I think they’re feeling each other out.
Shane: Not with the weekend’s sleeping arrangements they weren’t.
Emma: (unimpressed 'look') I think it goes for Ken too.
Shane: I think you’re wrong. I think he thinks he likes her, and that he finds her interesting and a bit enigmatic, but that’s it.
Emma: She's ‘seriously attractive’.
Shane: Are you quoting?
Emma: He may have mentioned something of that nature… for me to not-so-accidentally pass-on.
Shane: The arse! I assume you haven’t ‘passed it on’.
Emma: Not directly.
Shane: (pause, thinking) No – I’m not getting involved in passing love notes between anyone.
Emma: No, you clown, I mentioned it to Lily.
Shane: Oh. And?
Emma: She smiled.
Shane: And?
Emma: She has hopes for them. She thinks Ken would be good for Ellie, and we all saw that he seemed to get on well with Ryan.
Shane: Bloody hell – that sounds a bit thought-through.
Emma: Mm, not a bad thing.
Shane: No, no. (pause) Should I warn Ken of this… thinking?
Emma: Just remind him that there’s a kid involved.
Shane: Mm.
Emma: And for what it’s worth – possibly a lot, Lily is ‘one hundred per cent sure’ that Ellie would say ‘yes’ to him asking her out on a date.
Shane: A date - bit old-fashioned, isn’t it.
Emma: (shrugs) Maybe. But I had a feeling that Lily was speaking for Ellie.
Shane: Oh, right. (pause) Oh right-.
Emma: Mm.
Shane: So he’s in then.
Emma: It would appear that we’re heading in that direction.

I have chosen to not pass the details of this conversation to Ken. On this occasion, with a child-shaped addition to the equation, I think it’s important that my favourite oaf (and Ellie) show that they can determine their own pathway/s without the need for intervention.

I have faith in them... No really, I do.

Now, with an ache, I am off to bed… biking injury:

Alex: (looking down unfeasibly steep slope) Go on, Shane, you can make it if you go sideways a bit.

Had a go. Failed. It hurt. . . .

Also my fear for Ellie/Ryan/Ken.

Sunday, August 05, 2007


Sometimes, you’re actually behind when you think you’re ahead:

Shane: Ken’s coming up next weekend.
Emma: Yeah – Lily said he might.
Shane: Lily said he might?
Emma: Yeah – she’s visiting too. I told her that she could bring her sister and the boy, if she liked. Alex can entertain him.
Shane: Wh-
Emma: She jumped at the idea – ‘Summer Holidays Effect’ – glad to get out of the house and all that.
Shane: But, I thought the sister lived in Cambridge?
Emma: Why should that be a problem – three hours maximum – travel at the right time of day and they might even blitz it in two and a half. They can all have the bunks in Alex’ room, Alex can come in with us, and Ken can have the sofa-bed – sorted!
Shane: (pause) Sorted.
Emma: Has he seen any more of, er, Ellie?
Shane: Mm?
Emma: Ken – has he seen any more of Ellie since her trip?
Shane: Er, no, I don’t think so. But they do email and do stuff through Facebook.
Emma: Of course they do – ye-es, she’s listed as one of his friends. I knew I’d seen the name somewhere.
Shane: Mm.
Emma: You alright?
Shane: I think so.
Emma: You’re awfully quiet.
Shane: Mm. I… I just have the feeling that I’m missing something.
Emma: What do you mean?
Shane: The mass landing all of a sudden – it’s all a bit… sudden. And how come I’m the last to find out that it’s all happening?
Emma: You’ve been busy. You just get your work done and look forward to the weekend – it’ll be good.
Shane: Mm.

I have mixed feelings about next weekend. It seems completely obvious that something is afoot - something that features the old romantic himself, not to mention a desirable young woman... oh, mon dieu.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007


Efforts towards social and family engineering take many varied forms:

Alex: Shane, when are you gonna get married?
Shane: (thinks) Oh, I don’t know – not everyone gets married, y’ know.
Alex: No, but I think you should.
Shane: Ok. Thank you for that.
Alex: I think you should.
Shane: Yes, ok.
Alex: (pause) Well?
Shane: Well what?
Alex: When are you gonna get married?
Shane: I don’t know – why?
Alex: Cos I think when you do, mummy should wear a crown, and I will too.
Shane: Why? Are you gonna marry her?
Alex: No – you are.
Shane: Oh, right, yeah. But, if Emma and Alex are wearing crowns, what will I wear?
Alex: (thinks) Right, because, mummy will be the queen and I will be the king – so we have to wear crowns.
Shane: So I don’t get a crown?
Alex: (thinks) Yeah – you can have a crown too.
Shane: Good. But, if you’re the king and mummy’s the queen, what will I be?
Alex: (thinks) (laughs) You can be the princess!
Shane: (amused) Then I think you’d be talking about a civil partnership.
Alex: What?
Shane: Doesn’t matter.

And there, you have something a little more sophisticated than others’ efforts towards social and family engineering.