From Bing to the Black Death

From Bing to the Black Death

I have various recollections of being genuinely scared by things when I was a child. After seeing Jaws on TV in 1981, I remember leaping from the bedroom door to the safety of my bed – pronking like a springbok – because in my seven-year-old mind, the blue carpet was ‘the sea’. (And Quint’s gruesome death has always stayed with me.)

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A skeleton staff of knights

A skeleton staff of knights

“What is a knight without a sword? This isn’t a riddle, by the way; this is a serious point. A knight without a sword is just a bloke clattering around a castle in cumbersome armour, sounding like a looped recording of a drunk trying to climb out of a builder’s skip full of venetian blinds. He may as well cart a plinth around the bailey all day, wowing children with a human statue routine, while occasionally retreating to the garderobe to daydream forlornly of battles he will never fight and quests he will never embark upon!”

At this point, a hand rests gently on my shoulder and I’m helped back into my seat. “We’re just doing a round of introductions first,” says the group leader, as everyone in the healing circle looks on sympathetically at my puce, irate face. I quietly apologise to the group and return a lady’s umbrella, which I’d rudely snatched and held aloft.

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I have a son…and I’m writing about it. Sorry.

I have a son…and I’m writing about it. Sorry.

You have to believe me: I never planned to write anything about becoming a father. I’ve obviously written the obligatory Facebook post, in which I efficiently announced my son’s arrival and immediate retirement from social media, but I didn’t want to dribble on about it too much. It was my brother-in-law’s recent admission that he can’t really remember anything about the very early months of his sons’ lives that prompted me to scribble down some thoughts. Both he and my sister claimed that these first few gruelling weeks of fatherhood will eventually be purged from my mind in order to make the thought of having a second child seem like a good idea. So I’m writing this now before the last few weeks of my life disappear down the memory hole.

So here’s the abridged version from the beginning.

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