I’ve Nailed it……

Alfie 1st day of Secondary School

There is no more I can do.

Alfie left school today and with that momentous achievement, moved inexorably towards his future life in the Royal Navy. Charlotte and I have got him through his school years.

The final child of three, Alfie has been by far the easiest to drag through those years of schooling as he not only embodies sporting prowess, he also ‘nailed’ and ‘aced’ every exam he has worked hard for. In fact, every test and exam has warranted one of those comments as he left the exam hall, even though in the earlier years he failed dismally which just drove him to work harder and do better.

The conversation with the school following his entrance exam to get into the Grammar stream went something like this…

Alfie: I nailed it!

Head of year: You failed Alfie…

Alfie: Have I told you about my charitable work…?

Result! Get in! And so followed five years of working hard for excellent results in the selective side of his school. He has never taken getting good results as a given. And I for one am very proud of his determination to succeed. It will stand him in very good stead when faced with whatever life throws at him.

It was five years ago when I instructed him on how to conquer the fears of public speaking. He was due to give a five minute talk at our Canterbury Cathedral 30 Years Remembrance Service, following the Ukrainian nuclear power plant disaster in 1986, concerning his ambassador work for Chernobyl Children’s Lifeline and his work in Ukraine. For a young lad, he was obviously quite nervous, standing before hundreds of guests and charged with expounding eloquently. 

Anyone who was there I’m sure remembers his clear delivery of what he wanted to convey concerning his visitation to the area of Ukraine that Charlotte and I work in and also the people he was able to meet and help. He was well prepared for sure. His script had been deliberated over and honed to his specification. He then recorded himself, listened to what he was saying, how he was talking and fine tuned his delivery so that when he stood for those five minutes (which, as I told him in no uncertain terms, wouldn’t kill him and life would go on after he had finished the task that he had been charged with) he was succinct and concise and totally unforgettable. Proud father? I should say so! 

Canterbury Cathedral 2016

Our eldest rang last night in a state of apoplectic excitement. She was trying to ring Charlotte as well who was on a late night work call and couldn’t take the call from Harriet…..so I did.

What joy to hear that she had been banned from the local Wetherspoons establishment for not having appropriate age related ID. I’m sure there was a lot more to it as she has never been one to keep her opinions to herself.

Evidently nothing like French France as you wouldn’t dare leave home without a ream of paperwork and ID card firmly within your grasp. It reminds me of that film, The Great Escape, with Steve McQueen where they all needed forged papers to travel anywhere…now when anyone who is French speaks to me here in English I make sure I respond in French! (Like when I was booking a Covid-safe haircut earlier in the week!)

Papers to prove the vehicle you’re driving is yours. Papers to prove the trailer your towing is yours. Residency Permit. 

No, Harriet who is 23, has been evicted from a pub for not having paperwork proving her age. What it must be like to look so young. 

Eldest and Youngest

And on that note, I must check all the oil paintings in the loft to make sure the bandit mice haven’t been nibbling on them! 

Blessed with youthful genes. No one would believe any of us are as old as we are and being ‘retired’ has raised more than a few eyebrows. 

But back to our youngest. Charlotte and I avoided getting ‘Bad Parent of the Year Awards’ for this one (unlike Harriet whose ability to make us eligible year after year never ceased to amaze me (for which she will be undoubtedly personally well proud of)). Heaven knows why we didn’t receive any awards for Alfie as he had his fair share of getting into scrapes and less than desirable situations, but somehow must have learnt the lesson of avoidance! E&E. Escape and Evade capture. Again lessons learned that will help him in his military career! Much like his ‘kit inspections’ that I’d give him when he was 4 years old. Five minutes to make his room neat and tidy. “STAND BY YOUR BEDS” I roared from the floor below and although Harriet and George suffered in silence, Alfie lapped it up as I turfed over his mattress, finding a minor infringement and giving him another five minutes to sort it out again! There really was only one career for this lad, if I had half a chance. 

Tonight he is out on the tiles with others of his year who have left school, ‘letting his hair down’. Heaven help us all! He has been given telephone numbers to call if needed and Charlotte is on ‘standby’ for emergency extraction should the event arise. 

On the whole though, apart from the noxious odours emanating from him on a regular occurrence, (that drove out our good friend Barry to seek solace within his vehicle rather than continue fitting the central heating system), Alfie hasn’t done bad. 

I think we can safely say that as long as no irate father comes to our door brandishing a baseball bat over some impropriety caused to his daughter, we have done our job! Job done. #thatsanotherjobjobbed

Life can be scary

For which we can be eternally thankful. 

All three children are off and on their way in life. With every lesson we can think of taught to them so they have no excuse, save it was their own fault! 

I think it’s time I wrote a will…

Carry on regardless!


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