It’s been an interesting two weeks with my boys. Deminimus, who is five, started at big school, and only lost his new red cap twice. The Lawyer, who is 40 this year, spent the fortnight completing a huge power station construction deal in London and lost just about everything – temper, thread, glasses and, most unfortunately, the support of his team. I later learned that while I was escorting a solemn and only slightly trembling five-year-old to the new school gates, the Lawyer was letting his nerves get the better of him on the train to London, and was heard screaming for the coffee trolley to visit the First Class passengers first, for a change.
His team calmed him down but then failed to excel in the stampede for taxis at the other end and had to put up with a sulking boss looking pointedly at his watch all the way to the first meeting.
During his first lunchtime, Deminimus shared his ham and tomato sandwiches with a charming little boy called Douglas, whose mother is obviously a soft touch because she’d given him peanut butter and strawberry jam. Meanwhile the Lawyer, who was reaching for the last bread roll before his junior snared it, managed to knock his salmon hollandaise into his lap. Unable to locate the nearest Gieves and Hawkes (uncannily deprived, from being in the City, of his normal keen sense of fine tailoring), he dispatched the junior to Marks & Sparks for a replacement suit, and spent the afternoon in agony because he’d distractedly quoted a waist measurement from the very distant past.
By this time, Deminimus had learned that ties are really for inflicting red welts on the back of people’s calves and that the end frays if you flick them for long enough. He also learned that a biro, if treated really roughly, will leave a huge blue stain seeping out from the pocket of your new blazer, so father and son finished the day fairly even on that score.
Towards the end of his first week, Deminimus had made a new circle of friends who, it appears, talk endlessly about meteors and supernovae. By the end of his, Daddy had fallen out with every single one of the opposing team and most of his own, through talking endlessly about the risk of meteors landing on power stations in mainland China and who would cover it.
Deminimus spent the weekend playing with Douglas, whose mother is definitely a soft touch because he’s got junior Nikes. I see trouble ahead. The Lawyer spent the weekend lying on the sofa moaning, a damp cloth laid over his forehead. He went back to London on the Monday, girded for combat with a rewritten contract, while I sent Deminimus to his first rugby lesson armed only with plimsoles. Of course, it was the Lawyer I should have been worrying about. He managed to break his glasses in a clash of heads at the water cooler and spent the evening watching his hotel room TV from a distance of five inches while his grumbling assistant laboured through the contract clause by clause next door.
Deminimus scored two tries and a place in the junior school team (having Subjudice for a sister makes you fleet of foot), and ended the week with a gold star from his form teacher. The Lawyer limped home, bruised and shamefaced on Friday night, having conceded just about everything possible. Deminimus asked him for help with his homework, a drawing of “What my parents do during the day”. “Draw this,” he said wearily, knocking his head against the table, “Draw this.”