Tuesday, 13 June 2017


Walking from Grantchester to Cambridge on the weekend, I saw a little boy with large, boxy spectacles, a pudding bowl haircut and a sweetly impish face. He was sitting on a bench, swinging his legs. There was a man beside him, smoking a cigarette and looking faintly uncomfortable.

As I drew near, the boy turned to the man.

"So why did you marry her?" he asked.

The man's eyes met mine for an instant and then he looked away.

"Because she was your mother," he said, eventually.

The boy looked thoughtful, maybe even puzzled. I didn't blame him. It wasn't much of an answer.

But, when you think about it, it wasn't an easy question, particularly if, as I suspect, the boy's father was no longer married to the boy's mother. "Because I loved her"?, "Because I thought I loved her"?

"Do you want an ice cream?" might have been the best answer, I reckon. But that speaks volumes about my cowardly approach to parenting.


  1. Depending on dates, that could be a brutally honest answer, better saved up a couple of decades or never uttered.

    I should think that parents would have to reach a notably intransigent state of opposition before such a question would occur to one of their children. Heaven help the boy.

    1. He was a dear little boy - I hope he'll be all right