Richard Ord: The scooter of adventure

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OUR eight-year-old is planning to run away from home.

My wife and I are not meant to know, it’s our Isaac’s secret plan. We only discovered his secret plan by chance.

It was written out in full on two pieces of A4 on his bedroom desk. Not exactly in the George Smiley league of secrecy, our Isaac. Short of being headed Isaac’s Secret Plan, it was a bit of a giveaway to be honest, as was his conversation.

“How would you and dad feel,” he asked my wife, “if you went into my room on a night-time and I wasn’t there?”

My wife, aware of his escape plan, launched into a full-blown horror story of how she would be terrified because he may be out on the streets alone to be preyed upon by horrible strangers, dangerous dogs and other wild creatures of the night. I think she may have thrown in a vampire or two just for good measure.

He shrugged his shoulders. “Just wondered,” he said.

What I loved about his neatly drawn up plan was the innocent detail.

At this point I must point out his desire to run away is nothing to do with us (I hope) and more to do with his bedtime reading.

Enid Blyton’s Adventure series is to blame. For the past few weeks we’ve been working our way through these tales of a bunch of young children and their talking parrot Kiki getting into unlikely scrapes, invariably in forests.

I think we’ve done The Island of Adventure, The Castle of Adventure, The Valley of Adventure and have just begun The Sea of Adventure.

My favourite character is Bill Smuggs. Purely for the name. As a character he’s exactly the sort of person you’d keep your kids away from.

Last night he appeared hiding in the children’s garden while their mother was asleep. He proceeded to wrestle one to the ground in the dead of night, tie him up and gag him. Apparently someone’s out to murder him.

Naturally, the children’s mother agreed to let him take them on a ‘birdwatching’ adventure for a couple of weeks. As you do.

Anyway, our Isaac has clearly got a taste for this and he and his pal Romy have been drawing up their escape plan.

The plan is well thought out and consists of lists under various headings.

Under the title Problems he has, in this order:

1. Who will look after the rabbit.

2. Parents will get ANGRY.

3. We need a light.

Not sure how I feel about being number two to a rabbit.

As with anyone embarking on an adventure into the great unknown he has all bases covered. These come under Things We Have To Do.

These are:

Make a bed and shelter out of anything you find

Go to the shops to have the toilet.

There’s also a section called Bad Problems. Chief of these seems to be

How are we going to cook the fish?

Fish? In a forest! It becomes clearer further down the list. He writes: “If we go to Sainsbury’s, because we don’t have any mums or dads with us, we might get told off by the security guard.”

Presumably as they head to the fish counter.

After his mother’s scare story I assumed his plans would be scrapped. Not so.

Yesterday I woke up at 6am to find him on the computer. He was on Google. The words ‘Forests in Whitley Bay’ had been typed in.

“Aren’t there any forests in Whitley Bay?” he asked, exasperated

“Not that I’m aware of,” I said and headed off to the shower. When I returned to get ready for work, the screen was filled with photographs of woodland.

“How long would it take to walk to the North West?” he now asked. He’d clearly found a forest somewhere near Manchester.

“Walk to the North West?” I replied. “It’d take weeks. It’s hundreds of miles away you know.”

He thought for a second or two before replying: “How long if I was on my scooter?”

Hmm, Scooter of Adventure … I fear we may not have heard the last of Isaac’s secret plan.