MAN’S WORLD: Early mornings – miles to go and promises to keep

Robert Frost
Robert Frost
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I woke my wife up at 6.30 on Sunday morning.

Not a sensible career move.

Fortunately it wasn’t my fault. I could blame Tom and Jessica.

You may be reading this on your iPad. Lying in bed. Nice and warm – but silently cursing that very shortly you have to get up, get cold and drive your lovely children somewhere.

Yep. Been there, done that. I once spent an entire Saturday afternoon criss-crossing the town in a bewildering mix of football, martial arts, ballet and birthday parties.

My wife – as I recall – had wisely decided to have flu. I must have done 50 miles – and I spent the evening complaining at great length.

Little did I know. I was just a beginner. A rank amateur.

Because on Sunday morning we had – as the poet said – miles to go and promises to keep.

Specifically, promises to our two eldest children.

“So you’re going back on Friday, Tom?”

“Yeah.” Tom was going back to university a week early so he could go on the skiing trip.

“And you’re going on Friday as well?”

“Yep.” Jessica was also going back a week early. No, not a skiing trip. And not to revise either.

She had a party to go to. Priorities, gentle reader.

And so they left. With the luggage they needed. And an apologetic shrug.

“We can’t carry any more. Not on the train. Sorry.”

Inevitably, there was only one solution.

I scribbled a note to Ben and tiptoed nervously upstairs to tell my wife her new career as a delivery driver was due to start.

She mumbled something. Fortunately I didn’t catch it.

We reached Tom’s just in time to take him out for a late breakfast. “A full English,” my son said.

Excellent, I thought, eyeing up his plate. No way will he eat that black pudding. It’ll just go nicely with my poached eggs.

But university has changed our son.

The wretched boy left the black pudding until last, clearly determined to torment me.

Then he stuck it ruthlessly into his mouth and told us he was off to see The Hobbit.

“See you at Easter,” we said.

“Probably not,” he said. “Staying here to work. The exams are straight after the holidays.”

“Right then.” We made a mental note to rent his room and set off up the A1.

Two and half hours to Jessica.

I’d never seen my daughter’s house before. We went in at the back door.

Quite straightforward, once we’d climbed over the pile of empty bottles. An impressive collection, even by her mother’s standards.

And then I saw it. In the corner of the lounge. Just behind the vodka bottles.

Someone had made a model from a child’s drawing of an alien.

A large black head. With six green arms coming out of it. A thin silver body.

“What is that, Jessica?”

“Isn’t it obvious?”

“Yes, of course it is. That’s why I’m asking you.”

“It’s a funnel.” I looked again.

Was my beloved daughter suggesting that beer was poured in at the top and she – and her friends – then took a green arm each and had... drinking competitions?

Was it possible that she hadn’t been spending all her spare time in the library?

No, of course it wasn’t.

Jessica was obviously looking after it for someone else...

“Blimey,” I said as we finally pulled into our drive.

“What a day. We could probably have driven to Land’s End.”

“Don’t be ridiculous,” my wife said.

And so I checked. Home to Land’s End, 475 miles. Delivering to Tom and Jessica, 485 miles.

As I said – drive your children across town? Enjoy it while you can...