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It had been hot and humid that week and we were building up to a thunderstorm while I sat around in the delivery room, waiting and completely powerless.
In August 1991 I was temping (in the London offices of Chevron, I think) having just had a big piece of work cancelled (the legal case I was working on got settled suddenly before it went to court) That situation went on for about a year until I went to university which took 4 years, worked for one employer for nearly 7 years and now been self-employed for 5 years.
The world feels enormously different – I had a vague knowledge but no experience of BBS’s at the time, but if I’d heard of the internet, I certainly never thought I’d live and work there My job now, whatever it is, just didn’t exist and neither did the sorts of companies I work with. It was a couple of years later when I’d got a JANET account that I first saw the pre-mosaic WWW running in a terminal window.
I remember buying a paper in the hospital and seeing that there was some sort of coup attempt going on in the Soviet Union. After Ewan arrived I went down to a payphone and called the various branches of the family, I can’t remember taking many photos, but there are a handful in a drawer somewhere.
How weird. Newspapers, payphones, no digital photography, Soviet Union.
He was a fine boy and now he’s turning into a fine young man. Recently he’s started cooking for himself, asking me for hints and tips in the kitchen and how to use the washing machine Now he can apply for a National Insurance number, get a job (and be on the lowest level of minimum wage), get married (with consent from his parents), and, you know, all the rest.
He plays bass guitar and next month is starting at the Academy of Contemporary Music in Guildford.
I love him to bits.
Happy Birthday Dude!
“Dad, what’s aspirin?”
“It’s a painkiller – for headaches and stuff”
“OK…is it strong?”
[suspicion rising] “Yes, sort of but it doesn’t work for some people and others are allergic to it. People also use paracetamol and ibuprofen”
“Uh-huh, so you can still get it”
[now worried, can see coke & aspirin experiments when friends come round later today] “Yes, you can get it over the counter from a chemist, why? Have you got a headache..?”
“No… it’s just there’s a drunk in my book”
“What your Stephen King book?” [anger towards Surrey Libraries and their liberal attitudes to lending to minors – guilt for my own liberal attitudes, I said it was OK and now my son's experimenting with drugs at 13 – where will it all end?]
“No Dad, my book – you know…. and there’s a drunk and he’s got a hangover and I want to know what he’d take for it”
[Wild relief combined with heart-piercing guilt that I've forgotten that he's writing a book. Well not forgotten so much as put it out of mind, assuming that as I hadn't heard about it in six months it had gone the same way as many of my books/blogs/sparkling careers, started with enthusiasm and ditched when the going got tough or some new sparkly thing came my way.]
Dad leaves for work, heart now bursting with pride in his son, the 13 year-old sure-to-be-Booker-prize-winning-novelist.