With Tom and Harry home from Cleveland and the Holland’s back to full strength, a recent evening was a simple affair and yet one for my fatherhood diary.
Not that it will endure for very long, I suspect. Not if first steps, words or even my boys births are anything to go by as my advancing years wreaks havoc with my memory.
And not such a momentous night anyway. Not a meal out for us all to a favourite eatery or a trip to the theatre. It wasn’t even all of us; just Tom, Harry, Sam and I and down to our local pub for a few beers. With Tessa also (our dog for new readers), while Nikki and Paddy stayed home and most likely argued over a film to watch and then settled on nothing I expect.
Not very long in the pub either. Only an hour or so - or two pints (nearing my limit, these days) but nonetheless, a poignant evening for me and for many reasons.
I spot some friends in the pub already who bid hello but don’t join us - which creates a sense of community and belonging, albeit this is undermined since because I now wonder why they hadn’t invited me?
The sense of occasion hinges on Tom and Harry’s long absence; away in the US making a film called Cherry. A departure for Tom’s acting career and an important film being directed by the Russo Brothers but even so, it is quickly recapped and dispensed with for golf travails and stories. The three of them taking their turn to recount golfing anecdotes in places far flung like Bali and China which I am happy to listen to and I don't bother countering. As always, Harry has to phone to hand – loaded with videos of his ‘stinger’ over water which he is determined we must all watch.
And it is Christmas as well, of course – that most wonderful time of the year. The one time of the year when practically all families reunite (with everything crossed) and hoping for the best.
Not to mention the end of the year, that is looming too. A time for reflection and a wistful look ahead. The annual watershed for us all. The new start. The new you and the new me. All very exciting and eventually, so disappointing and familiar.
The pub was quiet and Tom was not bothered by anyone. No photos or even the odd bemused look. An upside to his unusual haircut, perhaps? Just a dad then and his three boys having a quiet beer and catching up.
‘Shall we have another one?’ Someone asks, Tom, I think, but I’m not so keen and Harry too, is dubious. Jet lagged and out of golf videos to share, no doubt. A sedate ending then to a lovely evening and my favourite part is yet to come.
I go to the bar and I pick up our tab – surely, the job of any self-respecting dad?
Even though, at least two of these sons of mine have significant means of their own, but letting them pay would feel wrong and might even have ruined things for me.
And somehow my boys must have picked up on this as well - and presumably why none of them even blinking well offered!
BUY ONE OF MY BOOKS
BOOK ME FOR A LOCAL GIG
SUBSCRIBE TO MY NEWSLETTER