The entreaty of German playwright Goethe that “to accept good advice is but to increase one’s ability” has a special resonance for a child who is beginning to learn how to act.
One of the unique delights of doing this kind of thing is that your offspring can find themselves sharing a screen with some pretty big names who really know their onions and, sometimes, they’re happy to pass on a piece of their accumulated wisdom.
I have a very important bit of shopping to do this weekend – for the first time ever I’m buying an iron.
We do possess an iron (inherited from someone) though its present whereabouts are unclear – I used it once, under duress, in 2002 to get something ready for a christening and my tiny son pointed in wonder at this previously unseen bit of domestic kit and asked: “what’s that?”.
That same son is now 16 and rocking a This Is England look which necessitates pristinely-pressed shirts and trousers – so a new iron will be purchased on the strict understanding that he is its chief operator – I want no part of it.
Have you ever felt jealous of Ann Widdecombe? It’s not an emotion I ever expected to experience but after a bit of Netflix surfing the other day we settled on Louis Theroux’s 2002 documentary about a pre-Strictly Ann.
It wasn’t her 24/7 proximity to Louis or her political career which prompted the arrival of the green-eyed monster but the way her nonagenarian mum Rita looked on while Ann repeatedly admonished Louis, her face bearing that singularly motherly devoted and indulgent gaze.
And it struck me like a physical blow: quite apart from the fact that my mum and I will never go whale-spotting and fjord-hopping like Ann and Rita – I hadn’t been on the receiving end of one of those glances for more than 25 years.
My mother Julia and I had what can be euphemistically termed a complicated history and when she died – when I was barely into my 20s – we hadn’t spoken properly for a few years.
She left my father when I was 13, bisecting our family neatly and irreversibly down the middle, taking my younger brother and sister with her leaving my father with his own pigeon pair, my older brother and me. All this prompted I now see, with the utterly futile benefit of hindsight, prompted by a complete breakdown in her mental health.