Now we're all back home again, safe, sound and slightly damp in the shadow of the North Yorkshire Moors. The boys have finished their island hopping and I went to pick them up and stay for a few days with El Vel and Sean. Lurch stayed behind and threw himself into a work frenzy.
I was brought up on an island off the coast of Kent. From a very early age I used to proclaim to anyone who'd listen that I would leave that goddamn small town one day and never return. I don't know why I felt so strongly because I now realise what a great place it was to grow up in, too many Jackie magazines, probably, and a deep unfulfilled desire to be a family member of The Brady Bunch and live in America.
Once I had left 'the island' as all natives call it, I remember meeting somebody at a society wedding in London who expressed great admiration for the fact that I'd 'managed to get orf!'. Praise indeed. Anyway revisiting 'the island' was fabulous and we went to the beach every day where the boys enjoyed walking through the mud flats, throwing mud at each other and trying to skim the rocks that form the main part of the beach.
El Vel and Sean, or I should really say El Vel, had imposed a strict regime, as I knew they would. DB and TT weren't allowed upstairs at the same time, except to sleep - result = zero fighting. They weren't allowed any sweets most of the time but could have ice creams if they ate half a ton of Grandpa's home grown beans and some fruit - result = no more runny nose for The Terminator, a consequence of his normal vitamin deficiency when I'm in charge.
There were only a couple of incidents. The Terminator, unable to contain his chavtastic nature completely, stood with his back to a beach jam packed with London taxi drivers on holiday, dropped his swim shorts and yelled out 'Is my moon shining!'. El Vel was not amused and dragged him up the beach to sit it out for half an hour's 'reflection time'. They had also been taken for a haircut in the barber's and El Vel had to confiscate 'Nuts' magazine from Danny Boy when he showed The Terminator a 40DD stunna! accompanied by the enthusiastic exclamation 'nice hooters!'. I blamed Lurch. El Vel says she has a reputation to maintain on 'the island' but, on the whole, was very pleased with them.
On the way home I met up with four of my former schoolfriends from The Convent, we are most probably going to the reunion, followed by a big night out. One of them runs a pub, one is an artist-in-residence, one works for BA and the other works in a maternity ward. They are all single parents and two of them have sons on the autistic spectrum. I cannot believe how hard things have been for them and how much they've had to fight for their sons not to be expelled from a succession of schools. They have all faced difficult legal battles but seeing them was just the same as it used to be twenty years ago and we were screaming with laughter for most of the afternoon. A lovely summer so far...