There is a man in a smart cream suit with matching hat pacing the beach. He looks strange, indeed, among the canoeists in their wet-suits and other assorted beach-types making the most of the late afternoon sun.
Mr B and I have brought Our Boy Jack down to the beach to enjoy one of our favourite pastimes – a fish ‘n’ chip supper by the sea. Fortunately for me, Jack
is, like his Nan, Always Thinking of His Stomach and perfectly happy with any activity which involves food. In fact, our young guest is turning out to be very easy to please, bless him.
I thought long and hard about the penguin on the door-step – and finally decided against it. When Jack arrived, he was literally pumping the air at the thought that finally – finally! – I had realised that he
was grown-up. (Regular readers will remember that young visitors to our house are always greeted by the Large Penguin on the doorstep, dressed up and ready for fun. My sister is always extremely upset if I forget to put the penguin out for her
visits. Some people never grow up.)
It’s very different having a teenage grandson as a house guest, rather than a tiny one. Jack has not (so far) taken all
the CDs out of their tower and strewn them round the room and he has been very tidy about his eating habits. I think we are going to get along famously. He discusses football with Mr B and knows what he is talking about. He laments Andy’s
spectacular failing along with us. We watch a film and Celebrity Masterchef in companionable silence and the bedtime routine doesn’t involve squirty toys in the bath or bedtime stories. Though he did appreciate the hot chocolate drink – one left
over treat from the childhood days which he was happy to retain.
Of course Jack has been a frequent visitor at our house – but always in the company of his
mother and sister. It is so lovely to have him all to ourselves for a few days. Hopefully he won’t emerge after a few days, scarred by the experience of life with the Aged Grandparents. At least it should be a rest, after all the trials of GCSEs.
If anybody deserves a break, it’s Our Boy Jack.
Down on the beach, I take a photograph of Jack and his Grandad eating their fish and chips. I am determined
to have a photographic record of Jack’s stay. This ambition is hampered the fact that I can’t find my camera so am having to resort to the Us-Pad which is a bit bulky for the beach. Jack submits to having his photo taken with good grace.
We watch the man in the cream suit and hat, trying - without success - to work out what he is doing and why he is there. Two young cyclists come careering past us, leaping
onto the adjacent bench in dare-devil fashion before sweeping past us. Mr B purses his lips but - perhaps mindful of his young grandson's presence - refrains from comment. Several dogs, of various shapes and sizes, approach us. It may be the smell of
the fish and chips, but I believe it's because cats and dogs do seem to know instinctively that Jack is an animal lover. We discuss the relative merits of dogs and cats and the fact that his father and sister are mounting a “Let’s Have a Dog!”
campaign. I tell him about my favourite dog, Annie the Labradoodle (who keeps my sister and brother in law in order)and how she used to sit on my foot and lean her whole warm body against my leg. It was the most comforting feeling imaginable. A bit like
draping Pepsi, next door’s cat, round your neck, muses Jack. I can’t personally imagine myself draping Pepsi (who is a part Siamese cat with definite views of his own) round my neck but I agree with the sentiment.
A family of Dad, Mum and two children are hauling a boat out to sea. It looks like a very small boat for all four of them and I wonder aloud if they are all going in the boat
or just the two children who are appropriately attired in wet suits. We watch them to see if we can answer this important question. This is another thing I like about Jack; he is quite prepared to indulge me in my quests for answers to inconsequential
questions. The sea is going out so it’s a long trail down to the water for the family and I lose sight of them behind the rocky breakwater. Jack manages to keep them in his sights. “What can you see?” I ask him.
“Classic parenting!” observes Jack. I raise a quizzical eye-brow.
taking photographs...” he explains.
You can just tell that there speaks the voice of experience...