Mr B says that it is high time I sorted out my priorities.
I can’t help thinking that this is a trifle rich, coming
from one who knows very well that he is always top of my list of priorities. But, assuming positive intent, I realise that he isn’t referring to the major, but the minor - and, in his view, still vitally important - priorities.
Our current debate about our differing priorities concerns the Sunday newspaper which once again hasn’t been delivered. Mr B feels strongly that I should immediately scoot off to the newsagents
to collect it and deliver strong words to the staff there about the failure to deliver. I explain that I will certainly do this (probably omitting the strong words because I’m not one for confrontation unless it’s, well, a priority) once I have
finished my cup of coffee.
Mr B says that if I don’t head off now, as in immediately, I may turn up to find the newsagents shop has closed for the day. Bearing
in mind that they are clearly experiencing a shortage of paper boys and girls, it stands to reason that they may be falling short in other departments. I stick to my guns - if I leave now my coffee will be cold by the time I return and its recuperative powers
will be sorely diminished…
Mr B’s obsession with the daily newspaper is nothing new. On those far-off days when we were able to go on foreign holidays,
he would always be first in the hotel shop of a morning. While I would be counting up how many postcards I needed to send to friends and family back home or bewailing the fact that the sun cream on sale is so very much more expensive that the tubes I mistakenly
forgot to pack - he will be paying out an exorbitant amount of our holiday cash for a two day old English newspaper.
You might be thinking this is only to be expected
of a Newspaper Family such as ours - Mr B’s father worked in a paper mill, Mr B was a compositor making up many thousands of pages of newspapers in his time, I was a journalist for many years. But, no, Mr B’s holiday newspapers are a priority for
one simple reason - he can’t bear the thought that someone famous might die without him knowing about it. His worst fear is that, come New Year’s Eve when the TV companies broadcast a montage of all the sportsmen and women, the actors, the film
stars, the minor celebrities, the pop stars, the politicians of all parties who have “passed on” there will be some he didn’t know about it because they dared to die while we were away sunning ourselves on a faraway beach. It does, I suppose,
make a kind of sense.
More sense, Mr B would be quick to point out, than the time when my own holiday priorities were severely tested. We were on a canoe safari.
I know, I know, this doesn’t sound at all like me but we were accompanied on holiday by Our Boy, then aged sixteen, who had just completed his exams and needed a holiday that was a little more adventurous than the kind his parents favoured. The thought
of sharing a canoe with one of us didn’t appeal, for some reason, so he teamed up with another lad leaving his father and I to clamber aboard a craft of our own.
I knew it wasn’t going to be a picnic when our tour guide advised those of us wearing specs to tie them on securely. My sense of foreboding grew as we approached the first of the rapids where a crowd of locals had gathered to enjoy the spectacle
of whatever disaster would surely befall us.
We only fell in twice, once at the top of a rapid, the second time at the bottom of the same. As I struggled
in the water second time around, I noticed that Mr B’s money belt had come unfastened and was floating off down the river. At the same time, out of the corner of my eye, I could see his Spurs hat floating off in a slightly different direction. I leave
it to you, dear reader, to guess which one I tried to save first….
I finish my coffee, walk down to the newsagent, collect our newspaper and walk back through
the steady rain which has just started to fall. I arrive back, soaked through. Mr B points out, albeit kindly as he takes note of my bedraggled state, that had I gone when he suggested, instead of finishing my coffee, I would have been home and dry before
the rain started.
He still hasn’t actually read the newspaper. Spurs are on the TV playing Chelsea and he is glued to the screen. A chap has to get his priorities
right, don’t you know?