If he had still been alive and healthy, I wonder what I would have bought him for this birthday…
Dad loved watching Scottish rugby (he would have been very animated watching today’s six nations match against France). He loved motor sports—bikes or cars, it didn’t really matter, although he had practical, hands-on experience of bike racing when he was younger.
At one point he was very much into building models of motorbikes, and his early love of steam railways led to him collecting 00-gauge Hornby models with a long-term plan of converting the old wash-house built next to our house into a room for his model railway.
He sang and acted, he played bagpipes, and he used to enjoy sitting on the edge of my bed listening to Queen, especially “Radio Ga Ga”.
I wonder what he’d have been into now had he not died at the age of 52.
Last night I received an email from Luxembourg. I had to look up on Google Maps to remind me where Luxembourg is. It’s in Europe (I knew that), near France (I knew that too), and next to Belgium and Germany (that’s the bit that I’d forgotten).
The email was inviting me to the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg in April to a dual celebration: the baptism/christening of Georgina and the 40th birthday of her father, my dear (and sensible) friend Jonny Grocock.
I first met Jonny in December 1988 at St Elphin’s School, Darley Dale on my first National Youth Choir of Great Britain (NYC) course. That was the night the water pipes broke and we were all evacuated to the library at around 3:00 am.
The burst pipes had nothing to do with NYC.
Nope. Nothing. Nothing at all. Well…maybe just a little bit.
But not me: I was asleep. Being sensible.
That’s what I was like in those days. It was my first NYC course and I woke around 2:30 am to the sound of running water. I just assumed that this was an NYC tradition: showers in the middle of the night of the first night of a course.
It could happen!
Jonny, Danny Curtis and me all became Social Secretaries in NYC in 1993, after the first World Tour. They are two of my best friends in all the world. And perhaps even further afield.
I’m going to do my very best to get to Luxembourg to see him. You just watch me!
This morning at breakfast I realised that it’s exactly one week to Jane’s birthday; six months to Reuben and Joshua’s birthday; and six months minus one week to my birthday.
So I couldn’t let today go by without wishing Reuben and Joshua a very happy 1½th birthday! That’s right they are 18 months old today. I can hardly believe it: we’ve survived them and they’ve survived us.
A year and a half
The last year and a half has been such an emotional and physical roller coaster; an incredible learning curve for us all. Not just in terms of the practicalities of how to look after two babies (now toddlers) but also learning about ourselves under pressure, and Jane and I learning more about each other.
It’s not been easy. At times it’s been really, really difficult. But it has been an amazing journey, an amazing adventure. I wouldn’t give it up for anything. In the past I’ve worked in homeless hostels, in a prison and as a hospital chaplain. Those jobs now look easy in comparison!
And we have the loveliest, sweetest boys who wave “bu-bye!” to their feet when they are zipped into their sleeping bags at night, or who tilt their heads to the side when coming in for a cuddle before racing off after the cat (pronounced ‘soos’) or to carry a mop around the house. (Cuddles from Reuben and Joshua I’ve realised are amongst the two greatest things on the planet.)
Jane had them weighed and measured last week. Joshua’s doing really well with a pretty bang-on average weight and height for his age. Reuben, however, is currently at the 95th percentile for weight and off the chart for height. It turns out he’s the average height of a 2½ year old!
I have no idea where he gets it from? It’s certainly not from his 6’4″ father or 6’0″ mother! 😉
So, Reuben and Joshua just know that Daddy loves you and is more proud of you than anything else I’ve ever experienced. I love you.