Sunday 19 December 1999
Barnaby selected the same venue for his party that every other five-year- old in the area always picks: an indoor play centre under the Westway. It is a children's paradise, full of slides and ladders and webbed-rope walkways, and consequently a kind of parent's hell, and one which smells strongly of feet. The place makes very little concession to adults. One is made to feel like a vegetarian in a steak house. Sitting in a sticky chair, making small talk with other parents, I resisted the urge to apologise. The place is a great leveller, I decided, as I watched fund-managing Supermum Nicola Horlick settle into another sticky chair across the room.
During the party, I tried to tell my Alexander Technique instructor, whose son was among the revellers, the amusing story of how I got the gash across the bridge of my nose, how I was strolling up Portobello Road in the dark, looking at my feet, and walked into a market stall. "Why were you looking at your feet?" he asked. I felt my neck muscles turn to stone.
"You can't just stand there," hissed my wife, when she later caught me ostentatiously exhibiting good posture. "You're the father." I opted to feed the baby sullenly in a corner. Barnaby, for his part, enjoyed himself so much that he was sick on his trousers. That's what I call a party.
Next up came the school nativity play, in which Barnaby was once again the centre of attention, in his role as Narrator #2. I suddenly realised that I was the only Dad in the world without a video camera. The last time I looked, video cameras were naff and obtrusive, and a discreet gun- metal grey stills camera was the only thing to have. Now everybody has a discreet gun-metal grey video camera. The same thing happened to me with mobile phones a couple of years back. I need to get out more.
From the moment Barnaby stepped on to the stage I began to cry. Well, almost. I don't personally count it as crying unless the tears actually roll down the face. So long as you blink them away before that, it's just being overwhelmingly proud. It's a matter of keeping on top of it: blink, smile, look away, blink, look up, blink, smile, blink. It was a long play.
Life & Style blogs
Holocaust Memorial Day: 70 years since Auschwitz liberation, these are the stories of survivors
Double chins could be 'cured' without surgery or dieting using new injection
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
Hershey's angers US chocolate purists by forcing company to stop importing 'yummy' Cadbury bars
Facebook, Instagram websites down — Lizard Squad hint at involvement, but Facebook claims it broke itself
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
French court convicts three over homophobic tweets, in case hailed as a 'significant victory' by LGBT rights campaigners
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
British Muslim school children suffering a backlash of abuse following Paris attacks
Islamic history is full of free thinkers - but recent attempts to suppress critical thought are verging on the absurd
British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford faces execution by firing squad in Indonesia
- 1 Double chins could be 'cured' without surgery or dieting using new injection
- 2 The BBC has just done more to eradicate ‘terrorism’ than all our wars since 9/11
- 3 Dog thinks owner is drowning in lake, dives in and tries to pull him out
- 4 Thank heavens for Louise Mensch and her foul-mouthed tweets to world leaders
- 5 Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
£125 - £150 per day + Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: A 'wonderful primary ...
£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Our client is an 11-16 mixed commun...
£32000 - £36000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A rapidly developing company in...
Negotiable: Ashdown Group: Application Architect/Developer - Peterborough, Cam...