Brian Viner: 'I'm not sure when I turned from hero into old fart in my daughter's eyes'

Home And Away

Related Topics

More than a month after Eleanor's 16th birthday party, which was attended by 80 teenagers, we're still finding evidence in the furthest recesses of the garden that it wasn't quite an exercise in temperance. Two crumpled Stella Artois cans turned up yesterday under some old grass cuttings and last week I found an empty cigarette packet in the yew hedge, all of which makes us fret slightly about Elly's departure today for The Big Chill, a three-day music festival in the grounds of Eastnor Castle, where she is camping with her mates.

After all, girls of 16 can easily pass for 18, and as often as they can, they do. It's tougher for boys, as Elly cheerfully related on her return the other night from a Young Farmers' do. All the party-goers were asked their age on the way in, and those who admitted they were under 18 got a red cross drawn on the backs of their hands, meaning they weren't allowed to buy alcohol at the bar, while those who were 18 or over, or said they were and weren't asked for proof, got green crosses.

Later in the evening a couple of Elly's male friends were supping pints of lager when two bouncers asked to see the backs of their hands. Sheepishly, they showed two red crosses, whereupon the bouncers, in bold red marker pen, drew a cross on each of their foreheads and both cheeks, somewhat ruining the carefully cultivated boy-band look. Unless, I suppose, it was a boy band called Simply Red Crosses. Or perhaps The Toddlers.

Still, it's good to know that it's not just anxious parents trying to impose sensible drinking restrictions on these kids, most of whom, I should swiftly add, seem to be fairly responsible themselves. On the other hand, when were responsibility and moderation ever encouraged at pop festivals? And I use the term pop festival as a deliberate wind-up, having been castigated for it by Elly, whose shudder of horror at her sad old man's fuddy-duddyness could only have been more pronounced had she had a friend present. "It's not a pop festival," she said, rolling the word "pop" round her mouth as if it tasted of dung.

I'm not entirely sure when I turned from hero and protector into silly old fart in my daughter's eyes. We've just come back from a week's holiday in Sardinia where she seemed perfectly happy to spend the evenings with Jane and me, while her brothers went off to play football. But old fartdom is never far away, especially when she catches me trying to text. It's not as though I can't text; in fact I reckon I've got quite nifty at it, but 16-year-olds seem to be able to text 100 words a minute while watching Friends.

What I haven't mastered, I readily admit, is predictive texting. But at least I have a kindred spirit in Jane, whose solitary great predictive-texting disaster has become legend in certain north Herefordshire social circles. It occurred last year, on the day Suzanne, the influential number two at Simon & Schuster, who publish my books, came to our house for lunch. Jane had never previously met Suzanne, who was on her way, with her husband James and children, to the Hay Festival. An exciting added dimension was that Jane had sent Suzanne her first novel, which Suzanne liked, and over lunch they discussed it. Then Suzanne and James set off for Hay, with us, coincidentally, not far behind them.

A few minutes later my phone pinged with a message, which Jane read because I was driving. It was from Suzanne, thanking us profusely for lunch. I asked Jane to reply, telling them to be sure to take the right turn-off for Hay. But the predictive text function got the better of her, and before she realised what was happening, she had written something and texted it. "Oh my God," she said, "I think I've just sent Suzanne a load of gobbledygook." We checked the outbox. It turned out quite unaccountably that she had sent the brusque message "big udders", which is probably not what anyone expects in reply to a polite thank-you.

While we wondered whether it might spell the demise of both our literary careers, the story went down a storm with our friends, who still all-too-often text "big udders" in reply to our messages. Meanwhile, when I need help with anything technical, I find girls of 16 much more reliable than fortysomething women.

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Cancer Research UK: Corporate Partnerships Volunteer Events Coordinator – London

Voluntary: Cancer Research UK: We’re looking for someone to support our award ...

Ashdown Group: Head of IT - Hertfordshire - £90,000

£70000 - £90000 per annum + bonus + car allowance + benefits: Ashdown Group: H...

Ashdown Group: Application Support Analyst - SQL Server, T-SQL

£28000 - £32000 per annum + Excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Application Sup...

Ashdown Group: Systems Analyst / Data Analyst (SQL Server, T-SQL, data)

£28000 - £32000 per annum + Excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Systems Analyst...

Day In a Page

Read Next

Errors & Omissions: Outgunned by a lack of military knowledge

Guy Keleny
Ukip leader Nigel Farage in Tiny Tim’s tea shop while canvassing in Rochester this week  

General Election 2015: What on earth happened to Ukip?

Matthew Norman
Major medical journal Lancet under attack for 'extremist hate propaganda' over its coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

Lancet accused of 'anti-Israel hate propaganda' over coverage of Gaza conflict

Threat to free speech as publishers of renowned medical journal are accused of inciting hatred and violence
General Election 2015: Tories and Lib Dems throw their star names west to grab votes

All noisy on the Lib Dems' western front

The party has deployed its big guns in Cornwall to save its seats there. Simon Usborne heads to the heart of the battle
How Etsy became a crafty little earner: The online market has been floated for £1.2bn, but can craft and capitalism coexist?

How Etsy became a crafty little earner

The online market has been floated for £1.2bn, but can craft and capitalism coexist?
Guy Ritchie is the latest filmmaker to tackle King Arthur - one of our most versatile heroes

King Arthur is inspiring Guy Ritchie

Raluca Radulescu explains why his many permutations - from folk hero to chick-lit hunk - never cease to fascinate
Apple Watch: Will it live up to expectations for the man or woman on the street?

Apple Watch: Will it live up to expectations?

The Apple Watch has apparently sold millions even before its launch tomorrow
Don't fear the artichoke: it's a good cook's staple, with more choice than you'd think

Don't fear the artichoke

Artichokes are scary - they've got spikes and hairy bits, and British cooks tend to give them a wide berth. But they're an essential and delicious part of Italian cuisine
11 best men's socks

11 best men's socks

Make a statement with your accessories, starting from the bottom up
Paul Scholes column: Eden Hazard would be my Player of the Year – but I wonder if he has that appetite for goals of Messi or Ronaldo

Paul Scholes column

Hazard would be my Player of the Year – but I wonder if he has that appetite for goals of Messi or Ronaldo
Frank Warren: Tyson Fury will be closely watching Wladimir Klitschko... when he wins it'll be time to do a deal

Frank Warren's Ringside

Tyson Fury will be closely watching Wladimir Klitschko... when he wins it'll be time to do a deal
London Marathon 2015: Kenya's brothers in arms Wilson Kipsang and Dennis Kimetto ready to take on world

Kenya's brothers in arms take on world

Last year Wilson Kipsang had his marathon record taken off him by training partner and friend Dennis Kimetto. They talk about facing off in the London Marathon
Natalie Bennett interview: I've lost track of the last time I saw my Dad but it's not because I refuse to fly

Natalie Bennett interview: I've lost track of the last time I saw my Dad

Green leader prefers to stay clear of her 'painful' family memories but is more open about 'utterly unreasonable' personal attacks
Syria conflict: Khorasan return with a fresh influx of fighters awaiting the order to start 'shooting the birds'

Khorasan is back in Syria

America said these al-Qaeda militants were bombed out of the country last year - but Kim Sengupta hears a different story
General Election 2015: Is William Cash the man to woo Warwickshire North for Ukip?

On the campaign trail with Ukip

Is William Cash the man to woo Warwickshire North?
Four rival Robin Hood movies get Hollywood go-head - and Friar Tuck will become a superhero

Expect a rush on men's tights

Studios line up four Robin Hoods productions
Peter Kay's Car Share: BBC show is the comedian's first TV sitcom in a decade

In the driving seat: Peter Kay

Car Share is the comedian's first TV sitcom in a decade. The programme's co-creator Paul Coleman reveals the challenges of getting the show on the road