E Jane Dickson: 'I don't think people should do kissing in the park'

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The Independent Online

Regent's Park. It is that wondrous time of year again when summer is suddenly upon us. The young London male has shrugged off his shirt and tied it round his waist and, in hormonally determined response, girls are knotting their T-shirts above their midriffs and kicking up their heels in the new grass. On a park bench, a couple of Australian Goths, coitally entwined, are pulled back from the point of no return by my son Conor, on roller-blades, arriving in their midst unannounced and somewhat out of control.

"Sorry," pants Con, to the no-less-breathless couple, "I'm a good skater, but I'm not very good at stopping . My name's Conor," he says, remembering his manners. "D'you want to see a roller-blading trick?". To their credit, the couple do their best to look impressed as Con performs the not very complicated manoeuvre of skating-with-hands-on-knees.

"No worries, mate," calls the nice young man, when I arrive to tow Con away. We turn to wave, but our new friend is busy adjusting his girlfriend's legs around his waist.

"Yuck," sniffs Clara. "I don't think people should do kissing in the park, do you Mummy? I mean, it's all right holding hands and things - if you really love someone - but kissing? With people watching and everything!"

"Well, let's not watch, then," I suggest. "Look! There's the bird man, let's go and say hello and maybe he'll get a bird to sit on your head again."

Con, however is inclined to take a liberal view on the young lovers. "Maybe they're married," he offers. "You can't get into trouble for kissing when you're married."

"Ah, now," I reply, vaguely, keen to avoid a homily on the sanctity of marriage - a favourite theme with Clara these days - "I don't suppose anyone ever got into too much trouble just for kissing."

But David Beckham got into trouble," insists my girl, skating in circles around us, like Mary Whitehouse on wheels. "He got into trouble for kissing somebody not his wife!"

"Actually, Mum, that's true," Con concedes gloomily. "And maybe now he'll have to leave Real Madrid. Still," he points out, in his hero's defence, "he's got loads and loads of money. He's probably a millionaire, you know."

"Money is not the point," says Clara stoutly, and I warmly, if briefly, applaud her clear principles. "The point is, David Beckham's wife used to be a Spice Girl. I don't like the Spice Girls any more," Clara goes on, eager to prove her fair-mindedness. "In fact, I hate them now, but Posh is still famous."

"Well, fame's not really the point either," I feel compelled to say, but I am secretly relieved to know that Little Miss Torquemada is not entirely incorruptible.

"Oh, who cares?" says Conor, "kissing is stupid, anyway." And he trundles quite slowly, into a tree. "I meant to do that," he puffs, raising his arms, fractionally too late, in a ta-da! gesture. It's my new roller-blading trick. Let's have an ice-cream to celebrate."

It's barely an hour since breakfast, but the day is warm, and languor is in the air. "Go on then," I say, feeling summer's licence like sunlight on my limbs, "maybe just a small one."