Opinion: Matthew Munson – Outings, history and a ukulele

The latest journey for Matthew and Bryan

I had a momentary panic on Saturday, when the weather wasn’t behaving itself. I had wanted to take Bryan to Wildwood, but the weather wasn’t playing ball, and that wasn’t fair; I had the whole day planned, and we were both excited by the chance to see a bison.

But I soon concluded that it was too much of a risk, as stubborn as I am – so I was left with a dangerously empty day. We’d had a chill-out day on Friday at home, and were both keen to get some fresh air.

Why did I panic? Oh, I don’t know; undoubtedly because I try to have all the answers and be cool, calm, and collected at all times. All of that lasts for the first five minutes of every day, and then I remember the lessons I’ve learnt over the past year and three months.

I decided to take Bryan down to the Lillyput Mini Golf in Broadstairs; somewhere, I must confess, I don’t ever remember going to before. My parents took Bryan down there last year, and he loved it, so I decided to try it with him – and we laughed a lot. I’m not one to brag, but I won. I’m planning on having a certificate done.

I then took Bryan over to Canterbury on the train, after a brief discussion at the train station to make sure Bryan could get on without a mask. Thankfully, he could; I couldn’t cope with the complaints, I suspect.

The lock-down is easing slowly, so Canterbury town centre was quiet, and it was lovely. We spent a wonderful couple of hours just walking around and taking in the history; I was surprised how invested he was in the stories I could tell him, as he’s not much of one for history – but perhaps the personalised stories captured his interest more than I thought.

I found myself telling him the tale of Thomas Becket being killed on the floor of Canterbury Cathedral – whilst sitting quietly in the cathedral itself – and he said (loudly), “That’s so cool! I mean bad, but …” My hushing him drowned out the rest of his sentence, but the damage had been done. It’s easy to forget just how fascinated kids can be in the most unexpected things.

I’ve also learnt something new about myself; just how intensely tone deaf I am. I have almost no hearing for tuning an instrument, for example; it’s awful. Bryan has recently started practicing with his ukulele at home – after “giving up” for a few months, he saw his sister playing some music (which was captivating), and Bryan … perhaps partly inspired by the music and partly by a bit of sibling rivalry – dusted down his uke and began re-tuning it. He looked at me in horror when I could tell the difference between the notes, and struggled to help with the tuning. I’d be intrigued to know if anyone shares my lack of ability on that one.

Next week, we start to look at things very differently, with the lifting of more restrictions, and I have to decide how to help Bryan manage that. First, I need to figure it out for myself and for my family – another challenging week ahead.