Opinion with Matthew Munson: Fame, Christmas and panto fun

Matthew and Bryan

I almost met Boris Johnson this week. Almost being the operative word. On Thursday, I decided to go and get my booster jab after I dropped Bryan off to school; Saga had a drop-in clinic, so off I went in the hope that I’d be in and out quickly. I was, it has to be said – I was jabbed within six minutes of walking into the building (I checked my watch).

It was only after I walked out that I realised that something was going on; it was this esteemed organ, The Isle of Thanet News, that informed me that the Prime Minister was visiting the very building I had so recently left. I was annoyed; I could think of half-a-dozen funny one-liners I could have said (funny to me, anyway), but curses – I missed out.

Photo NHS Kent and Medway

Bryan was suitably impressed; he thought my near-miss was cool, although not as cool as the time I waved at the Queen Mother many years ago and she waved back. I also saw Princess Anne emerge from a helicopter just this year, and because I’m a published author, Bryan thinks I’m more famous than pretty much anyone. So there.

Funnily enough, he actually got recognised today; we had popped into the Ramsgate Garden Centre and bumped into Father Christmas as we walked round. He greeted Bryan with a cheery “Hello, Bryan!”, and Bryan was quite cheered by that; who knew that Santa reads The Isle of Thanet News? He walked tall for the rest of our journey home.

By the time you read this, we will have visited the Marlowe’s panto in Canterbury; we’re going Sunday afternoon, but in order to get my column over to the esteemed Editor in time, I have to write it on Sunday morning. So please delete one of the two next sentences as appropriate;

We loved it!


It was terrible.

In a moment of weakness, I stupidly promised Bryan a trip to Kaspa’s after the show for a dessert; why I agreed to that, I do not know, but he’s mentioned it … a bit since I made this rash decision. It’s the least I can do for him (along with the panto) as we get ready for the final Christmas countdown.

Ah, Christmas … I am not Mr Christmas, it’s probably fair to say, but Bryan loves it. He’s 10, that’s to be expected; he has two weeks off from school, a get-together with his siblings, a Christmas Eve party, and Christmas Day with me and his grandparents.

The biggest pleasure for me is to give Bryan a contented Christmas; we don’t travel far, we don’t spend massive quantities of money, and we just spend time on relationships and excitement. I see him cherish all the traditions of Christmas innocently and purely, because they’re important to him, and so therefore they’re important to me.

Every now and then, someone comments – who doesn’t know that we’ve been blessed by adoption – that they can tell Bryan is my son; usually because of facial features. I was reminded of that just this Saturday, because we popped to the park and he saw a toddler playing with his dad. Bryan commented that they looked very much alike; he then looked at me and said, “So do we.” He gave me a knowing smile, and I returned it.

Matthew and Bryan

The irony is that we do look a little alike; I didn’t choose Bryan for that reason – I couldn’t have predicted that when I saw his first picture over three years ago – but because I just knew we were right for each other. Call it instinct, if you want, or hope, but we’ve found a connection. I feel that I’m learning how to be a parent all the time, and always improving (usually by thinking, “I wish I hadn’t done that”), and Bryan is slowly communicating his own thoughts and dreams.

Every day is a new challenge, and I love trying to encourage and inspire him; he knows where sometimes he might be able to get away with one more chocolate if I’m in a particularly good mood … but he also knows where my boundaries are, and that they exist because I love him. Today I made him laugh. Tomorrow, maybe I’ll teach him a fact he didn’t know before. What a genuine privilege it is to be a parent;


  1. Ho Ho Ho Bryan and Matthew of course. Don’t forget to leave a mince pie and glass of sherry out for Father Christmas, maybe a carrot or parsnip for the reindeer. Have a lovely Christmas and stay safe.
    Thanks for all the stories in Opinion this year.

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