I grew up in Thanet – the 1980s and 1990s being the decades I witnessed through the eyes of my childhood and gradual ascent to adulthood. Like any area, it’s changed a hell of a lot since that fateful day in 1981 when my mother performed the exorcism to get me out. I jest, of course; she’s saintly, so can’t be a witch, and I don’t think the hospital would have had any truck with that sort of thing had she or my dad tried.
Like most people, my own childhood was normal; normal to me, anyway. One set of grandparents lived up by the Co-Op Hypermarket that once existed, and I spent a lot of time in the holidays with them whilst my parents worked hard – I was loved and secure, so I couldn’t ever grumble.
I was a shy, geeky child, although the shyness has lessened now; I’ll chat to anyone, much to my son’s despair if we’re in a shop and he just wants to get home. When I used to go down the shops with my nan, she would introduce me to just about everyone; as a child, I used to enjoy the attention, and my nan used to love the people who told her that she couldn’t be old enough to have grandchildren,
I’m in a slightly reflective mood at the start of this year, as you might tell; it’s just a date on the calendar, I tell myself, moving inexorably on from one day to the next, but there’s something about the change of year that often makes us think back over the last twelve months – and beyond – and think ahead to the coming year.
I’m working on a book at the moment and am determined, by hook or by crook, to finish it this year – then I have to think about who (if anyone) might be able to publish it. That’s not guaranteed, of course, but I want to try my hardest.
I obviously want to continue being the best dad I can possibly be. I’m most certainly not perfect, but I love being a dad. Something I like to do is share my knowledge and try to make things interesting. It’s been easier to try and teach my son a little something about contemporary politics this year when there’s been some excitement – three prime ministers, an emergency budget, untold chancellors – and some understandable sadness – the death of the Queen, for example. I’ve relished the news stories that allow me to weave in a bit of history into our conversations.
I also relish something more local; the diversity of shops and local diversions in this lovely area I call home. That we have a shop called Board at Home is a wonder to me; a place where we can buy board games from, but also where we can just sit and play games to our heart’s content. I was delighted when I found out about this shop, and both my lad and I are determined to go back there soon to enjoy more time just playing. I don’t know why it delights me so much; perhaps because I’m not much of a computer game player, so I’m always looking for other ways to engage my brain and have some fun – who can ask for more than that?
Even in winter, local open spaces are still beautiful. We were cooped up for a couple of days recently as we weren’t feeling well, so it was with some genuine excitement that we stepped outside our front door and spent some time with nature. Seeing little bits of colour was delightful (I stupidly didn’t realise we had holly growing on our doorstep), and there was something so calm and relaxing about just walking through nature, enjoying the scenery and having a bit of a play.
I hope you all had a lovely New Year, whatever you did, and here’s to a positive 2023 for all of us.