What else has been going on?
The Queen of Chaos left a message on my mobile on Friday morning. Seems she had been trying to get me for, like, oh, five minutes. The message went like this...
...where are you, brother? You could be dead for all I know why don’t you ever answer your freakin’ phone why bother getting a mobile if its always switched off that’s why we get the things so we can stay in touch with people where the hell are you? Anyway – I hear her voice switch from crabby to smiley – just wondered seeing as it’s a holiday if you and the wee fella wanted to go for a coffee?
...I’m thinking, sure, 12 year olds LOVE to go for coffees.
Un/Fortunately, I didn’t pick up QC’s message until Friday evening because I took the wee man to Loudoun Castle. This is a theme park with rides n’ stuff that’s only about 20 minutes from my home. The first thing to note is that it’s not a cheap day out. The second thing to note is now that my boy is 12 I get to pay adult price for him. He was delighted.
...not only am I mature, dad (I made the mistake of telling him his reaction to something was very mature and I’ve heard NOTHING but since) I’m now an adult, says he.
...can you vote? I ask.
...would I want to?
...fair point, say I, but do you pay taxes?
...would I want to?
...ok, you’re an adult. Ish.
In the park the first attraction we come across is a group of stunt divers. Four guys are wearing wet-suits and diving from a slender ladder that stretches over 30 feet high, into a pool 9 feet wide and 9 feet deep. Ok, the numbers are approximations. So sue me, I wasn’t taking notes.
The first 10 minutes of their act was with the guys dressed like clowns over their wetsuits and the wee man lapped it up, going into a giggling fit. And then they got serious and performed a series of dives. And for the record, you wouldn’t get me up that ladder for all the chocolate in Thorntons.
Then in the park proper we went on the dodgems, a log flume and some other stuff. Being someone whose liver is more lily than leather I was keen to avoid the scarier rides. Fortunately, the wee man takes after his father and he had no intention of going anywhere near them.
In a moment of bravado, however he suggested we go on the – can’t remember the name – let’s call it the Black Pearl. Imagine a boat that moves in a circle upwards... as in up in the sky. Catching my drift here? So that for a time you are actually upside down.?
Whenever we had been watching this ride it had remained stationary. No one was on it. Which should have been the first warning sign. So we were curious as to what the thing actually did. The next warning sign is when you sit down you are pinned to your seat by a thick leather pad. You’ll remember when I said I was lily-livered?
...what’s this for, dad?
...to keep you safe. Was that a quiver in my voice?
...is this dangerous?
...nah. Nothing here is dangerous, I say for my benefit as much as his.
A few more people get on “the boat”. A young man wearing the park uniform locks the door and there’s no turning back.
It swings up....then back down...then back up...really high....you hang upside down in the air...then it comes back down. Somebody squeals. It might even have been me.
...Daaaaad, are you sure we’re safe, asks the wee fella?
...yes, I say, again for my benefit as much as his...you’re pinned to your seat and if that doesn’t work there are bars above your head which means you’ll stay inside the boat rather than plummeting to your death.
The “boat” makes a full revolution and my stomach ends up in my throat. I squeal like a girl. The wee fella’s voice is high with panic and I’m wondering was it the word “plummeting” that caused him to panic or was it the word “death”?
The boat makes a couple more slow revolutions. Way to slow. The upside down moment is drawn out to cause the most panic. Oh wait. I’m actually beginning to enjoy this. Almost.
...keep your eyes closed if that makes you feel better, I say.
...but then I feel sick.
...don’t be sick, I warn, you might catch it on the way back down.
Thankfully, the boat slows and stops. We get off.
...that was NOT fun, dad. He eyes me with strong accusation. Like it was my fault.
...agreed. Shall we never do it again?
...want to go for a coffee?
....he looks around in a panic – you’re sister isn’t going to appear from behind a bush is she?
At this point the song that is playing over the park's sound system registers with us both and the wee man says what I'm thinking.
...Everybody Hurts. Did they have to play that song, Dad?
Sunday I go visiting.
....can I just sit in the car, Dad?
...that’s rude. No.
...there may well be chocolate eggs on offer, I say. Perhaps even cash.
....why didn’t you say so? He’s out of the car before I can pull on the hand-brake.
Monday we veg. We loaf. We loiter without any intent whatsoever. I offer to take him to go and see The Clash of the Titans. He’s not bothered. Makes a face.
...what do you want to do? I ask.
...don’t know but I’m bored.
...give me a suggestion then.
---don’t have any, but jeeez I’m bored.
....picking that up on my “boredom monitor”, say I. But until you give me a suggestion – I pick up my book , kick off my shoes and stretch along the sofa – we’ll stay right here.
...suits me fine, he shrugs. I’ll just play my Xbox.
This response from the wee man has played right in to my hands and I send a silent prayer to the patron saint of book addicts. (There isn’t one? Well, make one up dammit.) And a shame-faced look to the skies aimed at the patron saint of crap parenting. Well, this is a religious festival innit?
I bought the second Peter Brett novel on Sunday. It’s called Desert Spear. I’m half-way through and I NEED to finish it today.
If you like fantasy novels, you gotta check out Mr Brett. His books are as addictive as....well, that drug the British media are desperate to make illegal. I came across him on Patrick Rothfuss’ blog and if Paddy boy is recommending anyone that’s good enough for me. Peter V Brett (to give him his full moniker) sticks to all the conventions of the genre while going in a direction I’ve yet to come across. He has great characters, an unusual application of magic and creatures and boy, do you read it in a hurry. Oh, and did I say it was addictive?
Unfortunately, I am now faced with the curse of the greedy reader –having to wait another year for the next in the series.
Never mind...there’s bound to be something interesting in my To Be Read pile.