‘STOP worrying about me – for Heaven’s sake, I’m 43-years-old.”
That was my younger son’s reaction when I phoned to ask if he had got rid of a severe headache.
It had been acquired after a particularly heavy week at work and following a mountainous charity run I’d witnessed in scorching weather. The fact that he had taken painkillers – pills are something he usually avoids like flat beer – had heightened concern.
I did not resort to the well-worn cliché that when parents stop worrying, they stop caring or loving, but it came close. Nor did I prophesy that he would one day show hyper-concern over his two young sons because he does already.
It didn’t take long to get even, if that’s the phrase I’m looking for – less than 24 hours in fact. I announced I was returning to Nepal as soon as my renewed passport arrived and bookings could be made. (Readers have doubtless read this week of passport delays.)
In less time than it takes England to miss a penalty kick, he listed many pitfalls. Eventually I lifted my hand and with an air best described as snooty, said: “Stop worrying about me – for Heaven’s sake I’m...” falling silent before any incriminating number was uttered.
As they say in football circles – one-all.
But confession is called for: I met the Yellow Submarine charity for the first time – more than a year after it opened its café doors in Park End Street.
There is no excuse. The paintwork is bright enough and the invitation to passers-by plain for all to see. A warm welcome came from founder Toby Staveley who served a delightful calorie-loaded cake and the best pot of rooibos tea I’ve had in ages.
He introduced me to some of the young people the charity exists to help. Learning difficulties, overwhelming shyness and world-damaging conditions are there to be beaten as the team of devoted helpers does its bit.
Young people who never believed they could face the world are working in the shop and gaining experience and confidence in many tasks. Everyone strives to become assistant of the month. In the next academic year the charity intends to sponsor an apprentice at a local college.
An evening club, training sessions and holidays are all part of Yellow Submarine’s prescription. Sorry for ignoring you all so far, but I promise I’ll be back to learn more – and eat those cakes.
Two days ago the postman arrived bearing a card and a box. There was a brief note. “Your Father’s Day card and present,” it announced. “Sent and we hope received before you do something daft. We have no sale or return option.”
Defeated by a last-minute penalty?
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