It was a birthday treat for Andrew – a theme park visit – Flamingoland. He is a theme park geek and a pretty boring one at that. If it’s pay-as-you go, then we will go too. If you have to pay to get in, then it’s a waste of time and money because we don’t go on anything. So Andrew has to persuade some mug to go with him. Into the breach steps Chris, all the way from Glasgow. He says he’s happy to do something once a year.
I took Andrew on the Thursday night, stopping off at the Ham and Cheese pub outside Malton. He wanted the Four Alls but it was only 4.00. He was grateful for anything, having endured a full day in college. Maths and English. He hasn’t made any friends yet, but he is having to face up to a few things. Like persisting on the course and putting up with gum-chewers, teeth-clickers and 19 year old schizophrenics who ask him for money. He has been honest with the tutors and whilst he perceives them as strict, he also respects them. He is aware that it is a sort of ‘last chance’.
Chris arrives for a quick beer and cheese before going to the Highlander. Hasn’t been for over 8 years. We make sure we have some malt in – Glenlivet from Sainsbury’s. It’s fish and chip night which I buy without question, only for Andrew to discover afterwards that there was full menu on. Not one for letting me forget. Then down the arcades which were crap. So we finished the evening at the bowling alley. A tad pissed and on our own. I get my best score for years. Chris wins easy. Andrew tries to demolish the gutter. The man has to replace the bumpers. Then back for the Glenlivet. Very nice.
Chris’s lilo deflates so he has an hour in my bed. Mum arrives on the early train. We get bacon butties from Thundercliff and they set off for Flamingoland. Mum and I chill for a bit and then a bit of shopping, with an interlude in the Golden Ball. They get back at 5.30. It’s a chilli and some time, quite late, we go down to bowl again. Before that, we watch the first half of Saracens v Toulouse on Skygo. 60000 at Wembley. Mum wins. The man remembers Andrew’s shoe size – 13 and virtually unworn. We finish the Glenlivet (half bottle).
The Clock Cafe for brunch. Chris has been wearing a bobble hat all weekend – Mum calls him Noddy. That makes Andrew ‘Big Ears’. 17 stone giant.
So a couple of days to celebrate a birthday. But it was far more than that. It was two days with our sons and no hassle. Andrew is having fewer ‘meltdowns’, but no complacency – it is still unpredictable. No issues this time. Chris is a key influence, though he suffered in Tenerife.
Saturday and Chris is away back to Glasgow and Eszter. ‘I won’t leave it another 8 years’ says Chris. He has reconnected with Granny’s flat and a whole load of stuff we probably don’t know about. Quality time and opportunities for reflection, with some Scotch in between.
And then the last night. Comedy club at the spa. Andrew on the front row – us at the back. Him heckling the compere and getting as much back. Clearly not on his own and where’s mum and dad. Probably okay but ………..