Archive for October, 2019

Off-setting behaviour


Robin hesitated over an invitation to go go-karting with friends. His reluctance: that he would be burning fuel and contributing to global warming unnecessarily. The “don’t worry about it” argument was not making ground and so we talked about off-setting his carbon emissions. With an absence of scientific evidence, but an eye for something that would be meaningfully onerous for him, we agreed on him having one week of vegetarianism and a whole month of avoiding red meat.


Eliza has shaved a line in her left eye-brow. I warn her that she will be mistaken for a gang-member by a rival group.

The gap is slight but distinct. In that sense it is smaller and fuzzier than the gap in her life caused by her splitting up with Joe. More, but not that many, evenings and weekends at home.


Gabe broke out of an anxious couple of days on arriving at college. Going to a party in the bar, playing cards a group of his peers and a trial for the football team seem to have helped. So has starting studying. He has enjoyed each of his tutorials so far – specifically mentioning ‘fun’ – and completed essays independently and without agonising.

We visited him for his second weekend. He seemed calm and at ease (although our presence in college made him jittery). Unusually, eschewing criticism of anything different that he had experienced. Fatigue, from the sudden increase to the pace of his life, seems his biggest hurdle.

The long summer


Gabe was rigorous and determined in his commitment to doing nothing from mid-June, the end of his exams, and mid-October, the start of college. But connecting those two points was a third: exam results and the decision over his immediate future.

L & I had, with some difficulty, tried to discuss with him some options prior to results day, including deferring university for a year. As adamant as he was that he would do nothing during the long summer of 2019, Gabe was similarly fixed on either going to his 1st choice or taking a year off.

The morning came. The results were to be handed over later at school, but university admissions were confirmed first. Gabe walked into the kitchen, in his dressing gown, I think trembling. On his iPhone, the confirmation that he had his place at college. Later that morning: 3 A*s.

For the rest of the summer: he worked his way through the pre-term reading list sent by his tutors, but otherwise carried on doggedly doing nothing.


Eliza received an offer of a holiday in Crete with the family of a friend. Initial misgivings about her running unchecked through Med club nights were allayed when we met the family and were shown the villa, located remotely on the island’s north coast.

Away she went for a week of beautiful warm weather, on beaches, beside lakes and the villa’s pool. She dove-tailed into her friend’s family, filling the gap left by an older brother who opted to stay at home. They returned, full of fondness and compliments for Eliza, who was equally grateful for the invitation.


With two European trips under his belt already in 2019, Robin had least to lose from a summer shorn of a family holiday. By mid-August, he was contemplating going back to school, without complaint.

While Eliza was in Crete, he and I took a day-trip to the North Wales coast. The clouds rolled back mid-morning as we finished a game of beach cricket. A lunch of fish and chips on a pub terrace, before we headed to another part of the beach for frisbee. Then, into the sea – Robin more willingly than me. Eventually, though we swam together in UK waters, perhaps for the first time. As evening approached, a game of crazy golf and a Mexican meal to round-off the trip.