What the f*ck? Where the hell is the X-Box? Tell me the mad bitch doesn't think we're gonna play outside with that shitey pile of branches and old string. Get my mobile now. I've got Max Clifford on speed dial.
The bloody dog ran away this morning on our walk. She's still only a puppy but she's also a shocking tart; she will go home with pretty much anyone that gives her a bit of attention and we all know girls like THAT. She charged off to the corner of the field and into the graveyard, following a golden retriever and a tall man in a waxed jacket. I scrambled over the wall and cut them off, grabbing her collar and redeeming her reputation. The man was most amused that I'd climbed a wall. Perhaps he thought I was too sophisticated for such child-like pursuits. More likely he thought I was too old.
On the long hike back, I was remembering the many many walls I have climbed in my time. As children, before the Abdication, the Northen Socialist used to take us walking for miles about the North of England. Sometimes we came across natural obstacles; sometimes he went on ahead and made them for us. We kids then had to make bridges and walkways; the higher and more dangerous the better. Bits of wood, old tyres, rope and haybales. Fording freezing streams, often falling in. Climbing trees and great dry stone walls; inventing labrynth plank-lined passages high above the fields; stalking imaginary lions in the fells.
My own children, and several others, once spent a whole day under the Colonel's command, re-routing a river in the Lake District. They moved tons of stones, ferns, soil. Some of the operation took place up a cliff; some waist-deep in water. There were duckings and grazes and squabbles, but eight filthy happy faces cheered a new torrent through the gloaming as night fell. But it was a rare day; they certainly weren't Macguyvering suspension bridges out of old cardboard and string on a weekly basis. More's the pity.
I know it's fashionable to decry the lack of physical challenges our children face, but I think they are losing out more on the mental and emotional benefits. Not to give up straight away. To laugh at yourself when you can't do something instead of casting about for someone to do it for you. To admire those who quietly don't give up instead of whining, sobbing-in-newspapers arseholes who think that making your lack of spine public absolves you of responsibility. To encounter a challenge and bloody well give it a go, not crumple pathetically and bemoan the cards fate dealt you.
I came home bristling about this. The Colonel is begging me to spend less time alone. And to start drinking again. He's probably got a point.