As a gift for his 32nd birthday, I’ve procured tickets for my son Jonny and me to attend Yorkshire county cricket club’s fixture with Durham in a T20 Blast game at Headingley.
As he lives around 50-60 miles from the venue in North Yorkshire (I live the other side of Leeds from the ground), due to rail network disruption, my boy plans to drive the round trip to the event. A strategy which means he won’t be able to join me in a few celebratory beers to toast his birthday.
A situation which I’ve pondered over all week in an attempt to augment the experience’s brio level for a son I think of as a younger, far sensibler, brother…… If truth be told, there’s also an element of selfishness on my part. After all, who wants to sit next to someone with a face like a slapped arse because they’ve to imbibe lemonade all evening.
Although like me in many ways, my eldest offspring exhibits a far less capricious nature than yours truly. A pragmatist, who possesses my dad and brother Ian’s less volatile nature, my boy doesn’t seem at all put out by spending the evening not drinking.
During a recent phone call, upon learning of my reservations about him practising sobriety during this north Leeds event, Jonny highlighted to me “I’m not like you….. I don’t need to get pissed to enjoy myself, dad!”
A slur which led to my whimsical response of “I don’t have to get pissed to have a good time, Jonny….. What you need to take into account though is, for some reason, people I ordinarily socialise with do!”
After a period of silence at the other end of the phone, during which I assume Jonny was briefly revisiting his travel plans, he responded “No, I’ll be fine, dad….. Under the circumstances it’s easier for me to drive.”
“But you’ll enjoy my gift more if you have a few beers.” I felt moved to point out.
“Yeah, but I’d also enjoy my gift more if you weren’t with me…. I’m still coming though.” he joked…. Or at least I hope he was.
“It’ll be a right pain in the arse logistically to get to and from Headingley if I don’t drive, dad.” My son and heir continued to insist.
“I’ll pick you up!” I pointed out without putting much thought into the favour I was offering to undertake.
“How would that work then, dad?!” Jonny inquired; sounding utterly unconvinced it could be achieved in a manner that’d allow us both to drink.
Instead of leaving the subject there, I embarked on the following idiotic tongue in cheek travel itinerary for late Friday afternoon. The following a riff, which although deliberately silly, even shocked me with its magnitude of absurdity:-
“I could pick you up from Thirsk…… Then park at the Wetherby Park and Ride….. Get a taxi to Boston Spa…… Bus from there to Seacroft bus station….. Thumb a lift to Woodlesford and then walk the 15 miles from there to Headingley.“
Before adding, “F*** knows how we’d get home though!….. Oh, and I’ll have to work out how to retrieve my car from the Wetherby Park and Ride (P&R).”
“Book a helicopter to take you to the P&R.” Jonny suggested; clearly now deciding to adopt a stance of ‘if you can’t beat them join them’.
“I’ve already checked and can’t find a supplier who aren’t fully booked up on Saturday.” I ludicrously replied; determined to continue with my offbeat riff.
“I know what, dad…. As it’s my birthday, why don’t you drive the 100 mile round trip. Then you can stay sober and I can have a few sherbets?” Jonny suggested.
A suggestion which led to my hasty response of “So what time did you say you were picking me up on Friday?”