Johnny is the youngest of my three nephews. We have always been close, he was an adorable little boy – full of mischief and energy but unfailingly good natured and kind. Later on he lived with us for a year while he was training to be a carpenter and often on his way home to Tenby after his extensive travels (carpentry is a very mobile profession), he would stop off to stay with us.
He’s always been a risk taker, when he was growing up it was best to have only the vaguest idea of where he was and what he was doing. Knowing in detail would invariably be terrifying and trying to stop him doing anything was like trying to control a thunderstorm. Fortunately for his parents’ sanity, growing up in a beautiful little town like Tenby limits the opportunities for placing oneself in danger, although it was certainly not for the want of trying. One example that springs to mind is the terrifying habit Tenby teenagers have of jumping off the pier which leads to the lifeboat station. When the tide is high this is scary enough, it must be 5 metres, but you are jumping into deep, clear water. As the tide recedes, the amount of available water lessens until eventually there is none at all and it is possible to walk underneath the pier. The trick, and this is what makes it so attractive to foolhardy teenagers, is to be the last person to jump as the tide goes out. No prizes for guessing who the last person invariably was.
About five years ago, my force of nature, wild, lovely nephew met Hanne. She’s also full of fun and laughter, but thankfully has both feet firmly on the ground. I don’t doubt for a moment that she would jump off the pier with the other wild things, but she’d keep an eye on the tide and would know when to stop.
Some time later, to our utter delight, along came Lewis. He reminds me so much of his dad as a baby that it sometimes makes me catch my breath. He too is curious, fearless and full of energy, and he too is also good natured, happy and sweet. I’ve always liked babies but I’ve been surprised at how deeply Lewis has burrowed into my heart, he is wonderful.
Johnny, Hanne and Lewis are currently living in England, but would like eventually to move to Wales. I am naturally doing everything I can to encourage this and was perfectly happy to have them stay while they looked around Swansea. I’ll admit that having them visit when I was in need of a carpenter was also very useful.
I had asked Johnny to do a bit of home improvement for me while he was here on ‘holiday’ and as he always does, he worked like a demon. There was no time to go out for lunch, he was far too busy making cupboards and mixing plaster. If I’m honest I was far too busy playing with Lewis and chatting to Hanne, so that was fine by me.
28 January 2015
Lunch that day way a homage to the family tradition of returning from foreign travel at an ungodly hour and being provided with bacon and eggs. My mother did this for me and I have often done it for Johnny. There’s more to it than satisfying hunger of course – no bacon tastes as good as that consumed after a six hour hitch from Dover or a 30 hour flight from New Zealand, it tastes of home, the opportunity to relax, a hot bath and being with people who love you.
Quite how much of this was clear to Hanne , Lewis and my lot is unknown, but they all went along happily with the fried breakfast for lunch thing and ate a subset of the usual English breakfast fare: bacon, sausages, eggs, mushrooms, baked beans, fried tomatoes and toast. Lewis is a great dinner companion, he either sits nicely and eats everything within reach or sleeps the meal away allowing the adults to have theirs. Today he went for the latter which meant that by the time he was ready for lunch there was nothing left but beans and toast. He ate it uncomplainingly, surely the only member of our family who would ever treat bacon in such a cavalier fashion. But then he’s one, I doubt he’ll be so forgiving next time.