I’m in a little village in Andalusia for my Dad’s 70th birthday. I’m sitting at a table outside a bar with various members of my family (Zsuzsa, Mila, my Dad, my brother and my nephew). There are also two other people sitting at our table. A woman from Blackburn and her Irish husband who’ve invited themselves to sit with us. The Irish guy has just said something that has caught my attention. I decide to question it.
“You have ten metres of metal in your head?” I ask.
“Yes.” he proudly responds.
“Ten metres?” I again ask, just to be sure that I’ve heard this correctly.
“Yes! Ten metres!” he replies.
I look around at everyone else, just to check that I’m not the only one surprised at this fact. Everyone else seems to have taken it as gospel. Still I’m unsure. Ten metres seems a lot. Especially given the size of his head. I look at its again. It looks five metres wide at best. I’m about to continue my line of Paxman-esque inquisition when Zsuzsa stops me in my tracks by announcing her departure. I mean from the evening. Despite what you may think, she’s not an airplane
“Why are you heading back? It’s not even nine.” I say.
“It’s getting a bit cold.” Zsuzsa replies. She then get’s up, and like a Boeing 747, promptly leaves with my baby.
I glance at my brother Ross. He’s whispering with my Dad. They both smile, nod and turn to face me.
“What?” I ask.
“Ross recognised it as well.” my father says.
“Recognised what?” I respond.
I stare at them blankly before my father adds, “First child syndrome.”
I instantly see what’s going on here. These clowns are calling us neurotic!
“Hang on. We’re not neurotic parents!”
Ross smiles at me smugly.
“You’ll learn.” he says.
“But we’re not!” Sometimes Mila doesn’t even wear socks!” I say indignantly.
“It’s nothing to be ashamed of.” Ross says. “Most parents are like it. Even we were like it once! Then you have a second child and realise that you were worrying unnecessarily.”
Ross then sits back, take a sip of beer.
“Just chill out.” he says. "Don't worry about them. They'll be okay."
He then attempts to locate his child via his phone using the tracking device that he’s attached to him. He eventually finds him standing behind him.
The woman from Blackburn starts telling me a story about how she got “rat-arsed” the night that Blackburn won the Premier League in the mid-nineties. It’s time to leave. I finish my drink and out of the corner of my eye witness my Dad hurl his six and a bit year old grandson in to a pub chair, skewering him on the chair leg. Theo runs to Ross in tears. Ross looks at my Dad.
“Sorry. I did’t mean to do that! We were play fighting! He slipped!”
Ross consoles his crying child and we make our way back.
Two minutes later and my Dad has found an orange on the floor. Theo is riding on Ross’s shoulders. My Dad, feeling bad, decides to engage Theo in a bit if harmless ball/orange game fun. He hurls the orange at Theo. It hits him on the nose. Theo screams.
“Dad!” says Ross.
“Sorry! I didn’t mean to do that! It was going to miss, but he moved his nose with pace towards the orange!”
“Please stop beating up my son.” pleads Ross.
“I’ll try.” says Dad.
We walk home. Once there I check Mila’s socks haven’t come off in bed, and fall asleep dreaming of ten metre wide metal heads