Richard Hearn takes an ill-fated trip to the park
Before Christmas – when the snow had just started to melt – me and The Boy go to Hove Park. “If I stop,” he tells me, “it’s for one of two reasons, OK? I’m tired or I want to put my gloves on.” Along the Old Shoreham Road we step over a Shreddies box, flattened and preserved in a thin sheet of ice. “They should have put that in the recycling or the bin,” he tells me.
“I think it probably came out of the recycling,” I mutter, seeing the black bins nearby. “Or the bin,” he says, keen as ever to have the last word. We slide and skid into Hove Park, navigating our way to the playground like a couple of marbles on a white piece of wood tipped by some giant. The Boy chuckles and slips his way around various pieces of equipment, chattering non-stop. Hove Park is amazingly empty.
After three quarters of an hour, I give him the traditional five minute warning. As he’s been so well-behaved, I allow this to stretch to ten and then fifteen. Then I announce we need to go back, and I just want to take a photograph of a tree. (Have I said I paint trees? See www.richardhearn.co.uk to view my paintings.) He responds with: “You always get to have fun and I don’t get to have any.”
As we head out, he races ahead. A woman walking her dog is between us. Now, in the absence of a diagram, let me explain our respective positions. Me and The Boy are east and west. The woman is north, the dog south. The Boy starts heading the wrong way so I call his name. He doesn’t hear, but the defecating dog looks up. He’s confused, and I realise why when the woman calls out her dog’s name, and it’s the same as The Boy’s! What are the chances of that? It’s also noticeable that the defecating dog is better trained than The Boy in the art of obedience.
“It is noticeable that the defecating dog is better trained than The Boy in the art of obedience”
Someone once said ‘all political careers end in failure’. The same is true for trips to playgrounds. No matter how well they begin, or however many strong individual moments they contain, they always end badly.
Back home I have something on my shoes, either from the defecating dog with the same name as The Boy, or one of his friends (the dog’s, that is). I leave my shoes upturned on the doormat in the hall while I go and get something to wipe them with. In those ten seconds I hear the letterbox clatter and go back to the hall to see two Christmas cards have arrived, one now stuck on each shoe.