Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Love That Keeps Giving In

Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Love That Keeps Giving In

Article excerpt

Love is...sleeping with your pet hamster and accidentally crushing it to death during the night. This happened to my old school mate Derek "Ashtray" Ashmore in the late 1960s.

It was a deeply distressing experience for boy and rodent alike. And the reason it happened is because, in the words of the Bard, Ashtray loved Hammy not wisely but too well. This was something he had learned from his parents.

Mr and Mrs Ashmore had almost given up on having a child when, against all medical expectations, little Derek arrived. Assuming he must be a gift from God, they lavished presents on him and gave in to his every demand.

The benefits were great for those of us who were lucky enough to be counted among Ashtray's friends. They included access to unlimited sweets, the right to play with the biggest collection of Matchbox cars outside of Hamleys, and a licence to scorch round a Scalextric track the size of Silverstone.

It was obvious on my first visit to his house that Ashtray's parents weren't like mine. When he slammed his plate down and refused to eat those delicate little fish-paste sandwiches with their crusts cut off, his mum smiled adoringly down at him and gave him a four-finger KitKat instead.

It would have been a curled-up-at-the-edges day in fish-paste sandwich hell before my mum would have done that. But then her parenting techniques were of the non-negotiable variety.

I am reminded of Ashtray by Relitsa. Not because she was a gift from God, but because she's stubborn. Right now she is refusing to write. …

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