Magazine article The Spectator

Adolescent Perversity

Magazine article The Spectator

Adolescent Perversity

Article excerpt

I've taken my boy and his half-brother to a lovely spot on the north Cornwall coast for a week's holiday. Turn left out of the caravan and you're in that magical, peculiarly Celtic countryside so beloved by John Betjeman, who lies in a tiny churchyard half a mile away. Turn right and walk 20 paces and you're squinting at golden sands and dazzling surf.

So what do my boy and his half-brother, the great lummoxes, do all day? They sit in the caravan, stuffing their spotty adolescent faces with crisps and biscuits and watching daytime TV. Because there is a problem with the septic tank, we are supposed to be patronising the communal lavatories in the nearby social club, instead of using the one in the caravan. And do they fall into line with this one small request? No, sir.

I've managed to winkle them out of the caravan just once, with an offer of a four-hour 'bottom trip', advertised by the skipper of a local fishing boat. On the day, however, the skipper had to cancel his bottom trip owing to lack of interest, and we signed up at the last minute for a rival skipper's two-hour mackerel-fishing trip. Foolishly, I imagined we were taking the less ambitious option. But what this skipper didn't tell us till we were bobbing violently about three miles off-shore with our rods out was that nobody has caught a mackerel off the north Cornwall coast since last year. Normally, the mackerel come in late April or May, he said, when the sea warms up. They were here at Easter last year, but that was most unusual. If we caught a mackerel today, he'd be very surprised. Then it started to rain and he disappeared inside his snug cockpit and left us to it.

By the time, to everyone's joy and relief, he re-emerged to announce, 'Rods in, ladies and gentlemen. Time to go home, I'm afraid,' even the acne on my boy's face had a greenish tinge. It was the most fruitless, demoralising, nauseating 60 minutes I think I have ever spent.

After this rude buffeting from the elements, my boy and his half-brother returned to their respective comfy chairs in front of the TV with a vengeance. Conversation - never sparkling - became confined to Jeremy Paxman-like explosions of irate scorn at even my innocuous pleasantries. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.