Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

THREE'S A FAMILY; Dad Is Away - So Let's Party!

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

THREE'S A FAMILY; Dad Is Away - So Let's Party!

Article excerpt

Byline: CHRIS BLACKHURST

Dad is away - so let's party!

THE call came as I was on the M6 at Lancaster, more than 250 miles from home. It was the mother of one of my daughter's friends. "Chris, sorry to bother you, but do you know there's a party going on in your house?" I had gone up north for part of half-term with my two sons, leaving my daughter to stay at her mother's. But she wasn't at her mother's; she was at my house, having a full-on bash. According to the phone call, there were more than 30 teenagers in the house, having a ball, and more were arriving.

What could I do? Turn round and drive back? Hardly. Phone the neighbours?

No, why bother them. While I pondered and the two boys started to speculate on the likely penalty (the youngest chanted "punishment, punishment" for days afterwards), the phone went again. It was the Hungarian au pair.

He had come back to find the front door wide open, and: "Kreees, there have been robbers, it is like Hiroshima." I assumed the mother of the friend had read the riot act to them and they had scarpered.

I told the au pair to calm down and to assess the damage. He rang again.

"Kreees, the rats and the hamster - they are gone." What? My eldest's pet rats and the youngest's hamster had vanished. My God. Then he called again: people had been in the bedrooms and the door to mine was locked. It's a curious sensation, being hundreds of miles away from home, knowing your house has been turned upside down. I told the au pair to calm down, again, and rang my ex-wife. She said she'd go round and find out what was going on.

Then, nothing. I continued to drive though the tranquil Cumbrian countryside while my house was resembling a nuclear wasteland. Another call, from home. My daughter had locked the rats, hamster and breakables in my bedroom. So that was okay. But what about Hiroshima? My daughter had returned and was now cleaning up. It took her four hours.

Later, when I spoke to her, she was full of remorse. She was intending to go swimming with a friend when, unannounced, other friends turned up at the house. More arrived and a party got under way. …

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