Man & Boy
Giles Coren on fathers (him) and sons (Sam). This month: good manners
i was driving the kids to school this morning, five-year-old Sammy in the front, battling through his Biff, Chip and Kipper, seven-year-old Kitty in the back sucking her thumb and reading Der Mann ohne Eigenschaften in the original German because Musil’s unique weltschmerz just doesn’t come across in the translations, when I caught the eye of a pedestrian approaching a zebra crossing, and braked to allow him to cross.
And then he crossed, eyes front. Not a thankyou wave, not a nod, not a smile. And I seethed inside, as I do every time that happens.
“There are two types of people in the world, Sam,” I said aloud. “People who thank you when you stop to let them cross the road. And cunts.”
“What’s that, Dad?” said Sam, looking up from his book.
“I said, there are two types of people in the world: people who thank you when you stop to let them cross the road. And… er, really, really horrid people.”
“No you didn’t, Dad,” said Kitty from the back. “You said… ”
“But you said…”
“No I didn’t!”
“Didn’t what?” said Sam.
“Say what Kitty thinks I said.”
“But you did!”
“No I didn’t.”
“What does Kitty think you said?”
“He said ‘cunts’.”
“Why did you say ‘cunts’, Dad?”
“He did, Sam.”
“Kitty, I did not say ‘cunts’ because this is not a column about the time I said ‘cunt’ in front of Sam and he asked me what it meant. I might do that next month and go on to write about teaching your son to swear, because if you’re going to do it then you might as well do it properly. But this one is about the importance of thanking drivers who stop for you on zebra