Man & Boy

Giles Coren on fa­thers (him) and sons (Sam). This month: good man­ners

Esquire (UK) - - Editor’s Letter - Giles Coren

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… ”

“Quiet, Kitty!”

“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’.”

“Oh, Kitty!”

“Why did you say ‘cunts’, Dad?”

“I didn’t.”

“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

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