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The Daily Telegraph - Saturday - - GAMES -

than type “grunt” or “uhh?” as he emails or googles who­ever or what­ever claims his at­ten­tion. So we can in­fer he has the ba­sic ca­pac­ity for di­a­logue.

Sug­ges­tion one. Im­pose a mo­bile phone ban when he and your daugh­ter visit. House rules. All de­vices to be switched off and left on the hall ta­ble. No ex­cep­tions, no de­bates. Ditto tele­vi­sion. If nec­es­sary, re­move the bat­ter­ies from the re­mote be­fore he ar­rives and tell him the TV has stopped work­ing (which will be tech­ni­cally true).

Sug­ges­tion two. Ask your daugh­ter what rings this guy’s bell. He must have some in­ter­ests – does he fol­low a foot­ball team? Is he a fan of a par­tic­u­lar movie genre? Bone up on what­ever it is and hit him with it. Don’t be afraid to wind him up. For ex­am­ple, if he’s a Manch­ester United fan, say some­thing like: “I see the Reds’ new man­ager is on a roll.

To­tal fluke; won’t last. He’ll be out on his ear by March.” If he’s ob­sessed by the Jack Reacher ac­tion films, tell him you think Tom Cruise is ridicu­lously short to play the 6ft 6in lead char­ac­ter.

This isn’t con­ver­sa­tion, it’s elec­troshock ther­apy to gal­vanise the guy into com­mu­ni­cat­ing. Power on! Clear! ZAP!

Good luck. Let me know if you get a co­her­ent sen­tence out of him.

Dear Richard

Our son chose to study at Bris­tol be­cause there is a thriv­ing street art scene, or “graf­fiti” as we used to call it, there. His work has started to win recog­ni­tion and has fea­tured in mag­a­zines and blogs. My hus­band and I have mixed feel­ings about this.

On one level, we’re hugely proud. But on an­other, we wish he could divert his tal­ents in a more con­struc­tive di­rec­tion. We un­der­stand that a small num­ber of these artists win lu­cra­tive com­mis­sions dec­o­rat­ing the fences around un­fin­ished build­ing de­vel­op­ments, or the in­te­ri­ors of restau­rants and bars; but most of them do it for love.

What’s more, there are le­git­i­mate is­sues around safety and le­gal­ity. His grand­fa­ther is dis­gusted by what he is do­ing, not on aes­thetic grounds but be­cause he is foist­ing his work on peo­ple who have not asked to see it – in fact he gave him a bit of a telling-off about it at a re­cent fam­ily gath­er­ing.

Lastly, I am not sure a nice mid­dle­class boy from the West Coun­try has any busi­ness styling him­self as a mem­ber of some crim­i­nal sub­cul­ture, with hood­ies, low-slung jeans, a mono­syl­labic con­ver­sa­tional style and so on. How can we gently steer him away from this path? And should we?


Dear Rose

Firstly, grumpy grandad needs to but­ton it. He’s not even mak­ing any sense: all pub­lic art is “foisted” on us, isn’t it? And all art is con­tro­ver­sial; as Mr Burns suc­cinctly says in The Simp­sons: “I’m no art critic, but I know what I hate.”

I sus­pect you se­cretly hate “street” art. Fair enough. So do I. But you mustn’t try to “gently steer” your son away from his call­ing. He’d sim­ply ig­nore you and he’d be hurt, too.

It’s a bless­ing to have a child who’s found his path. Your son may never bank Banksy’s squil­lions, but he’s found ful­fil­ment. That’s worth ru­bies. Be happy for him.

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