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Stumbling around the channels the other night I came across one of my favourite television series Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. I have it on DVD but I watched it anyway, and towards the end of this concluding episode when they have worked out who the villain of the peace is, the traitor and one of the men is surprised and tries to hit the traitor. Afterwards he apologises to the hero for losing his cool and explains how upset he was by the identity of the traitor – he had been an idol to him. The hero tells him, “you just grew up.”
My young sons will realise that I am a flawed idiot at some point in the next 10 years. May be sooner, may be later. The saddest thing about this moment will be that that they, like everyone else, will get annoyed because they still want a hero and the fact that I am not that hero will mean they will be even more teed off at their poor deranged pops.
A classic example of this is Nelson Mandela. Like many recently deceased famous humans a lot of people are currently creating a huge myth around Mandela, and I am not saying that he was not a remarkable human being. Nevertheless the inevitable cycle of pedestal creation, monumemtal erection and then steady acidic corrosion through scandal, allegation, revision and revelation hovers like a dog round a dinner bowl.
Already the great powerful aura that surrounds me as a Dad threatens to flicker out at any time. At night time I am asked each evening before lights out if I can make sure that a long list of hideous potential threatening creatures that are lining up to throw themselves at the windows, climb the drainpipes or attempt an aggressive attack by removing roof slates and lifting up the loft door. I must check the front and back door. I must peer through the misted windows to monitor the possibility of that any of the big toothed bastards aren’t loitering on the front wall. Each night the list stretches longer and longer. And as it gets longer I know the belief in my ability to protect gets stretched as well. Don’t forget, Daddy, the sharks, Daddy. Ok. Daddy, don’t forget the big, brown bears, Daddy. OK. Daddy, don’t forget the Number taker, Daddy. OK, the Number taker. The doubt follows me out the door as I shut it tight and licking my ankles, and scenting my evening.
It will be sad, I suppose, may be even heart-breaking, to fall from grace becomes a cliff diving exhibition. I hope Nelson is ready for it.