This is a scheduled post as I am currently away until Tuesday.
Our eldest son is 35 today. It makes me feel old that I have a son in his mid-thirties. Leon now has laughter lines around his eyes. He is quick-witted and has a great East-End sense of humour. There has been much laughter over the years.
However, it hasn’t always been plain sailing. Leon was a hyperactive child and was often described as ‘distracted and distracting’ in school reports. When he was four he decided it was a good idea to jump from the top of the staircase to the bottom, necessitating the first of many visits to A&E. He was always the class clown who knew how to wind people up the wrong way. One teacher used to send him out as soon as he went into the classroom, knowing that sooner or later he would play up. He was suspended from his middle school for a few days due to cutting a chunk from a girl’s hair. The girl had also cut Leon’s hair and had told him he would never amount to anything.
He wasn’t academic, hated school, and didn’t want to go to university. He left school aged still 15 and took up a four-year engineering apprenticeship with a company who also paid for him to attend college one day a week. He passed all his electrician’s exams with distinction, and loved the job. He grew up overnight.
He’s filled out somewhat from the skinny teenager who saved his apprentice wages of £57.60 every week and bought a 50cc motorcycle when he was 16. The bike got him back and forth to his job as a trainee air-conditioning engineer most days, but there was a rainy day when it broke down and he had to push it to the office where I worked to grab a lift in Mum’s taxi. Dripping wet and sweaty, he still managed to grin as he stood there in the rain (he would never wear any protective clothing).
One day he phoned to tell me he’d be home late, as his workmates had winched the bike up to the rafters and he had to wait for them to return from their various jobs as he didn’t know how to get it down again. He took the teasing all in good part, especially when one lad took him to a job and asked him to open a grille that when he did so covered him in soot. He gave the lads backchat, hid their toolboxes, made them revolting tea and coffee, and failed to throw up when they took him to a sausage factory as part of his initiation rites. Within a few months he was one of the lads.
As he grew older and earned more money as a manager, the bikes became bigger. He finished his apprenticeship and changed jobs so that he would not always be thought of as ‘The Boy’. Nowadays he roars up on a 1000cc Honda Fireblade in full leather gear, older and wiser after having fallen off the 50cc bike one too many times wearing only jeans and a tee-shirt. When his two daughters are arguing and fighting, he escapes on the bike, rides into his man-cave, and returns home when the furore has died down. Here’s a photo of Leon on the bike he had before the Fireblade.
I have given birth to one of life’s alpha males. Leon’s voice is like a foghorn, and you know when he’s about. He spends his days checking up on all the engineers under his management, and gives them short shrift if they’re not doing their jobs properly. His favourite saying goes something like this:
“If you know a better way of doing it, fine; let me know. Until then, do it my way!”
Happy birthday Leon. You definitely amounted to something – love you! x