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He’s a Bloody Nightmare, That Boy

The Family on the Train – July 2006
Monday morning I took the train from London to Darlington, sitting next to the mother of a family of four children that was returning to Peterborough from their holiday in somewhere that had required them, that morning, to land at Gatwick. This woman was short and slim and elegantly dressed in a shopping-mall kind of way and had a London accent and handled her children, one of whom had a learning disability, brilliantly, with firmness and kindness and respect, while her old man sat at a seat nearby (for the train was crowded and they each had to sit in separate places) and complained that that Matthew, where is he? He’s a bloody nightmare, that boy. Matthew was the lad with the learning disability and was obviously a bit given to going walkabout, as his mother so neatly put it. The eldest of the four children, a girl, was in stroppy teenager mode, and I thought that in a way this was inevitable, she was copying her mum, who had to be firm and determined and bossy to keep this jumpy troop in order, (hyper partly on account of their having been to McDonalds for breakfast, I did suspect), and this firmness was interpreted by the youth as stroppy behaviour to emulate, such as when she wanted to buy a drink from the buffet and her mum said no, you’ve had your breakfast, and I’m not giving you any money! It got quite dull after Peterborough, and I tried to concentrate on the newspaper I’d bought at Kings Cross, but with the entertainment departed I nodded off until York.


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