In an attempt to buy our youngest daughter some unforgettable gifts for her birthday, we certainly achieved our objective, but with the wrong outcomes.
The first gift was supposed to be a high zip-wire experiance through the tops of trees in Dalby Forest. In England, we call anything a forest that has more than twelve trees. Dalby is moderately foresty and the zip-wire is moderately high (or not depending on your zipping experiences – probably not). My wife was going to book it so that she and her three daughters could dangle from the top of the world whilst Dad watched from below; I have an indifference to such activities.
We arrived in the princely car-park of the forest, that is owned by The Forestry Commission, and paid a princely sum of £9.00 for the day’s parking. Lots of other dare-devils were also paying the ransom. In fact, not only were there wire-hangers, but mountain-bikers and ramblers (old-fart Father). For the eye-watering price of over £100 (30 Euros or $25) the girls were planning to zip across the canopy like instant-response Royal Marines or Boris The Clown Johnson.
As luck would have it all places were taken until late on into the afternoon. I think this was a subtle piece of planning as my wife was beginning to get cold-feet about her tree-top terror.
We all went for a good walk. Birthday-girl was not best pleased.
Being a cunning father, I had also bought an unforgettable gift. I pretentiously stated that I wanted to buy a memory, something that could be taken into the coming years and thought back upon with fondness.
We have a little theatre in our home town and what had caught my eye a few days before was an afternoon production, for all the family! It was a little interactive, but hey, we’re a cool family. I snaffled five tickets. My daughters are 22, 19, and 14 years of age. It was going to be an event not to be forgotten.
It was about six in the morning when I broke from sleep. Something had pressed an internal alarm-bell. A question was running through my head.
What if? And the what if was all too fearful to contemplate. What if….? What if this little afternoon divergence was not age-appropriate? I had recently purchased a film about Jack Karouack which I considered appropriate for family viewing. It turned out to be so, but only if said family was a drug-addicted, fornicating, sodemising group of foul-mouthed hipsters. A good film but not quite right for our domestic audience.
My next cultural offering was going to be oh-so safe; a magical adventure called The Three Kingdoms. Now you probably know where this is going.
The afternoon of the treat arrived. I had mainly recovered from my early morning panic-attack and we set off for the short walk into town and an unforgettable birthday experience.
Memories come in all shapes and sizes but the audience for this show just came in the two: mother and grandparents and three to six-year-olds (three for pedants).
We never got to sit on tiny chairs nor chant “he’s behind you” or any such advice. Nevertheless, The Three Kingdoms, and tree-top zip-wires will forever remain in our memories.