Once again I'm away from the family on a business trip. This time I'm at an international conference at which I'm due to give a presentation to delegates from Europe, Africa and North America on a very weighty subject. This seems remarkably foolhardy on the part of my employers as only yesterday I found myself utterly foozled by the simple fact that the Wife has the same surname as me.
We are all, at heart, the children we once were. I suspect that even Stalin wondered how he'd got from a small boy in Georgia to the most feared man in the world. Shortly before polishing Hitler's skull no doubt
I realise I've just compared myself to Stalin.
It doesn't feel like thirty years since I was asking questions like this, from the Girl:
"Mummy, when are we going to Denmark?"
"When are we going to Denmark? No, not Denmark. Where did you say we were going?"
Or, as my Dad always like to recall, the day I asked:
"How many commandments are there in the Ten Commandments? "
The correct answer is eleven, by the way. The last one is the most important: Thoult Shall Not Get Caught.
Still, at least he only told everyone he met about that. He didn't, say, put it on the Internet.
You see, whilst the Kids can be excused their eccentricity because they're kids, my penchant for rampant buffoonery isn't as easy to shake off. I still deal with the world on the level of a six year old, so my life is a constant battle with social ineptitude.
Many years ago I was talking about this with a deeply religious friend, who in turn told me that she felt incredibly awkward talking about sex with her boyfriend because it made her feel dirty.
"Don't worry, I won't tell anyone you're a bit odd."
She said, not unkindly.
"And I won't tell anyone you're frigid. "
I replied in a similar tone.
Apparently that's a no-no. She used words which rhymed with " truck" and "bunt". To this day I'm still a bit baffled about her reaction. And the reaction of everyone I've told about this (normally a whistling inhale of breath and a look of disdain).
She's a nun now, by the way.
Even today I've been crippled with the fear that I'm going to look odd carrying around a packet of chocolate digestives at this conference (I'm a mad man for chocolate digestives). It's only that, by pure luck and that I found the hotel have supplied a little paper bag for such an eventuality.
And it's apparently a "sanitary" bag. So that's good.
* For those of you that live outside of the UK, Southend is like Las Vegas, only with less commitment.