Reuben Strahan - 18 hours old
A few days ago I had an email from my oldest friend, Ivan Strahan. ’Oldest’ in both senses of the word – Ivan and I were at school and university together in Belfast. Now semi-retired, he lives in the lovely little seaside town of Donaghadee with his gorgeous wife Claire. You may have heard of Donaghadee, perhaps as the chorus of The Old Orange Flute: ‘Toora loo, toora lay, Oh, it’s six miles from Bangor to Donaghadee.’ [I know, it doesn't rhyme!]
Ivan and I are in regular email correspondence. Regular from him at least; I’m a hopeless correspondent. But this email was special. It was to announce the arrival of Ivan and Claire’s first grandchild:
‘The new arrival made an appearance yesterday, 1st March. A baby boy, 8lb. 5oz., fair hair, no complications, mother and baby exceptionally well. Attached photos taken at 18 hours old.’
The new baby’s name is Reuben, a name I happen to be particularly fond of since one of my own grandchildren, and my first male grandchild, is also called Reuben.
Ivan has been a little bit anxious about being a grandfather, so I sought to reassure him by sending him the script of ‘Second Chance Dad’, which I wrote for National Radio’s Top of the Morning programme in 1998. Curiously enough, it was broadcast on the occasion of my own grandson Reuben’s fourth birthday.
Grandchildren are special. Talk to any doting grandparent – and ‘doting’ grandparents are the sole variety – and they will inform you, with absolute assurance, that their grandchild is the most intelligent, the most beautiful, the most talented creature that ever breathed air. Where their children’s children are concerned, grandparents are devoid of modesty, without shame, incapable of rational assessment. The child may be the ugliest thing that nature spawned, it may have the manners of a tomcat, the intelligence of a flea, the personality of a rock, and all the charm of masticated chewing-gum, but to its grandparents it will remain the apotheosis of every human virtue, a thing of beauty, whose loveliness increases and is a joy for ever – to paraphrase Mr Keats. Read the rest of this entry »