I write this from my studio at the back of our garden in London, to which I have retreated for a few moments to be alone, as “alone” is not easily experienced these days. My wife, Felicity, and I have been sequestered here with our two small children, a boy 5, a girl 2; my three older children (whom I had with my late wife, Kate), a girl 18, boy/girl twins 20; and a girlfriend of theirs from university, who was unable to get to her parents overseas.
Cramming all these people with differing personalities, ages, needs, wants, etc. in a house for six weeks creates for an interesting dynamic. For the most part, things have been going very well, meaning no one has murdered anyone yet, although I am sure one of them is plotting my demise as I type this.
At first, I had grand plans for how we might pass the time in convivial and entertaining ways. I thought perhaps a rotating schedule of cooks for the nightly meal, followed by movies, games, or Bordeaux-fueled charades by the fire. Things didn’t quite work out that way. Instead, here’s what our typical day looks like.
7 a.m. GMT
Within moments of Felicity and I awakening, our 5-year-old is in our room. It’s not clear how he knows we’re awake. For all we know, he has a monitor like the one we use to listen to his 2-year-old sister. He waltzes over to my wife’s side of the bed, completely ignoring me as usual, and begins to chat with her about nothing and everything. (His usual topic is dragons, as he is obsessed with the book series How to Train Your Dragon and its various cinematic spin-offs.) Felicity and I head to the bathroom, and he follows and perches himself on the bidet to regale us with plot points from the novels and observations about the seemingly endless variety of dragons and their specific attributes. He will carry on this way more or less until sunset.