Dickens, Dombey and Dad

When I first started writing this blog back in 2010, my Dad was concerned because he thought only perverts wrote on the internet. Now,  when the mood strikes him, he writes a post for me. To put on the internet. And no, he is not a pervert.
He is a Viking!
From time to time, something triggers in me an urge to express a reminiscence or opinion about life. I remember blog-guesting for Mrs Woog about “Nature letting you down slowly”, but I am now minded to address the beginning and early years of life. (As a legacy of growing old, my long term recollections and memories are far better that that of recent events).


In this instance, seeing all the grandchildren on the one day, which has happened twice in the last month, evokes in me the vision of the kaleidoscope of experiences which awaits them in life.


The experience was heightened by hosting the three Ryan grandchildren for a couple of days and wondering at their energy, savviness, grasp of technology, sophistication, and the apparent innocence reflected in them and the Woogettes.


When I was a young man I studied a Charles Dickens novel – Dombey and Son. Dombey, a merchant, “lived” in the 19th Century and was desperate for a son and heir, to “take his rightful place in the firm”.


Young Dombey eventually arrived, and Dickens conjured up in his writing the following scene of Dombey Senior observing the newly-born Dombey:


“Dombey sat in the corner of the darkened room in the great
arm-chair by the bedside, and Son lay tucked up warm in a little
basket bedstead, carefully disposed on a low settee immediately in
front of the fire and close to it, as if his constitution were
analogous to that of a muffin, and it was essential to toast him brown
while he was very new.

Dombey was about eight-and-forty years of age. Son about
eight-and-forty minutes. Dombey was rather bald, rather red, and
though a handsome well-made man, too stern and pompous in appearance, to be prepossessing. Son was very bald, and very red, and though (of course) an undeniably fine infant, somewhat crushed and spotty in his general effect, as yet.



On the brow of Dombey, Time and his brother Care had set some marks, as on a tree that was to come down in good time – remorseless twins they are for striding through their human forests, notching as they go – while the countenance of Son was crossed with a thousand little creases, which the same deceitful Time would take delight in smoothing out and wearing away with the flat part of his scythe, as a preparation of the surface for his deeper operations.”


The concept of a baby, often born wrinkled and red, having their wrinkles slowly  and laboriously smoothed out by Time, but only for the purpose of inflicting some more serious wrinkles and frowns in later life as a result of many cares, has always been for me a very powerful metaphor.


And so I express admiration for the parents and grandparents who are daily bewitched by Mrs Woog, her fellow bloggers, and their “perceptions of the mundane”. I think the daily exchange of views, predominantly about children, must be of immense help to you all.

Guiding your children around the pitfalls daily before them is a responsibility of epic proportions. Behaviour, diet, company, road rules, pool dangers, language, and the other entire daily bevy of experiences and often dangerous situations which confronts parents and their children every day is truly formidable and capable of testing the patience of a Saint.


The world wide web, smart phones and emails further stretch the limits to which parents have to go to properly monitor and protect their children.


As for you grandparents out there, if you are like me you probably try too hard to please the kids when you are lucky enough to have them with you. I have come to the conclusion that kids are simplex and not complex.


I am not referring to their level of intelligence but to the fact that their pleasures seem inevitably to come from much different sources than those of adults.  Certainly my grandchildren are presently showing no inclination towards Carlton Draught, racehorses and English Premier League.


I can certainly learn from them. For one thing, I have learned to keep my mouth shut and listen to them. The rewards are great.


So let’s hope that the wrinkles and creases of countenance promised by “Time and his brother Care” are minimised in your own children and grandchildren by your help to them to avoid the daily pitfalls of life.


Some random thoughts by a fairly wrinkled Dad of Mrs Woog,
partly preserved by Nivea products.