Sitting with the windows open, I hear the sounds of late summer. But what am I hearing exactly? The crack of leather on willow? The thock of ball on racquet? Actually, it is the sound of coughing.
More specifically, it is the sound of my teenage son, sprawled in front of daytime telly and presenting like some Victorian consumptive.
Should I do what the Victorians did – send him on a rest cure to a distant land where he might benefit from a change of air while mingling with fellow sufferers. But I am forgetting; I already did that.
For some reason, I missed out on music festivals. So when the lad said he wanted to camp on an island in the Danube and listen to music with his mates, I came over all Woodstock and sent him on his way.
Would he need a tent? A groundsheet? A sleeping bag? Stop worrying, old man. These details would all be sorted. And besides, this was Hungary not Somerset. It was positively balmy this time of year.
Barmy more like. By the time they got to Budapest, the camping gear had sold out, so the six of them slept in the open, on the ground. If they slept at all, that is.
And now listen to him, wracked with the sort of cough you know you will end up taking to the GP, even though he will sigh about guidelines and make it clear that people who demand antibiotics for the slightest sniffle are a bigger threat to humanity than Isis.
‘At least he won’t be doing that again,’ said my mum as she slipped some notes into a card that read ‘So glad about your A-level grades, grandson’. The poor soul understands even less than I do.
There was a pause in the coughing as I gave him the card. ‘There’s this kind of end-of-summer festival I wouldn’t mind going to next week,’ he spluttered as he weighed up his winnings. ‘Thought I might put this towards a ticket?’