I explained that had he been born 100 years ago, he’d be going down the coal mines as we live in Wales. Luckily for him, that was no longer a viable option, so he’d have to look for something else.
Last summer he set himself up as a car-washer, lugging round a bucket and sponge, knocking on doors. He did quite well until he got bored with windscreens and wheel trims.
So with my rousing speech ringing in his ears (it will give you discipline! it’s character-building! you’ll be earning your own money!), he went to the local newsagents and signed himself up for a paper round. He also seems to have signed me up too.
He started on Monday, along with probably the most apocalyptic rain to hit in months. I waved him off at 6.30 am (You can do it!), set my mobile ring tone to loud, made a cup of coffee and waited. Sure enough, within nine minutes, there was an anguished phonecall.
‘Come and rescue me, pleeeeeaaaaase. I’m soaking, I can’t see anything for the rain, my papers are wet and I wanna come home.’
I trudged out to the car and searched for him. There he was, a miserable, hunched figure holding a luminous bag bulging with undelivered papers. He’d managed to cram three soggy newspapers through letterboxes then got lost in the maze of back streets. I set the sat nav and we searched through the driving rain for the remaining houses. By the time we got back home, we were both thoroughly fed up.
After we’d dried off, it was time for another chat (lecture). ‘You should have done a recce the day before. You should have planned your route. Responsibility, discipline, blah, blah, blah.’ We finally came to a tearful agreement. Each day, he would find the next street on his route and I would meet him there, so by the end of the week, he could confidently do the round himself.
I have my reservations how long he’ll last. Just this morning I asked him what he would do when he was in London with his dad one weekend a month. Quick as you like, he replied, ‘well, you’ll do it for me, won’t you?’