The teens had offered their parents a half-baked story about planning a camping trip to Snowdonia. | wikipedia


One of the hardest things for parents is allowing their precious offspring to fly the nest. For years, you hopefully enjoy a wonderfully close relationship with your child or children, protecting them as best you can, and then in a whisper they are almost grown up and ready to spread their wings.

I remember when my son turned 17 years of age. It was a challenging time for him and his classmates (and us!). They were intelligent, fun, full of testosterone and mischief and on the cusp of adulthood. He and his chums were at a rural boarding school in the UK and part of the thrill was to break the rules without being discovered. At times it could be wearing, especially when his housemaster would call late on a Saturday night to say that, for example, he’d been caught taking delivery of a Domino Pizza and Cola outside a highbrow private address where he pretended to reside. He also started his own tuckshop to rival the one run by the school, and at the age of 18 was caught smoking with his peers under a famed old oak tree. One night, he and his cheeky chums, had a secret party at the school and he thumbed a lift in the early hours with as complete stranger who dropped him off near a motorway.

He managed to walk along the motorway at four in the morning, find the village, scale a wall of the house and get in through his bedroom window. I had been frantic with worry and yet found him curled up asleep in his bed come the morning. He couldn’t remotely understand why I’d been worried. For him it was just another minor adventure.

And let’s not discuss our son’s international wanderings. At 17 he won a place on an Operation Raleigh expedition for eight weeks to Costa Rica building schools in the jungle with locals and living rough. He thrived on it. As soon as he returned, he began plotting solo trips via a new site back then called During his Easter and Summer holidays, he went all over Europe with only a rucksack staying at strangers’ homes for free and had an absolute ball. He was a rebel with a cause and adored foreign culture, people, and travel and was fiercely independent. If he got stuck for money, he’d find work giving out promotional flyers or working on a market stall wherever he ended up. When I despaired about it all, old friends were quick to remind me of my own rebellious travel trajectory from a very young age, travelling to remote climes and once travelling across land to Morocco before I was 17 with my sister, while my poor mother was tricked into thinking we were in Spain. So, when I read about the hugely tragic discovery of four dead young boys aged only 17 who’d set off on an ill-fated mission to Snowdonia, it broke my heart.

The teens had offered their parents a half-baked story about planning a camping trip to Snowdonia. It appeared to be vague. What was supposed to be a high-jinks, fun weekend ended in tragedy when the car missed a bend on a wet road and ended up upside down in a ditch. It’s horrendous to think that they lay dead and undiscovered in the car for 48 hours. Equally, it is impossible to imagine how the poor parents will process the grief, shock and horror of the discovery.

The point is that young people do crazy things. They truly believe that they are invincible, and life is one big and fun adrenalin rush. How do I know? Because I was at times a bullish, foolish risk taker in my youth and was always looking for the next adventure. I think back to how many guardian angels must have spent precious hours holding their heads and silently begging me to see reason, but no, I carved my own obstinate way.

So it is that some of us, despite hair-raising adventures, survived the odds to live another day while tragically, others weren’t so lucky. The only cold comfort for the poor bereaved parents is that their beloved children died together and hopefully pretty quickly. Many teens will have done similar crazy things and survived. We cannot wrap our children in cotton wool, and they have to be allowed to live life to the full.

Sad stories like this serve to remind us not to sweat the small stuff as life can be cut short in a whisper. Despite the habitual struggles, we should try our hardest, against the odds, to make the most of each day.

NHL: San Jose Sharks at Vancouver Canucks
Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex watch the Vancouver Canucks play against the San Jose Sharks at Rogers Arena. Photo: photo: Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports

Dad dancing with the royals

I always feel sorry for the royals when they’re caught having to do incredibly embarrassing things such as trying their hand at a tricky sport or making something in a factory while the cameras flash. The worst though surely has to be dancing. I happened to see a video of the Sussexes attempting to dance at a recent ice hockey match in Vancouver with Harry doing that cringe-worthy ‘dad dancing’ which involves gyrating with your fists in the air and an inane grin on your face. In fairness, he did look horribly self-conscious. Oh, the price of fame.

Annoying catch phrases

A survey has shown that some of the most loathed common expressions include phrases such as holibobs, amazeballs, Chrimbo, lolz and totes. I don’t know anyone in my circle who uses these terms, but I do have a list of other expressions that grate. A few include my bad, deep dive, reach out, fur baby and super. The latter, to my shame, I’ve found slipping into my vocabulary as the employees of a company I do consultancy for use the expression all the time.

So, I find myself saying that something is super interesting, or someone is super intelligent, before I upbraid myself and see sense again. It’s incredible or super incredible (!) how expressions can stick when you hear them over and over again. Maybe we need to invent some new ones for the pure fun of it and smile when they start doing the round. How amazeballs would that be.