Tag Archives: friendship

Mr. Confidence

15 Aug

Z, grinning, coming off slide with rubber ring. Poring Hot Springs, Kinabalu Park, Sabah, Borneo, Malaysia.

[tweetmeme source=”@mummy_t” only_single=false]Sometimes, something happens which makes you look at your child with new eyes.

This morning, Z and I were at Poring Hot Springs, the sulphurous waters which seethe out of the jungly lowlands in the shadow of Mount Kinabalu. They function, if not as a panacea, at least as a salve for muscles recovering from ascending 800-plus metres of said mountain then descending more than 2 kilometres of it.

In a single day.

After a 2am start. Continue reading

Backpacks and Zacpacks

27 May

Z with his new backpack on the pier of Cat Ba island, Vietnam

A brand new backpack!


One of the reasons for the longish silence I’ve been keeping is that Z’s dad joined us in Vietnam this last weekend.

The boy, it would be fair to say, is overjoyed. They’ve enjoyed quality time in arcades… pavement eateries… Hanoi’s really rather A-list waterpark… Vietnam’s first university, the Temple of Literature… And are currently chilling out on a very pretty beach on Cat Ba island, Halong Bay.

Z’s père arrived bearing gifts. A new backpack (a Deuter Fox 30, with all the functionality of an adult pack but tailored to his small frame). Books and goodies from my parents and my auntie, including E. H. Gombrich’s A Little History of the World. Continue reading

Messing About in Boats – Part 2

17 Mar

It is pretty much a given, in rural South-East Asia, that falang (and, I guess, locals too) in need of a bed for the night will eventually find someone prepared to put them up.

So, as the sunset pink fades from the Mekong, the night fishermen come out and we moor our increasingly sodden skiff on a promising-looking stretch of bank on another substantial island which does not appear on our map, there is no hint of the Straw Dogs about the encroaching dark. It’s just an adventure. Continue reading

You are Nine, Going on Nineteen

3 Mar

So Z got dumped by his girlfriend. Or did he? It came up the first time in a moment of anxiety atop a sand dune in Mui Ne.

“I think A doesn’t want to go out with me anymore. Or then again, maybe she’s joking. I don’t think she meant it,” he says.

“Meant what?” I say.

“Meant what she said in her email. She said, ‘You mustn’t swear. We’re splitting up.’”

We discuss the email. I make soothing noises. We move on.

Late this evening, after Z has dined, drawn and made an insane YouTube video starring the beachball and my lipstick, I hear the unmistakably old-school ring of Skype.

“What are you doing?” I say. “Didn’t I say it’s bedtime?”

“I’m Skyping A,” he says. “She’s online now!”

A muffled, crackling conversation ensues, after which he seems much happier, although he is eagerly awaiting an email.

“So is everything alright between you and A now?” I ask.

“I don’t know,” he says. “We didn’t talk about it. But she seemed totally fine on the phone. So I don’t think we can be splitting up.”

“You know you’ll always be friends?” I say. (They have known each other since she was born and he was six months old.)

“I know,” he says. “That makes me feel much better.”

They grow up fast. My lord, they really do.

A Tryst Arranged

24 Feb

One quiet evening, Francois’ brother played Mendelssohn on the balcony of our Phnom Penh guesthouse, and he played it well.

Francois is a writer, two young children, separated. The brother is an artist and musician, living in Cambodia, getting by. The kids are skiing with their mother. He is in PP with a friend.

It is a little after midnight, the brother is long gone, and Francois and I are talking French on the roof terrace, as the staff sleep behind their screen.

His friend, he tells me, is déficient. He cannot read. He cannot write. He needs help to cross the road. Continue reading