Scraping bottom of the email barrel

ONE thing parents of old didn’t have to deal with was an inbox of emails they had to check to make sure a genuine nugget wasn‘t lying among the fool’s gold. Buy something online that’s child-related, or as a journalist show a vague interest in a PR man’s limp offering that might just prove interesting beneath the hype, and you leave yourself open to a blizzard of electronic confetti.

More useful was a missive from a sticking-plaster firm that reckoned children lacked essential life skills and that we parents need to teach them to cope. (When we’re not restocking pencil-cases for the new term, obviously.) I nearly dismissed this one as inbox-clutter – especially when it mentioned a St John Ambulance first aid trainer called Clive James, which conjured up all kinds of surreal images – but it actually offered good pointers. Go to www.elastoplast.co.uk to find videos and advice on issues such as cuts and burns, head injuries and resuscitation.

There’s material to help develop independence, ingenuity and safety, and a Become An Adventurer downloadable thingy with fun activities for kids aged 6-10. There: who says I never give you anything? The award for The Most Desperate PR Bid for Free Publicity goes to Clydesdale and Yorkshire Banks, who in some puffery sent out before Father’s Day reckoned 18% of dads favoured Aston Villa football boss Martin O’Neil’s management style “as the best approach to fatherhood”. How could I have been so blind? I’ll get my kids out in the garden, practising penalties, while I perfect my Irish accent.

The “research” attributed other useful traits to managers: Arsene Wenger is the calm guy, for instance, and was the second-most admired. Further down the league table was Fabio Capello, “the strong disciplinarian” – though there would prove to be precious little harmony among his England “family” at the World Cup.

It all reminded me of something rather hurtful James said when he was six: that he’d like David Beckham to be his dad. To be honest, I wouldn’t mind – if it got me out of having to play football in the garden for hours on end...


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