“It’s OK, I understand,” I muttered. “Sometimes you just need to take one for the team.”
My wife sounded sympathetic over the phone, “I’m really sorry. You know I’d love to go but I just can’t make it.”
What was the catastrophe that had befallen me? Well, it was something that most parents (mums at least) would have given their right arm for. I was going to go to the Strictly Come Dancing Children in Need special.
The original plan had been for my wife, Clare to take the kids along with our friend Jane and her two kids Cameron and Logan. However, her back was in such bad shape there was no way she could make the trip down to London and sit in a studio for several hours.
Now some of you may know that my dislike of Strictly is legendary. I think I have been quoted as saying, “I would rather sandpaper my meat and two veg than watch that.” Nevertheless, there I was in the hospitality tent of at BBCs Elstree studios waiting to be taken into the studio.
We were shuffled in. We were getting VIP treatment because both Arun and Cameron were in their wheelchair (you see, having cerebral palsy does have some upsides). We were shown to our seats right at the front of the audience, opposite the judges – box seats.
And that’s when it happened. Arun decided to come out in sympathy with his father. I’m not sure whether it was the lights, the hubbub of the audience or the big studio but he just kicked off.
“I want to go out!” he cried, tears streaming down his face. “I want to go back to the car!” he sobbed.
I tried to settle him down but after ten minutes Decided that it wasn’t fair on him. He wasn’t a strictly fan and would probably get very little from it: I needed to take him out. Glancing at Jane and leaving my daughter Meri perched on her lap, I wheeled Arun out.
So, instead of watching the strictly special, I spent a rainy Saturday afternoon walking around Elstree with my son whilst I waited for the recording to finish. Whilst maybe not sandpapering my privates it was almost as excruciating. The highlight was a tour round the local Tesco superstore. It wasn’t the best use of a Saturday I can remember.
A week later, we settled down to watch Children in Need. At the end of the dances the camera panned around and stopped focussing on Cameron, Logan, Jane and Meri. They were clapping furiously, their faces enthralled by the spectacle. When Jane told me that Cameron had said a big thank you for “making his dreams come true.” I decided that perhaps it had been worthwhile after all.
As I said, sometimes being a dad means you just have to take one for the team.
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