Chris Dry: Daddy cool

AS I WRITE, the boy is on study leave, with the last exam of his school career just two days away.

Today I have been privileged to witness his revision at first hand. Without gainsaying the inner turmoil belied by his uncommonly relaxed demeanour, it all looks eminently civilised to me.

For example, it's the back of 12 and he has just surfaced for the first time from his slumbers (with a little unwelcome goading from yours truly). There's the leisurely cooked breakfast followed by a soak in the tub before study begins in earnest... or is that the slapping of his bass guitar I can hear from his bedroom?

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The body must be nourished as well as the mind, and by late afternoon the kitchen testifies to his steady grazing on corn chips and salsa, pizza, choc ices and bottles of pop. He gave up Latin after Standard Grade but still holds to the adage mens sana incorpore sano (a healthy mind in a healthy body), and will probably pop out for an hour or two to do some weights or practice in the cricket nets.

But the exam room is never far from his mind. The day before his French test last week, he spent the afternoon earnestly studying French DVDs at his girlfriend's, including one of my favourites, Jean-Jacques Beineix's Diva. After such information overload, who can blame him if he doesn't hit the hay till long after his dad?

Yes. I admit it. While even the thumbscrews wouldn't get me to resit my A Levels, I'm rather taken with study leave. In fact, not so long ago I tried to arrange some of my own, only to be cruelly snubbed by the world of academia.

But, sympathetic to my plight, Scotland On Sunday has stepped into the breach to offer me some "study leave" of its own. You see, for the first time since I joined the paper as a young man we are to have a completely new digital publishing system. I am to be taken off my normal duties for the next two weeks to learn how to use it.

I'm a little nervous. It would be tedious to rehearse exactly what a production journalist does at his computer, but to use a musical metaphor, transferring from one publishing system to another will be like transposing the Presto Agitato of a Beethoven piano sonata from C# minor into G at sight (expect fortissimo sections to be played extempore with bleeding stumps of fingers and sforzando head butts when we finally go live).

If you feel No 1 son is being a little nonchalant about his study leave, I admit I have taken some imaginative licence in describing it. And you should also know that he has a university place, whatever results he gets.

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I trust Scotland On Sunday will be just as understanding with this old dog's efforts to learn new tricks.

• This article was first published in Scotland on Sunday, June 6, 2010