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Middle’s knee is shredded, just like my nerves

So how does Middle Child, with no bank card, money or phone, propose to get home from the airport when he lands back in Scotland? Walk? Hitch? OK, I’ll have to pick him up. It’s the parent thing to do, and I admit I’m keen to see him - check out those tatts.

That’s if he arrives - who knows if he was even allowed onto the flight since he didn’t have a phone to show the pdf of the boarding pass I Facebook messaged him after I’d paid and checked him in online. And he probably couldn’t print it out as his rural hideout has patchy wifi, of course. Technological advance, doesn’t it just make everything so much easier? Not.

Still, I remain calm and repeat my parenting mantra, “It’ll all be fine”, as my left arm erupts in an anxiety rash on the way to the airport.

I spot him immediately, waiting chilled out at arrivals as the stressheads steam past him, a dreamy smile playing among his whiskers. He’s wearing a tattered greatcoat that puts me in mind of War and Peace’s Pierre Bezukhov on the long prisoner march through the snow after he’s been captured by the French.

He sees me. He smiles. Big hugs. Aw.

“What’s that smell?”

“What smell?”

I think it’s goat.

He struggles with his luggage so I grab the case as he winces.

“That’ll be those stupid tattoos, festering no doubt.”

“Naw, they’re fine. It’s my knee. I was longboarding back from town and went round a corner then looked behind me and thought ‘oh, that car I overtook still hasn’t appeared, I must be going quite fast, better slow down’, but slowing down made me fall off.’

“Just don’t tell me,” I say.

He reveals a knee; gashed, scabbed and filthy.

“Just don’t show me.”

He smiles a huge smile.

‘As long as there is life there is happiness. There is a great deal, a great deal still to come,’ as Tolstoy wrote, and probably shouted to Mrs Tolstoy (mother of 13) through the locked bathroom door where she’d retreated with a bottle of vodka.