Regrets. I've had a few. (Loads, really. But that doesn't scan so well.) One came back when I was back in blighty. Sorting mum's photos with my siblings.
I've two brothers. I rarely see the elder, Eddie. He's much older, born in 1939. He drifted in and out of Sunday visity days of cake, pop and sixpence in your hand if you didn't cheek or puke.
I've always envied him.
Dave, a year and nine months* my senior, I know much better. My first time down the pub was with Dave. The Wing for Barnsley Bitter, I'd hope. More likely The Castle and Falcon or another of Newark's 30-odd Courage pubs. Where the beer was bright, but electric. Watch that diaphragm go. Go. go. Four pints and I was puking. Not cheeking. I'm polite, me.
Andrew, my eldest son has just turned fifteen. One more year and we can share a beer in the pub.
It was a tradition. 18th birthday, dad took you down the pub for your first pint. A working-class rite of passage. Entry to the adult world.
My father died when I was fourteen. I never had that first pint with dad.
The gallons I may have drunk before wouldn't have mattered. That first symbolic pint. I wish I'd had it. Eddie did. That's why I envy him.
For Andrew it may not mean much. But when, in August 2012, I drag him to a pub and make him drink a beer, I'll be thinking of my dad. The first Andrew Kempton.
* Younger brothers have this precision.
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