My parents have been friends with the Powells for longer than I can remember. I certainly don’t know how the relationship began, but I can see why it did – a shared sense of the ridiculous, two families of adopted children and a love of a good party are just three of the reasons I can think of.
Another shared interest is in moving house. At a rough count, my parents have had 11 homes since 1975. You might think that sounds a lot, but it is nothing compared to Val and Bob. Every time I hear of them they seem to have a new address. There’s a standing joke in our family that Mum and Dad move when Mum runs out of walls to knock down or relocate, but I swear that Val and Bob move when their current place needs dusting.
One of the things that has characterised Powell houses, though, is that there has usually been a large garden. And having a large garden means that you can have a large party. Which, occasionally, I have been lucky enough to be invited to.
The last one of these happened a while back, not long after I had left university. At the time Val and Bob lived on top of a hill, with a patch of land that ran down towards the bottom of it. The land was divided between a garden and a paddock for however many horses their daughters had persuaded them to own at that point. For reasons which I’ve never understood (and which, I hasten to add, the Powell family had nothing to do with, as it was like that when they bought it) the division ran down the hill, rather than across it. This meant that there was a long narrow garden running away downhill.
However, it was also a great place for a party, and on this warm day the Powells had invited all of their friends and their friends’ children to come along.
As almost never happens in these situations, a game of American Football broke out. I have no idea why, although I know that the football was ours and that many of the male guests, of all ages, were involved.
Dad and I were on opposite sides and, at some point, I tackled him. Not that hard. Not even, as I recall, hard enough to knock him over, but at the same time hard enough to leave him a little bit shaken and winded (and bear in mind that he was, at the time, younger than I am now). Neither of us thought anything of it, although the game petered out pretty soon afterwards.
In fact, I had put the matter entirely out of my mind until, a couple of weeks later, Mum spoke to me about it. And told me that I had cracked a couple of Dad’s ribs.
I am sure that, at the time, I thought this was very amusing. In which case karma got me back a few years later when the same thing happened to me playing rugby, something I still bear the scars of today, in the form of a nice patch of dead tissue on my left hand side.
This post is dedicated to my dad, who broke his collarbone in several places on Sunday. Playing American Football. Against me.