You cannot tie a man down. There is always a 'call'. Sometimes it is a siren song; sometimes a shout to get out of the way. Of late there have been many men crossing borders around the Mediterranean in a modern invasion of Europe from the Middle East, but the talk in the bar today was not about that.
MGTOWs - those Men's Advocates who eschew marriage and 'statism', most often don't go very far at all, but a few do move across and between Continents. One's 'Roots' have a hold on the feet most often for most people although it is not uncommon for Fathers to tell their sons to 'see the World'. Daughters too.
Of course, back in my youger day it was common for a father with a bit of land to his name to be rather more blunt with his sons. To preserve the property he could only leave it to one - usually the eldest - to keep it all together. So the second + sons had to leave. A Horse, saddle and sword to one and send him on his way; a letter of Introduction to a Monastery for another.
One modern Dad, Charlie Wooley, a local chap, was in today half-bemoaning his failure to keep his son at home, but also looking on the bright side. There always is one if you look hard enough. Tasmania is a beautiful place but young folk can find almost any excuse to see if there are other beautiful places beyond the horizon. Beautiful faces often are an impetus.
On the lakeside of loveMY fiendishly cunning and manipulative plan to keep my eldest son Dave in Tasmania has gone terribly wrong. Last week he left me.The little redhead, for years my best mate, was always up for an adventure, splashing around the shallows of my favourite Tasmanian trout lakes in waders many sizes too big. Little Dave was always the first into the water and the last out. But now, at 22, he has gone.This is a Tasmanian predicament so I know I am not Robinson Crusoe on our small island.
Many of you are parents who have suffered the heartache of your kids spreading their wings and, in time, it will surely happen to all of us. It’s the price of living here.And I have to admit they would be dull and unexciting offspring if they didn’t follow that impulse to fly away and see the world.
The problem is, too often they don’t come back – or at best they stay away too long. I did it to my parents and now it’s happening to me.My clever plan was to imprint Tasmania’s beautiful watery landscapes deep in little Dave’s suggestible young mind.Since he was four I have filled him with irrepressible memories of our highland lakes in the slanting afternoon light when the grasslands glow golden and the white gums reflect blindingly in rippled waters.
And of trout finning in the shallows at first light with the tentative fingers of dawn creeping across the eastern hills while a cold, wet mist rises like an army of wraiths from the slate-grey morning waters.Bird chorus and the sound of lake water lapping would surely be the siren song to forever keep him home.Like some controlling religious zealot, I believed if I got him early enough I would have him for life.I got two things wrong. The genetic wanderlust that has for generations afflicted my family is seemingly a call that cannot be denied.And then there is an even more potent and unstoppable force:
love.My boy has left me, not just to see the world but, even more confounding, he has left me for a woman.Veronica is a beautiful and charming Italian girl and my lucky boy is hopelessly smitten, just as she is with him.Only my maudlin selfishness stops this from being a happy story.As a man whose frequent travel meant I was rarely home for important occasions, it was ironic I was here in River City and having a beer with Dave on the night he first met his inamorata.I was also with a visiting colleague, Ray Martin, when Dave came back from the Salamanca bar with a round of drinks and announced, “I have just fallen in love”.The girl who had served him was on a working holiday from Italy. Ray and I laughed at what we thought was a cute and amusing youthful infatuation.I little realised all my hard work, all those years of brainwashing and conditioning, had been undone in an instant.From that moment, until Veronica’s working visa ran out, the two were inseparable.When she finally had to leave Tasmania, Dave took a month’s holiday and joined her in Italy.
There, things got much worse.Now, not only did he love the girl but he loved Italy as well. And remember how I had made him susceptible to the watery charms of lakes? Well, that part of my plan had gone horribly astray.Turns out her parents own a hotel on Lago di Garda, the largest lake in Italy and one of the most beautiful in the world.
If all of that is not confounding enough, Veronica’s parents had also out-schemed me.Defecting children are apparently a universal problem.To keep their daughter at home in the mountains of Northern Italy they had given her a 25 per cent share of their beautiful Hotel Stella d’Oro, in the Lombardy region.
Travel writers over-exuberantly gush about the town Tremosine – “one of the most beautiful villages in Italy” and “the most spectacular drive in the world” – where the family pub overlooks a dramatic 150km of mountainous shoreline.Grudgingly, I might add, the hotel also has a most inviting-looking swimming pool and a reputation for local wines, cheeses and cured meats.
Google the place, as I did, and tell me if you think my little boy will ever be seen back here. I have serious doubts.Children are such heartbreak. Fortunately, I carry a few spares – among them two daughters who have returned to the Tasmanian coop. I also have two younger boys, one of them a 14-year-old, red-headed version of Dave the Defector.I might have to change my strategy, though.Perhaps making them wade for hours on end in ice-cold water, in a sometimes-fishless lake, in the teeth of a southerly gale, is not the best way to ensure kids never leave the island.
I said to him,"Make sure he has good access to fine Drink from My Supplier, Charles. It should be more plentiful in Italy than Tasmania !!"
This Isle at the bottom of the world, with nowt twix it and Antarctica but wild sea, is blest with natural beauty. But its very small and recent population (half a million in a place as big as England or Ireland) means that we do not have the old and beautiful villages and lakeside hotels that other more established countries have created for themselves over several thousand years.
They call, and provide.
Charles has some fine holidays ahead.
Meanwhile I shall walk on pristine beaches where there is no one in sight.