I am in a reflective mood as I sit on my train back to our rural idyll, after an evening with my family.
Family can drive you crazy if you let it. So I've clearly been quite lucky in that sense, in that I enjoy my family time. What makes it easier is that I have mellowed as I have got older, less prone to the easy certainty of the unexpectedly ill-informed.
My father is a genuinely bright person, an achiever in spite of the hurdles placed before him, reaching the rarified heights of his industry despite a relatively late start. As a young man, untainted by experience, we did occasionally lock intellectual horns, which tended not to end that well.
But time, and a degree of distance, lends a sense of perspective and, unexpectedly, doubt. Curiously, unlike the stereotype of the elderly, who are supposed to become more fixed in their prejudices as they get older, I find myself seeing more and more shades of grey, and rather less black or white.
As a result, my father and I can now talk about stuff without that sense of competition on my part. It's a lot gentler, and rather more fun.
And so I really ought to mark my father's birthday by saying, "Thanks Dad, it's been great.". Because it has...