It was the number one son’s birthday. We all went to Richmond Park for a picnic, lovely day, a little crowded, but a lovely time. But first we went with Octavia (4)to buy a bottle of rose. He doesn’t trust my cellar knowing that it is based on quantity rather than quality.
The walk meant passing Mr Prasha’s newsagents. It was there aged 12-16 Leo had his first job delivering newspapers. The round which took about an hour meant getting up early so he could get to school. This nearly always meant I had to get him up. Tears before breakfast. Once when he was ill I even did the round for him. The highlight of the year was the handsome tips he received at Christmas. Mr Prasha when I see him always rolls his eyes, beams, puts out his hands and tells me Leo is the best paper boy he ever had.
So we are passing. Leo is reluctant, but I insist. The eyes roll, the smile beams, Mr Prasha is delighted. We all are. A big box of sweets is thrust into Octavia’s hands. This is slightly embarrassing as typically he moans about how badly he is doing, how hard he works and how he cant sell the shop. Twelve hour days for forty years that I know. He always moaned. Two shops away is a similar convenience store and he turned down The Lottery.
On the way out he insists on ice creams all round. Only Octavia accepts, we give back the sweets. I read somewhere that research shows that a very high percentage of successful business men had done newspaper rounds or similar jobs as youngsters. It showed independence, up and go and a desire to have more. Leo is now 36 and runs a successful business. He is also a wine snob.