Good Relations


That’s a neat picture which says

‘Check Out My Muscle!’ – Today’s Gallery Theme


Today’s narrative is about something entirely different. Quite a funny story, really. I mentioned a month or so ago that the boys had palled up with a group from High School during the summer vacation and were spending a lot of time swimming, particularly river swimming in the Clinch. A couple of the group were African American, which we were very pleased to see, especially when we are faced with what is essentially a colour bar in the private gym (but, with Chad away on his travels, there is some pressure on Ron to get rid of that – but that’s another story for another time, and which could end badly when Chad returns).

Clare was in our yard the other afternoon, riding the mower in her usual state of semi-undress (shorts and bikini top). She noticed the lads and Jaymee return from school – and Leo, his mate Chris, and one of these new swimming dudes, disappear into our training cabin with a cheery wave. She thought no more about it…


…until suddenly, a large perspiring African-American lady bustled up, as Clare put it later ‘dressed for church’ (it was over 90 degrees at the time). ‘I suppose you’re his mother?’ Well, yes, Clare is indeed Leo’s mother, but what could this woman want? ‘I want to check out its OK for my boy to be here. He should be home doing his assignments. Where is he?’


Ooops. Clare knew perfectly well that the boys would be sweating over weights or wrestling in the cabin, almost certainly in a state of undress. No-one gets into our cabin without an invitation, though.

‘How did you know to come here?’ Clare was puzzled and was avoiding the issue.

‘He has to text me so I know where he is.’ Right!

‘You wait right here, Mrs…? She gave her name. ‘OK, you wait right here and I’ll see if I can find them. Take a seat right here on the mower!’ The lady looked very relieved to take her not inconsiderable weight off her feet, and sat fanning herself, which gave Clare time to sneak into the cabin and tip the boys off. Chris and the new guy were indeed in a sweaty tangle on the mats, with Leo cheering them on. The new boy just in his underpants…

‘Better pull some shorts on and get out here. Your Mom’s on your trail!’


Poor boy. Clare says she definitely heard ‘Oh shit!’ They lads were actually calling by to let us know that they were going for a swim, but got distracted. As they do. And the boy got ordered home to do his homework. He was soooooo embarrassed!

‘Mrs xxxxxxx – he’s welcome here any time…’ …but the large lady was bustling him out of the yard – not exactly leading him by his ear, but as good as…

Clare decided to trade on the situation. ‘So you two got the same assignment? Better quit messing in the cabin then? You gonna work together on it?’ They often do.

Faces fell. ‘I was going to go round to Chris’s this evening to do it – after we had a swim.’


‘My Mom’ll feed us,’ volunteered Chris.

I think we’re generally a bit more relaxed about how the kids spend their time that the large sweaty lady.

Clare glared at them for a long time before turning away.

‘Better get the bikes and get off down there, then. There’s towels in the airing cup…….’

But they were already racing off across the yard!


I like to think that we have some understanding with our kids in terms of what our expectations are, and them of us. Karen and Clare are certainly no ‘tiger moms’, nor Dave and I ‘tiger dads’ (if there are such things). We do demand – and get – respect – both ways. The kids get to enjoy their lives without feeling oppressed – and they get to ‘live’ them, as well. And any friend of theirs is always welcome. But not always, perhaps, their Moms…


And so to business, with more muscle admiration:









A quick reminder that you can explore our world through these links:

Loving the Boy: ISBN 978-1-907732-30-0

The Power of Love: ISBN 978-1-907732-41-6

Against All Odds: ISBN 978-1-908645-35-7






About tony

Born Northampton UK
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5 Responses to Good Relations

  1. Pingback: The Fat Lady Sings | Tony Cavanagh

  2. Platinumboy says:

    I understand your confusion (or is it consternation?) where “the fat lady” is concerned. I’m not sure how familiar you are with U. S. social history, but I thought I’d share some stories you might find helpful (I hope.). In Chicago and Cook County, where I was raised in the 60’s and 70’s, we had a type of segregation that was never out in the open. People of different races just “knew” where they could be and not be. I was never explicitly aware of the rule until long after I became an adult. In fact, I often wondered why blacks didn’t live in my neighborhood. Didn’t they like me?

    When I was a teenager in the late 70s, I began to see blacks come into my city (suburb). The police routinely put them in the back of a squad car and took them to a nearby integrated village.

    When I became an adult, I began to acquire black acquaintances through college and work. The older blacks slowly began explaining the “rules” when I began to trade stories of my life. My black friends told me about how, when they were young, they could have white friends only until they reached age six or so (especially in the South). After that age, the walls went up and a new set of social expectations arrived. Blacks and Whites don’t mix socially.

    One lady told me about her summer trips by train to visit relatives in the South. She traveled via “The City of New Orleans” train. Amtrak still operate “The City of New Orleans” and it is that run immortalized in song. She said that her parents told her she could talk to any passenger she wanted to as long as the train was north of the Ohio River.

    After she crossed the Ohio, she said, she was to keep her head bowed in front of whites and never speak unless addressed by someone.

    It is perhaps this unwritten “law” “Fat Lady” was heeding when she arrived on your property.

    The solution is obvious. Invite her on a “family” outing suitable for all. Let her see that all the boys get along well. Try to find common ground. You probably have many differences in parenting philosophy, but you all have basically the same goal. You want your kids to get along and achieve their potentials.

    Once she knows you have a different idea about “race relations” than many southern whites, she’ll relax. You may also find her a very physically active woman. I remember that, even though my Mom topped out at 263, she was an amazingly active woman. She never drove, so she walked or took public transit everywhere. No, she wasn’t a gym rat by any means, but she was never lazy or lethargic. Maybe “Fat Lady” is the same.

    Remember the story of my Grandfather, born in 1867 to a mine foreman in Ponty Prhydd, Wales. It is because his father was a mine foreman that Granddad was educated. If his father had been one level lower in the mine hierarchy, British Law of the time would have made it illegal for Granddad and his brother to be educated.

    My point is that that that law no longer exists, and here in America, we need to put old, race-dividing notions forever to rest. Leo and this new kid have made a good start here. Lead the rest of the way.

    Have a great day.

    • tonycavanagh says:

      Thanks, Platinumboy, for this superb comment which clarifies lots for us exiled Brits here that the locals maybe don’t want to share with us. Even our resident ‘mums’ Karen and Clare don’t like to discuss it – but they both come from troubled backgrounds anyway so maybe it is one step too far to get on to race relations!

      Back home in UK, the uppermost thing in people’s minds right now seems to be the ‘migrant crisis’ – currently anyone from EU countries can legally enter UK and there are many migrant workers from eastern Europe who are happy to accept lower salaries than Brits to do the more menial tasks – the economy probably wouldn’t work without them but, following the ‘Brexit’ vote, the top topic is limiting immigration and Poles are getting beaten up in the streets now and again. But do they integrate? Largely – no.

  3. Pingback: Let’s All Get Along | Tony Cavanagh

  4. Pingback: Invitations and Challenges | Tony Cavanagh

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