Sometimes what I need to say seems to obvious. One of the things I am still learning is to say it anyway.

I am a deeply fortunate person. I have a family I love,  a cheerful disposition and there are moments in my day which are eternal, where I am breathless with the glory of the world. I do not feel grateful because there is an obligation or that it is expected. I feel grateful because it is a natural state and so profoundly mixed with what I understand of happiness that I cannot seperate it out.

So I say to my sons "What goes around..." and they answer "comes around" and they know that I mean that the large and small generosity and acts of kindness that others show cannot be repaid, but only transmitted.

My oldest boy biked off to see his good friend home and  got lost on the way back. It was getting dark and everything seemed strange and threatening to him. He did not dare talk to the big, tough-looking teenagers he saw in the park. Fear and embarassment gripped him and held him back from finding help until tears came, until Rosanna came. I have never met Rosanna and I probably will never find her, but she put him back on the right road and guided him home.

Thankyou Rosanna, for sending him home. I was very scared too. May you be helped in all your journeys.

I have laid upon oldest boy a debt of honour. "Someday", I said "you will find someone lost and afraid when you are a big, perhaps tough-looking, teenager. Then you will remember Rosanna and a scared ten-year old." So much of what we say to children fades, but I hope that that will remain.

I do not know you and perhaps I never will. I am writing this out into the strange, busy echo-chamber of the Internet. Wherever you are, I hope that you will always be guided home. If some day a lanky great guy helps you out, it may be that my son remembers Rosanna.


Webcomics show you people growing....


I read a  lot of webcomics. I have always loved comics, having been brought up with the Sparky and the Beano. Unlike their squashed-tree cousins, webcomics have almost no threshold. You could turn away from reading this, draw something, scan it and have a webcomic up in ten minutes. This means there are hundreds of dud, repetitive, game-themed, puerile comics out there and there are wonderful ones and foolish ones etc etc.

Getting started is simple. Continuing, updating regularly with new episodes, is a tremendous challenge. It requires an investment of time, creative energy and technical skill that commands respect. If you follow a webcomic for any period of time you will see the creator's ups and downs, family crises, bursts of inspiration and periods of despairing blankness. Of course, given that all the sustained webcomics have huge archives, you can follow someone's entire artistic history from beginning to end in the course of a couple of hours of clicking your mouse.

There is no other medium I can think of where you can so easily and precisely trace the growth of someone's skills and creativity.  It is an arc that is otherwise only visible to the expert who can gather an artists timeline in his mind's eye or by visiting a skillfully-crafted exhibition. I get a kick out of seeing skills build. It is a validation of my cherished belief in growth through enduring effort.