Before I begin I would like those gathered here to ponder any incidents involving ricardo ‘s 30 years that they would like to embarrass him with after this little speech is over … a speech which is one of the hardest speeches I have ever done .
I am terrified.
The Sword of Damocles hangs over me. A good thing really as Richard is an historian-arhcaeologist and I need some historial allusion to indicate where he gets this genetic inheritance from …
So, A little history for those unfamiliar with the story of the Sword:
The Damocles of the anecdote was an obsequious courtier in the court of Dionysius II of Syracuse, a fourth century BC tyrant of Syracuse. Damocles exclaimed that, as a great man of power and authority, Dionysius was truly fortunate. Dionysius offered to switch places with him for a day, so he could taste first hand that fortune.
In the evening a banquet was held where Damocles very much enjoyed being waited upon like a king. Only at the end of the meal did he look up and notice a sharpened sword hanging directly above his head by a single horse-hair. Immediately, he lost all taste for the amenities and asked leave of the tyrant, saying he no longer wanted to be so fortunate.
Dionysius had successfully conveyed a sense of the constant fear in which the great man lives. Cicero uses this story as the last in a series of contrasting examples for reaching the conclusion he had been moving towards in this fifth Disputation, in which the theme is that virtue is sufficient for living a happy life. Cicero asks
“Does not Dionysius seem to have made it sufficiently clear that there can be nothing happy for the person over whom some fear always looms?”
A slightly different moral to the story of the Sword of Damocles is that, “The value of the sword is not that it falls, but rather, that it hangs.” Recent history has given weight to this variation when compared to, for example, mutual assured destruction (MAD) , which is what happens when father and son go out on the piss …
The reason for my terror is that I have an absolutely dreadful history in relation to speeches in honour of our children. It seems that my off-the-cuff speeches which have generally been delivered rather late in the celebratory evenings have been notable for their narcissistic, rambling, irrelevant, sometimes embarrassing content.
I would not know; I have no recollection of any of them …
I do, however, have complete recollection of my first encounter with Richard Tuffin.
It was an extremely exhausting experience.
I had to sit increasingly wearied by the bed of Sue Tuffin in Kingston-upon-Thames Hospital, Surrey UK as Sue very obviously deliberately slowed the birth of Ricardo to keep me from the planned celebrations in the real ale paradise of the Dog and Duck, New Malden.
Hour after hour I sat there as Sue belaboured the arrival of the first-born … until with an induction roar befitting of a Kawasaki GPZ 1100 … he was there… a right little Chubster.
Plump, hairy and with a reproductive system more befitting of a that which Michael Jordan bounced on court.
My god . I felt the earth move on its axis … this is a potential Fast Breeder Reactor.
These analogies are getting a tad bizarre.
My next firm memory of Ricardo after the haze of celebratory champers and real ale had cleared was gazing down at him in his crib in our little flat in New Malden.
And thinking, my god, i’m equally responsible for this little bugger. He doesn’t know I’m an old hippie, yet. He doesn’t know how recently i’ve converted from acid-tripping booze, sex drugs rock n roll.
My god I have to be responsible. This is going to be hard.
But I gotta say it hasn’t been. Because Sue Tuffin did all the hard yards. Although I would like to think I played my part as Sperm Donor aand Draught Horse.
And how quickly it has raced by. For a guy who never thought he would have children, here is 30 year evidence of its supreme joy. how many dads get to go motorcycle riding and and get ale-loose with their sons? how many love to talk together about history and philosophy, the beauty and wonder of womankind etc.
I do and I’m enormously blessed.
Richard is the first born. We are celebrating his 30th. This is his night.
But Sue and I are immensely proud of all our children … Rachi and Tom who couldn’t be here tonight , and how we miss them not being here …
We are proud of Rich, Rache and Tom … not for what they have done or what they do …but for who they are.
I would like now to do one of my favourite things… raise a toast.
To Richard Tuffin, 30.