Well, in the end, I decided to allow my daughter, Jill, to take the diving holiday in my place. I'd been pondering whether to go, but she's the right age for that sort of adventuring, and my idea of a good holiday is to sunbathe by a pool sipping a brightly coloured cocktail with a rude name. Donning a rubber suit and thrashing about in the murky depths doesn't float my boat, so to speak.
Jack, her elder brother, expressed an interest too, but his enthusiasm for it was about half as high as hers, and I think it was one of those sibling-rivalry things, really, rather than a genuine desire on his part, to go diving.
I knew I had to make a decision, but it's so difficult to choose between two kids. There is always one who will be disappointed. In the end it was the magpies' decision. The kids were due round here for Sunday lunch one day, and that morning I saw three of the blasted black and white monsters sitting on Mrs Galloway's wall, across the street. Three for a girl. Jill was chosen.
Jack looked a little disappointed, but I have to say I detected a certain amount of relief on his face, too. He's never been that keen on water-based activity, and I promised I'd make it up to him some time.
So, off Jill went, to Scotland this morning, and she's just called me from the hotel. She was sitting in the hotel garden, sipping a beer, and sounded very excited about the diving course. They'd all been given their gear, complete with lead boots, which they're allowed to keep at the end of the holiday. Good job she's not flying - imagine the excess baggage fee! Oh. While she was talking to me, she also mentioned that there were four magpies on the hotel lawn.