;homemade chess

In the UK. When Ned was five and starting school a bossy girl in his class asked him what he wanted to be when he grows up. ‘A Knight’ he said. ‘You can’t be a Knight, my dad said they don’t exist’. Ned came home deflated that night and asked if he could be a knight with a sword. I replied as I always do – be whoever you want to be. ‘But I’m talking about when I’m a grown-up’. You can be a fencing champion, you can be a stunt specialist for sword fighting, be noble and go on an adventure, look for truth and stand up for honour, find yourself a princess, join the Welsh Guards, join a re-enactment society – the list is endless – if you want to be a knight, be a knight. That weekend we went to our local 12th century castle to a medieval weekend. It had a jester, a hog roast, music and knights demonstrating hand-to-hand single combat – a real life knightly sword fight. Ned was transfixed. There were knights in this real world. Afterwards you could visit the tournament tents and see the knights preparing. Spotting a kindred spirit one of the knights waved Ned under the rope and let him hold a sword and talked to him about what it is like to be a knight.
So, imagination repaired, his toy sword collection has grown – we have medieval broadswords, roman swords, pirate cutlasses, Eastern scimitars and oriental samurai swords. We have read King Arthur, Perseus, Jason and the Argonauts, the adventures of Sinbad, Peter Pan and Aladdin.

In Singapore. Making friends is scary when you’re six. Ned takes a few swords and a bow and arrow down to the pool and starts laying siege to the jacuzzi and slowly I watch a few other boys circling him. It takes minutes and they play for hours.

We have a Knight in the family.