Answering a GCSE English question

The question is: Write an entry for your blog about your favourite time of year. (16 marks)

Aah summer. I just can’t wait. Imagine those long, warm evenings sitting on the boundary watching a game of cricket gently unfold. Shouts. Laughter. The occasional moment of excitement. My son grabs a catch, an appeal is turned down: but it’s not really about the game. It’s about the feeling. Somehow, worries melt away and the drudge of work becomes a faint glimmer, outshone by the brilliance of sunshine and blue skies. Calm descends and, as the evening light eventually fades, even the darkness cannot overcome the simple joy of summer.

The sense of enjoyment continues: perhaps there are television highlights of the Test Match to watch. Maybe there is the chance to catch a game live, as long as the weather holds. Best of all, though, is the playing – taking on my son.

We haul the wickets to the rugger field and set up our mini-game. Real ball, real bat – and, as the young terror turns teenager, so the pace of the ball quickens. Some I see, some I don’t, but the days of letting him win or offering up steepling, but simple, catches are long gone. This is a battle to the death, a matter of survival. It’s either him or me: and these days, much to my emerging pride, it is almost always him.

What a privilege to witness his growing bravado, his genuine pace and his towering, angry strikes when facing my throw-downs. How much longer will I be competent enough to even stand up to the bombardment of vicious deliveries which he subjects me to?

It seems like long ago now, when summer nights meant knockabout matches in the back garden. Endless searches for missing tennis balls saw us groping through trampled foliage, poking among harsh branches in our beech hedge, or constructing increasingly ambitious structures with picnic chairs and brooms to reach over to next door.

Almost imperceptibly, something changed.

His shots were suddenly hitting the middle of the bat. I was having to dive this way and that not to catch the ball – but to avoid it! Thrilling drives were banging into windows and prompting shouts from within. The shed was cleared in one hit, the roof was reached: and the only target left was to strike a ball clean over the entire house.

I miss those days. I miss pretending to be famous players. I miss the comradeship and mock anger when we blamed each other for losing the ball. But I know everything changes. One summer is never like another. We grow older together. We can hang on to the past only in our recollections. We can comfort each other with the thought that next summer could be the best ever.

It will be the best ever.

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