Photo Essay

Turning Point / An Adventure


We were inseparable once. I taught him guitar (badly) as soon as he could hold one and football (quite well) as soon as he could walk. I was coaching a team of local kids before I knew it. Good kids and we won a few trophies along the way.

When he hit his teens I had to gave the football up, unable to find time and headspace as the pressure of building a business to support a family kicked in. A year later I was separated from his mum and we were barely talking.

I'd let him down and he was angry. Not the best frame of mind to start your journey as a young man. In the week of his 16th birthday he got on the wrong side of a policeman at a party and spent a night in the cells. The following morning he was charged with assaulting an officer.

We did what families do, pulled together, offered love and support, found a good lawyer. Our man told us he believed our son was innocent, but that 9 times out of 10 a court will take the word of a police officer over a teenager. The offence was serious; a guilty verdict would mean a criminal record and possibly a spell in prison.

The case was scheduled for late summer, a few weeks after GCSE exams that prepare you for higher education in the UK. I could see two very different paths that our boy's life might follow.

To give him something to look forward to I planned an adventure for the time between exams and court. We went to Japan. To Tokyo for fashion, food, manga and people watching; into the mountains for a rock festival and four days sleeping in a muddy field; by night train and ferry to the Benesse House art site in Nao Shima; onto the ancient spa at Dogo; the reborn city of Hiroshima; the temples of Kyoto.

The photo was taken at Benesse passing time (next to a giant pumpkin) while we waited to take our first shower in five days. It is one a number of moments during the trip that were turning points in our relationship. I got my son back.

A couple of weeks later there was an even bigger turning point. He got his life back. He was a one in ten.

Not guilty.

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2 responses

  • Ari Hahn

    Ari Hahn said (18 Aug 2010):

    great story.

    never give up, especially on a kid....

  • D. Smetana

    D. Smetana gave props (10 Jan 2012):

    That is a great story, and you sound like a great dad.

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