Four father figures and a fry-up

Mark Chester

My gradually expanding waistline is evidence of a number of things. Firstly, there is my lack of self-restraint. Then, my advancing years contribute, and my increasingly sensitive taste buds, which delight in flavour now more than ever, are playing their part. A diminishing fitness regime is something I intend to address – always next week. And finally, my membership of a particular club is adding a little fat to my bones. It is a sacrifice worth making, though, because the club in question is one which celebrates the all-day breakfast, a meal of which I am very fond.

The club meets on an ad-hoc basis in a variety of greasy spoon cafés in hungry appreciation of the traditional British fry-up. Membership is not an onerous affair and absolutely anyone can join. The club does, however, possess one quirk, which some would argue is not entirely appropriate. You see, we have two levels of membership. There is full membership and then there are second-class breakfast club citizens called tomato members, whose status occurs as a consequence of their preference for having grilled tomatoes with their meat feasts – not a choice admired by the founders of the club. In reality, it makes no difference whatsoever to the terms and conditions of membership – because there are none! It is just for the sport of ribbing the healthier ones among us; they will get their own back when they live longer!

The point of this preamble is this. Prior to one of our meetings, I received a message from one of the members to ask if he could bring along his two young daughters – one aged three, the other 18 months. The answer was, of course, yes. In fact, everyone was delighted, because all who were present that day – four men – love having children around. As we ate and talked and played with the two girls, it struck me what a fantastic gathering we were – two young girls, their father and three other positive male role models, who are willing and glad to be father figures to children who are not their own. I hope the girls will have some recollection of the meal we shared together, but I know that even if they don’t remember it, the experience will still have had a positive impact on them.

The girls were unanimously accepted into the all-day breakfast club by their four father figures – and I am pleased to report they both qualified for full membership. They made their father figures very proud!