Sitting around a table - not a gadget in sight - arguing

The joys of dining our en famille
The joys of dining our en famille

When this column started back in October 2006 daughter #2 had been in Reception Class for about a month. Next week she’s 14. That is truly terrifying. And where will she be in another 10 years, who knows? But surely they won’t fly by as quickly, will they?

The other Sunday we had an all-too-rare family meal out at a pub which serves bang average food at restaurant prices served by grumpy waitresses who glare at you like they’re doing you a favour, but at least we were all sat around the same table with not a TV or iPhone in sight. Just the four of us, arguing. What with work, daughter #1’s imminent GCSE exams and her part-time job and daughter #2’s four-night-a-week dance classes we see a full moon more often than we see each other. The few times we go out to eat together are on holiday when, to be honest, we’ve spent most of the day in each other’s company and are thoroughly sick of the sound of each other’s voices.

And when you factor in that you all sleep in the same hotel room for a fortnight when, as Bill Hicks says, you can’t get along in a five-bedroom house then it’s no wonder tempers fray a little.

Our daughters aren’t too bothered about owning things. As long as they’ve got the latest iPhone and access to a superfast fibre optic broadband connection then they’re good. So when it comes to birthdays it gets a bit tricky. Replica football shirts with their age and name on the back have been a no-no since they were six and thanks to streaming services such as Netflix and Spotify they haven’t played a CD or DVD in years.

As a music loving father-of-two football fan that’s pretty much me out of ideas when it comes to buying presents for teenage daughters. And as for going clothes shopping with them, nobody deserves to suffer that.

Daughter #2 likes shoes, Dr Martens boots to be precise, so we got her a pair that wouldn’t have looked out of place in the wardrobe department of This Is England.

The only twist is instead of being old-fashioned black they are decorated with the prettiest flowers you’ve ever seen. The kind of footwear riot grrrl bass players in a 90s indie band might have worn on The Word.