The phone rings, and that moment every father dreads comes crashing into your world like a steroidal bull with a hangover. A voice you have known all your life speaks, deeper now, but still the boy you knew, now a man. His tones trembling, your son says; "Dad, you got to help me…."
I received a call of this kind from my eldest son yesterday. He was obviously in a state of panic. Immediately, my heart leapt into my mouth and all kinds of wild imaginings flirted with the emergency button in my head.
"It’s my dissertation, it’s gone," he went on. Long exhalation – it wasn’t life threatening, just ruining. "I plugged my memory stick into my laptop and there was nothing there. There’s nothing when I plug it into my PC either and I don’t have a recent backup. You’ve got to help me, Dad."
I was just finishing work, so I picked up my software hacking tool kit – a neat little disk called Hiren’s Boot Disk and jumped into the Batmo… my Peugeot 206. It’s five o’clock, the roads out of Bridgend are chocka, and the Talbot Green to Ponty Road is no better. I get to his house in a little under forty-five minutes. He is sweating pints.
"Is this going to be okay?" He seeks reassurance from the rock that has always been there. I peer over my glasses, and with a confidence I don’t feel, I reassure him with a smile and a pat on the shoulder.
"Yeah," I reply, "It’s going to be fine."
"That’s six months work." He is still panicky, but I can sense the warmth of ’It’s okay, my dad can do anything’ in his voice. For a 22 year old, he has a touching belief in me.
"Right, go and make coffee, lots of it and order a pizza. I’ve got work to do." He disappears out of the room, I slip Hirem’s into the CD player, quickly recover the memory stick to his hard drive, and then start opening command prompts and running all sorts of arcane commands. I even managed to get the moving graph from Taskmgr on the screen for effect. Three cups of coffee later, I turn to him with a solemn look on my face.
"It’s done." I say through tight lips. Gregory Peck eat your heart out.
He closes his eyes and says, "Shheeet, thank God for that. You ARE the best. You are definitely the BEST Dad in the world."
I stand up, he hugs me, his eyes wet with gratitude and I pat his back in a fatherly sort of way.
Ten minutes later, I’m in my car again. I pull over at the Texaco garage, buy a Hamlet and drive off with it stuck in my smiling face. "That was worth half a crown of anyone’s money", I thought.