Ex chapter 1
Daniel’s father tried to kill him once. It was a kind of family tradition.
He was seven, when without explanation, they drove down to the Thames at Kingston on a filthy October morning. His father sat him down on the towpath under an umbrella and inflated an alarmingly ragged dinghy that had been hidden under the morass of ‘kit’ that he stored in the rear of the family estate.
"Here we are,” he said, standing back to admire his efforts. All tweeds and pipe tobacco, his remaining strands of hair billowed in the icy wind.
"Where are we?" asked Daniel.
" I am here," his father replied lugging the dinghy awkwardly over and into the water where it landed with a splat. "And you," he led Daniel over to the dinghy and helped him in, "you are in there."
Daniel took stock for a moment. The dinghy teetered on the jagged waves, shipping water by the second. He was dressed in his school uniform; no surprise really-he spent every waking moment of his childhood in that uniform. It was the middle of winter. He had no oars.
Daniel looked up at his father tearfully as he was cast out into the deluge. “I have no oars, dad. The boats all leaky."
"Far too much emphasis is placed on issues such as aquatic propulsion and buoyancy,” his father bellowed. "Be a man Daniel."
But Daniel did not want to be a man. As he clung to the sides of the dinghy, borne down river in the racing current, soaked to the bone, unable to differentiate between river water and rain, he just wanted to be back home in bed with his teddy.
He must have swallowed at least half his body weight in water before washing up at the lock, about half a mile down river. The lock keeper plucked Daniel out of the water with his spade-like hands and pumped life back into his stuttering lungs. The Police retrieved him and the hospital called his father who had only just returned home, presumably to plan his funeral.
Daniel could tell immediately by his face that he had disappointed his father yet again. It was not his fault. No one had shown him how to be murdered-it was no wonder that he wasn't good at it.
The incident hardened Daniel in many ways. His father spoke of further river-based experiences with great enthusiasm and even at this tender age Daniel could see that he intended to try to kill him again. On his eighth birthday Daniel gathered together his few monetary gifts and made his first and perhaps wisest investment.
The next time his father knocked on his bedroom door, on a Sunday morning, Daniel emerged already fully dressed and wearing his very own second-hand royal navy life vest.