expand allcollapse all

On The First Breath Of Dawn: Pigeons In The Park

Rafi's first birthday party - and he reacts to a happy sound, a roar of love and encouragement, when his cake is brought in. The next episode in author Paolo Hewitt and his son's voyage of discovery that life is wonderful takes place in the park - with pigeons.

This happy sound, this roar of love and encouragement from all present, took you by surprise. You turned back to look at everyone and that is when you gave them the smile, the most beautiful smile, a smile that seemed to be say - this is for me, all for me? Thank you so much.

But - most importantly - your smile also said in no ambivalent or ambiguous way - isn’t life just wonderful?

I am now going to talk to you about pigeons. You love them. Every time we are out, and you spot one, your arm shoots out. There! There! Your favourite pigeon spot is the small park at the end of our street. For me, this park sums up London.

At times, early in the morning and with just maybe a solitary human being crossing it, and with the sun breaking through the trees, like God at your window, and with a blue sky arching over it, it is heart-stirring. Many times, I have stopped the pram so you and I can exult in its beauty. Even in winter, with the trees shorn of their colour, there is a beauty I want you to experience.

Yet sins, grave sins, mark and scar its ground. One rape, two stabbings took place here in the last month alone. The beauty and the beast live side by side in this place, Rafi. And that is London.

Your finger shoots out. There! There! I push the pram towards a pigeon poking at some food, like Jagger’s head on speed. And as we get this close to this edgy bird with its jittery movement, and of course, it flaps, and flies away. And you love to watch that bird soar out of view. You love it. It thrills you to watch its ascension into the sky, onto a tree, maybe a nearby roof, maybe a TV ariel.

And so do I. Never did before. But you are making me see the magic of it all, Rafi.

Then we see another one and off we go, chasing pigeons but never grasping one.

Raffini, when I saw that smile on your face, I realised that my biggest job in life right now, is both simple and monumental – to keep you believing without a moment's hesitation in your soul,  that life is indeed deeply wonderful.

And to do that I must make sure your dreams never act like those pigeons.