"Rafa does not want to win badly enough," our nine-year-old girl said. Sitting side by side on the sofa, each with a drink in hand, we were watching the Wimbledon final. We were watching it slip away from the defending champion, Rafael Nadal. We were both becoming increasingly certain that the tournament will have a new champion.
After two-and-a-half hours of enthralling tennis, Wimbledon did have a new champion in the supremely athletic and hard-hitting Novak Djokovic. Nadal really did not want to win badly enough that evening.
That moment comes back to me as I write what is the final instalment of this column. I shall stop because I no longer want to do it badly enough. There are, of course, all the usual reasons.
I find it more and more difficult to find the time to do it. (I had always found it difficult to make time for it, but I had wanted to find the time badly enough, you see.) In certain weeks, I have noticed that it seems more like a chore, like another of those innumerable office-related things I can't but do. On many occasions, I have had to write it at home, prising away for it the time that I ought to have reserved for its subject.
Writing about oneself is a fraught proposition. One needs to be honest (and brave and shameless) to choose to disclose certain things about oneself. One is squarely in the centre of the action. I put myself — and, much more importantly, our daughter — in the centre of this particular narrative.
I am not sure I can go on doing it for much longer. I am not sure that I have the right.
While we were away on a break, I did — as I'd promised you last I wrote this column — some thinking about whether to go on. When Dad's the Word started, Oishi was six years old. She will turn ten next month.
As we approach a rather trickier territory in her life, I think I'd find it hard to be protective of her privacy and honest as a writer if I were to go on writing this. The key things, the issues about which this column ought to be may not be things I would like to talk about in print.
Again, much more importantly, they may not be things that our girl might want to be written up and made public. So, much more than anything else, more than all the usual reasons, that is why I no longer badly want to carry on writing this.
Many of your emails about the column suggested that you saw yourselves in it, and felt many of the experiences described in it to be your own. I am grateful for each one of those emails.
At some point in the foreseeable future, there is likely to be a book based largely on some of the pieces I had written in Dad's the Word. But as a column, this is its final appearance. I shall miss it. But not badly enough.
Thank you for your support for all the while that this column ran. And, to adapt a famous line of a favourite poet of mine: Fare well, and fare forward.