Recently I collected Norma-Jean from one of her hobbies. As we departed, I stopped to bid farewell to a couple of boys who were preparing to cycle home: ‘See you next time, lads.’

‘Dad - why did you have to say goodbye to those boys ?’

‘Well I see them here twice a week so I was just being friendly…’

‘God - that was so embarrassing. I actually thought you were going to say ‘Cheerio’ as usual’.

There followed a brief discussion on the list of all possible farewell greetings and the acceptability of each. Then we reached the car. She put her iPod on, I listened to the radio and the matter was closed.

Until the following week. We left the sports centre where the same two lads were unlocking their bikes. I paused. My daughter stopped and looked at me in stupefied horror as I waited for the lads’ full attention.