RICHARD ORD: A matter of life and death

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FINDING the right time and place to bond with your children is so important. I tend to do it over syringes and heart-monitors.

Our Bradley, 14, is a regular at various hospitals and doctors’ surgeries in the North East.

He could be dubbed our super-fit sickly child. Brad is a sporty kid with joints and tendons more like biscuit and liquorice than the traditional bone and sinew.

Bradley rarely completes a football match or sports day without succumbing to one injury or another.

I have the same problem when bending down to fasten my shoelaces. It must be some sort of hereditary condition.

His injury-prone nature means I’m invariably accompanying him to the physio, doctors or hospital.

While the Hollywood vision of father and son bonding is the silhouette of a man and boy on a fishing boat against a blazing sunset, our bonding time is set against a backdrop of plastic chairs and alcohol hand sanitiser dispensers in medical waiting rooms.

He’d love a season ticket at Newcastle United. Instead, he’s as good as got one at Newcastle RVI. On reflection, the RVI ticket is probably the better deal.

While I’m no lover of hospitals, the state-of-the-art RVI is a world away from the old disinfectant-scented NHS wards I remember from my youth.

I mean, this hospital has its own cinema for goodness sake!

Such is the impressive architectural design of the RVI, that it’s more like being treated in the Tate Modern than a hospital.

So much effort has been made in making it feel like you’re not in a hospital, that you get a genuine surprise when you spot someone looking unwell.

There are some nice touches. I like the fact that the X-ray department is on the third floor. The nurse told us: “You just go along this corridor, turn left, up the escalators, down the next corridor, turn left, down another corridor, turn right and X-ray reception is on your left.”

Good job he had nothing broken! I wouldn’t want to make that journey with a fractured leg.

Where do they send the claustrophobiacs for treatment? The basement? “Claustrophobia? That’s on the lower ground floor. Just use the lift. The small one on the right.” Acrophobia clinic? That’ll be on Level 10.

Anyway, the waiting for results gave me and the boy plenty of bonding time. Thing is, as he’s got older (as is the wont of kids today) his conversations have taken on a more mature theme.

Gone are the days of discussing who would win a fight between a great white shark and a polar bear – instead he was after my opinion on convicted rapists playing football and terrorists killing cartoonists. It was like being interviewed by Jeremy Paxman.

Fortunately, normal service was resumed when the doctor eventually called us in to look over his X-rays.

As the doc perused the screen, a grim silence descended. This was serious stuff.

Which is why I heartened to see our Bradley pulling faces behind the doctor’s back in a bid to make me laugh. I cracked first.

Not exactly the father and son bonding moment depicted in the movies, but it works for me.

•Since you ask, the winner of the great white shark versus polar bear battle is dependent on the depth of the water. Anything under three foot and the smart money is on the bear.