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It shouldn't happen to a special adviser

Most of us have experienced "embarrassing parent syndrome". You know the sort of thing: frenetic dancing performed in front of the offspring's friends, nappy rash anecdotes retold to prospective girlboyfriends.

Richard Darlington, special adviser to Education Secretary Ruth Kelly, therefore deserves our deepest sympathy. Richard's father, Roger, is an energetic internet enthusiast who runs several websites, including Among his other publications are the family's round-robin Christmas cards dating back to 1996.

These recount the ups and downs of his son's relationships and also tell of a long weekend in Amsterdam during which "Rich" acquainted his father with some of the city's "alternative" sights and substances.

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