Saturday, 2 August 2008

Another twenty years

On Monday, Dad said he's planning to live for another twenty years. That would be until he's ninety-six.

"Oh bloody hell." I said.

Dad laughed.

Friday, 1 August 2008


It is 1993 (maybe early 1994) and I am sitting on a bench in the city's second best shopping centre with my friend JM. We think we probably look about 20 but in fact we look 17. Just 17.

We have been mooching about as teenagers are inclined to do, with no particular obligations on our time and no real responsibilities. We looked cool sitting cross legged smoking.

In retrospect I'm not sure what we looked like but I'm sure as anything that we didn't look cool.

JM laughed and said

"It's your dad. Ha ha ha ha ha..."

I thought she was joking in an attempt to get me to drop my cigarette.

"R_." boomed the old sea-dog behind me. "Are you smoking?"

"No." I said, despite holding in my hand evidence that I was, indeed, smoking.

"Put those out." He commanded.

JM and I reached round to stub them out on the side of the bench.

"Not there!" he boomed and made us put them in the bin.

He eventually went on his way and we went on ours, to a quiet corner of one of the parks to smoke more cigarettes.

Tuesday, 1 July 2008

The pater

J's paternity test dodging father is getting married in the church where my aunt plays the organ and, coincidentally, the parish administrator.

Of course she told me, and I told the CSA. I also told Dad, who wants to attend the wedding along with his heavies. I'm not sure, though, how exactly a bunch of ex navy old duffers with peculiar hats and beards would scare anyone. Maybe I'm just used to them.

Wednesday, 16 April 2008

Dad angry.

Having been told (by me) to leave me well alone for at least a week after the hoover incident, Dad comes round the next day.

I have just put the little one to bed for a daytime nap, J is occupied and I am imminently going to smoke in the garden. There is a knock at the front door.

I just know it is my dad. I hide my cigarettes.

He's looking through the front window. He also now has keys. There is no escape.

I expect he's being sociable but I had no warning that he was going to apparate here right now. I am actually very rude to him but I don't care as I am still angry about the hoover. He's angry that I am angry and tells me that he will lose interest in me.

I know it's unseemly but it kind of makes me want to laugh.

Tuesday, 15 April 2008

Hoover. Recent.

Unlike previous posts, this is not a historical event. More of that later. This is a random Dad moan.

Whilst away on holiday for a week, Dad persuades me to leave him a set of keys to my house. I gave him Ns keys and told him this so he would not entertain any ideas about keeping them. The reason he needed the keys was to remove the rubble from the remodelling of the garden. This is extremely helpful and very hard work, although, to be fair, before N went away he made sure the chunks were reasonably small and I then put the reasonably small chunks into reasonably light bags that I could reasonably have removed myself. So, I knew really that he just felt left out that several people have keys and he doesn't.

He doesn't have keys because I strongly dislike him turning up without warning, much less able to get in and catch me mooching about in my pyjamas.

Anyway, to explain what pissed me off I need to set the scene.

N has gone away with the Army, I am trying to make time pass faster until he comes back. To this end I visit my mother, abroad. We are late getting off a late ferry, the little one has barely slept and has a temperature, J is being lovely generally and I am themost exhausted I remember having been. When we arrive home the only parking space is 100m away from the front door. It is also raining. Exhausted, I tell J to carry the little one in for me and I attempt to unload the car as quickly as possible. As such I carry two large bags in each hand and the keys in my mouth. I unlock the front door and pick up the bags again hoping to totter my way through the house and put them out of the way in the dining room.

I trip, bruising my legs and my head. It makes me want to cry real tears because I am already tired. I turn on the dining room light which clearly shows my vacuum cleaner plugged into a socket in the kitchen and left in the middle of the hallway.

Tuesday, 18 March 2008

Fast forward

New boyfriend A and I have lived in the pretty rented house in an upmarket area for about three weeks when the company he works for announces that his department is being relocated.

After six months we move again. The new location is convenient for one of the universities I applied for. It wasn’t my first choice and my decision is based mainly on its proximity to new boyfriend A’s workplace.

Living in a small flat, A and I begin to dislike each other. Still, we look for a house to buy together. In fact, I am there at his mercy. As a student I have no assets to contribute to a house but we are a couple and have already decided we’re in it for the long haul, so I don’t see that as a problem. I will be able to contribute more when I have a degree, anyway I do all the housework (badly), cooking (badly) and laundry (badly).

I rake through local papers and estate agents’ listings and eventually find a house around the corner which seems to be the right size and right price.

New boyfriend A is able to afford to buy the house because his grandparents are giving him £75,000 for a deposit. Even now, looking at that figure makes me feel dizzy.

We complete in December and intend to move in the first week of January.

After New Year he tells me he doesn’t love me. I can’t remember why I don’t leave then but we move in as planned. In order for me to be able to move in with A, I sign a disclaimer. I will never be entitled to a share of the house’s value. At the time I don’t consider the long term implications of this.

Things pick up, I lose weight and look pretty again. I’m doing well with my degree, though not yet so well that it has gone to my head.

Dad makes a request. A and I are invited to his Royal Navy old boys’ reunion.


Wednesday, 12 March 2008


New boyfriend A and I have moved in together. We have left my hometown and moved an hour's drive away, so that A can be close to his new post-doctoral job. Dad is very proud of A for having a PhD and of me for bagging him. My university applications have gone in, three of which are London colleges, one for teaching, one for Sussex and one for Kent. So far I have offers from two. In due course I will receive offers from all of them.

Our new house is pleasant and light but bare. I am not working immediately, until J settles into the local school.

This is the closest I have come to living in a pseudo-nuclear family in my life. I have my nose pressed againstthe cold window of the Ikea catalogue trying to work out how to complete the rosy picture. I am too grateful to A to see, yet, what he really thinks of me.

Dad wants to buy us a kitchen table. He drives us to a country pine warehouse. Nothing here looks anything like anything in the Ikea catalogue. Any item of furniture from here will only add discord to thepicture of family life. It would not co-ordinate with the Klippan sofa, the Gruntdal cutlery or the Svepa glasses. I hate everything here. Dad points to a round table. I hate it and request a square table or maybe a rectangular one, maybe in a fashionable blond wood with cuboid legs and straight backs. There is no such item in the country pine warehouse.

A has also been looking at the Ikea catalogue and agrees on thekid of thing we need.

A tells Dad the the yellow pine, flouncy table would be just right. Dad says it would be a good size and sensible. He says it's a family kitchen table, to last a lifetime.

The table is ugly.

A says a circular table would work well in our kitchen. Dad says yes, he's always preferred circular tables.

In that case I think he should get it for himself.

He gets us the table which he delivers and constructs two weeks later.

I hate the table.