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Contrary to most evidence, I do indeed have a father as well

23 June 2009 by superlative

I spend quite a lot of time (too much, in fact) writing about my insane mother on here, and I’ve realised today that I don’t really mention my Dad much. And when I do mention him, it’s usually in relation to her and the running around after her that he has to do.

But today is my Dad’s birthday, his 61st in fact, and so I’m going to write a little something about him.

I like my Dad, but in some ways we aren’t that close. I suppose that’s why I don’t write about him often. We rarely speak on the phone, and when we do it can be a little stilted, but I think that’s probably the same for lots of people. You just speak to your Mum instead and get any news about your Dad second hand.

Growing up I felt that I didn’t have a lot in common with him, as we scarcely share any interests and are quite different people. It was connected in part to me being gay and him not knowing about it, as I felt that meant he didn’t really know me very well. I’ve actually felt much closer to him ever since I came out to him about eleven years ago. I didn’t think he would take it all that well as he’s from a traditional east end kind of background, but after an initial period of getting used to the idea he has always been really supportive. I genuinely feel that he’s proud of me, and that he enjoys seeing me, even though we aren’t hugely close.

He’s a quiet man, occasionally a bit clumsy both in his words and his actions, but he always means well and he’s very kind. He possibly wouldn’t be so quiet or so clumsy if he weren’t so browbeaten by my mother. He must also be very very patient to live with her and to put up with her crap. I often find myself telling her off for being utterly unreasonable to him, but he’ll rarely say anything back to her himself. Although saying that, his temper will get the better of him sometimes: when I was younger I saw him both put his fist through a wooden door, and drive a breadknife through a frozen (yes FROZEN) turkey, through the plate underneath it, and into the worksurface when Mum pushed him too far. He’s quite terrifyingly strong beneath his placid nature. Maybe Mum should take note…

He’s also very hardworking: he works full-time as a delivery man, and then about an extra hundred hours a week looking after Mum and doing for her all the things she can no longer manage, like the shopping and housework.

When I spoke to him on the phone on Fathers Day this weekend, he was half way round Tesco’s doing the weekly shop. Not the best time for me to speak to him, I thought, but he seemed quite eager to talk to me and keep me on the phone for a few minutes. And then I realised why: he probably didn’t want to go home in too much of a hurry. He and Mum had had a bit of a spat first thing in the morning, and he was probably glad to be out of the house for a while so they both had a bit of breathing space. How sad for him though, on Fathers Day, to be lingering on the phone to his son in the dairy aisle of Tesco’s.

I don’t know what he’ll be doing for his birthday today. Not much, would be my guess. He’s off work, I know that much, and they had planned to go away for a couple of days to the coast. But Mum’s not sleeping well due to the humidity (there’s always something), and so they’ve cancelled it.

“Can’t you put the fan on in your bedroom at night?” I asked.

“It’s too loud,” she said.

“Even with ear plugs in?” (she always wears ear plugs)

“And also I just don’t like the feeling of the fan on me.” – Oh. Well. There’s no helping some people!

So anyway, he’ll be having a fairly crappy birthday by the looks of it. Maybe I’ll give him a ring later, just to say hello. He’d probably quite like that, and the five minutes he’s on the phone to me will be five minutes that no-one’s going on at him.

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