Today is Father’s Day in the UK, oh, and in Afghanistan, Trinidad & Tobago, the Philippines, Cuba. Hungary, China, Pakistan and approximately 55 other countries around the world. Not that this makes it any less special for you, Daddio, as you are, by far, my favourite Dad in the whole wide world.
Wikipedia’s definition of Father’s Day states that this yearly festivity celebrates “fatherhood and male parenting, and typically involves gift-giving, special dinners to fathers, and family oriented activities”.
Due to lack of disposable income, and more notably, a 180 mile distance between us, there won’t be any giving of gifts, nor a special dinner and family orientated activities this year (which is a welcome relief, to be honest, I’ve never been one for jovial Von-Trapp-esque get-togethers, where we all sit cross-legged around a warm, welcoming fire, playing musical instruments and laughing heartily).
I hope you don’t feel too disappointed, Dad, for I give you this blog post by way of compensation; a carefully delivered and handcrafted tribute to you, in all your bald-headed, rotund-bellied glory.
From an early age, you always shared with me the importance of having compassion for others; a value that I commendably exercised the day I informed my primary school teacher that you, as Chairman of the Board of School Governors, would fire him. What? I didn’t like him goddamnit, the guy was weird and, in my opinion, inappropriate around pre-pubescent girls. I’m sure, beneath the fury and disgrace you felt towards me that day, deep down, you were proud of your 11-year-old daughter, because I stood up for what I believed in.
On my first day of secondary school, you took me to one side, your hands planted firmly on my skinny shoulders, eyeing me resolutely, and delivered the following advice “the best way to gain respect on your first day at school, is to have a fight with the toughest kid there”. Thankfully, I didn’t follow through on your
outrageous helpful guidance on that occasion, but I have often since channeled your advice throughout my adult life, so much so that I’m sure you’ll be pleased to know that I have started many a new job with an aggressive ruck on my first day, commandeering respect all round from my colleagues, because that’s the way I roll.
As a gawky, sullen teenager, I often felt misunderstood and awkward, mainly due to my skinny legs, frizzy, untamed hair, oh and the small matter of being hugely sexually confused. I clearly remember a conversation we had in the car as we slowly made our way up the hill to home; your comforting big-bear frame turned to me, and with a smile you asked, “do you have a boyfriend?” Horrified, I answered “no!” I’ll never forget your retort, “why not? Are you a lesbian?”. Sliding down the passenger seat chair, my face a beaming shade of red, I sincerely hoped a huge hole would appear so that I could escape the sheer humiliation of being outed by my own Father. Of course, as you know, it took me a further 8 years to completely come to terms with my sexuality, in which time, I attracted the advances of
a select few just the one hopeful admirer – I won’t mention his name, poor lad, but I’m sure he is forever haunted by the day you forcibly removed him from the driveway, where he stood throwing snowballs at my bedroom window, in an attempt, I think, to garner my attention. At the time, I was understandably mortified by your outlandish protectiveness, but now, as a 30-year-old woman, I’d like to thank you for fending off that boy, for it seems he’s turned out to be a complete loser, and I made a narrow escape. Thanks for encouraging me to be a lesbian, Dad.
My friends always informed me that they wished their Dads were more like you. And why wouldn’t they? Surely everyone wanted to be picked up from the school disco by their Dad driving a brown Lada and wearing an illuminous green baseball hat with a fake pony tail attached to the back? Or, how about the time you waved me off on the day I left for a 6 month stint working in France, aged 21? As I boarded the coach (the epitome of cool, in my baggy jeans and Quiksilver hoodie), I was met by a sea of bemused faces – an entire bus-load of unfamiliar people glancing nervously at me, and then towards the side window of the coach, where a man (you) stood on the pavement below, waving manicly and jumping around, wearing a pair of comedy glasses and a wig. If that wasn’t bad enough, you also threw up in full view of everyone. But I’ll let you off for that one, you were anxious and worked up that your daughter was leaving home. It’s to be expected.
Despite the sheer humiliation you have inflicted on me over the last 30 years, Dad, you have also always been my rock during difficult times; a constant source of immense wisdom and musings. Only just recently, you informed me, “before you can give your love to anyone, you’ve got to learn to love yourself”. It was, by far, the best advice you’ve ever given me. Thank you, Dad, for being you (and for introducing me to tobacco and red wine at the tender age of 6).