There is a wonderful book by Anthony Browne that I used to read to my children when they were little. It’s called ‘My Dad’ and some of the things it says include ‘He’s all right, my dad. He’s as strong as a gorilla and as happy as a hippopotamus. He’s a great dancer, a brilliant singer, he’s fantastic at football and he makes me laugh. A lot. ‘ So I decided for Blogmas to tell you about my Dad because ‘he’s all right, my Dad.’
The other night our sink started to leak. The first thing I did, as my husband lay on the kitchen floor swearing like a trooper, was to call my Dad. My Dad can pretty much fix anything, even if like the other night, he must do it over the phone. I wish he lived closer to me and I keep nagging him to move up here. Then he could just come in an instant, whenever anything broke – which in my household is usually quite often. I’m very much a Daddy’s Girl and I am quite proud to admit it. It’s really no wonder that I have never had much luck with the opposite sex, as I was always trying to find someone as good as my Dad and until recently, few measured up.
My Dad has always been great with kids. He used to spend hours playing with me and my brother when we were little. He’s done the same with my children. Playing at schools, shops and even nail salons when he made Sofia a nail file block out of wood and sandpaper. When my friends used to come and play with me, they would always say how much they loved my Dad. To which I would reply. ‘Yes but he’s MY Dad.’
My Dad had all these silly things he did with us as kids to make us laugh. There were ‘ugly-gugglys’, where he would tickle you so hard that you would nearly vomit. There was the rocket ship into bed where he would throw you on the bed from halfway across the room. It didn’t always go to plan. I often ended up banging my head too hard on the bed. We would frequently end up injuring ourselves after an adventure with my Dad, but that was part of the fun.
Years before anyone invented bicycle seats for kids, my Dad would fix a small bike seat onto his crossbar and put us on the front of his bike as he pedalled. This was the time before cycling helmets. It was, however, quite a clever idea because if we ever had an accident on the bike, then we would fall onto my Dad and our fall would be cushioned. He did the same with both of my children too.
My Mum was in charge at home and my Dad always bowed down to what she decided. My Mum was the disciplinarian, always threatening us with, ‘Wait till your father gets home.” When my Dad did get home, he never told us off. He just agreed with everything my Mum said for an easy life. Most of my youth was spent doing ballet and most of my Dad’s time was wasted hanging around for me to finish ballet, as my classes used to go on for hours. But he was always there. You could always rely on him.
In the late Seventies, my Dad went away for a while to study at University. We only saw him alternate weekends if that. I remember crying so much when he wasn’t at home and the feeling of utter elation when he would send me a letter or telephone us.
My Dad is one of the cleverest people I know and yet he left school with no qualifications when he was fifteen, as he attended a Secondary Modern, having failed his eleven plus. I know I get my brains from my Dad. He knows a phenomenal amount about culture, history and politics and as we were growing up, we were always encouraged to talk about the major issues of the day. So much of my life has been influenced by my Dad, such as my love of comedy, musical tastes and my love of reading and gardening and of course, The Brontes.
When you go through your teenage years, you find everything about your parents embarrassing and you try and avoid being seen with them. I was pretty much like this with my Dad until I was nineteen and he took me to Boulogne to spend a year living in France. I knew no one and I had never been to Boulogne, where I was going to spend the entire year. I was terrified about living there and to help me to settle in a bit easier, my Dad bought me a black and white television costing a hundred and fifty pounds in 1989. It was the best idea he ever had, as all the other assistants would come around to my flat to watch television. As he left, I desperately wanted him to take me with him, but instead he just encouraged me to remain by saying, ’Give it two weeks. If it’s bad, then come home.’ It was that experience that made me realise my Dad loved me. When I was at University my Dad didn’t have a lot of money, but he’d always send me what he could and usually it was his last fiver.
As I have gone through my life, I have done some daft things, but my Dad has never once told me how to live my life or scolded me for my mistakes. He’s just always been there for me. He’s never been one to say ‘I love you’ or give hugs and kisses, as that is not in his nature. He prefers to show me by his actions and that’s all that matters.
Of course, no one is perfect, and my Dad drives me mad with his love of Last of the Summer Wine, Bargain Hunt and Eggheads, which he loves to blast out on the television when he comes. ’This television’s too loud Grandad!” The kids always yell – like in that Boots hearing aid advert. He can forget to shut the front door and always leaves his bedroom window wide open, but we would not be with out him for the World. I have tried to be a similar sort of parent to my children and I hope that one day they might see me, the same way I see my Dad.
Last week I went to a funeral of a lady who was the same age as my Dad. Afterwards, I sent him a text saying, ‘I hope you have no plans to die soon.’ The truth is I don’t ever want my Dad not to be there. He’s such an important part of our lives that we really would be lost without him. Whenever anything goes wrong, my Dad is always there. You can always rely on him. I may not have a Mum but my Dad more than makes up for it. But just so you know, he’s MY Dad, not yours.