Monday, 23 August 2010

End Credits

Well lets keep this simple.

My dad has died.

I could write a book on the whole thing (the before, the during, the after so far) but then I could write a book on a lot of things. None of them particularly joyous events but yet gripping, entertaining and, at times, funny in that kind of hysterically dark 'if we didn't laugh we'd cry' way.

Anyway, if you follow this blog you could probably have guessed he had died, thus my absense. Let's face it - I wasn't likely to be away on a cruise round the Caribbean was I? (On any level). Or camping in a field somewhere. Or, erm, just having fun? Nooooooo.

That just wouldn't be the way it would run.

Anyway, I'm back, you can't get rid of me. Life so far has tried to sink me in a multitude of forms, but yet, it hasn't yet pushed me to the depths from which I can not rise back up and wrestle it to the ground. Like a giant squid. Or Jaws (before he bit into an underground electric gable and died with smoke pouring from his fibreglass eyes).

Anyway he died last week, the funeral is Friday. I've been to Matalan and bought my frock. I tried to go to John Lewis but, on leaving the M5, got caught up in a series of mini-roundabouts, signs asking me to decide between 'The Mall, The Venue, The Retail Park and The Super-Retail Park' and, to cut a long, traumatic and expletive strewn story short, ended back on the motorway going in the wrong direction. At that point I gave up and decided I'd been out of the Big Smoke long enough to truly start to sweat once I pass Weston-Super-Mare.

How do you fill a hole this big? Well you can't. For the moment the panther that is this grief walks beside me. I know that he is there and sometimes we fix eachother with our stares, but for now I walk with his stride. I do not let him overtake me so that he can turn back and stop me in my tracks. I do not let him fall behind so that he can push me to the ground. I match his stride, I listen to his breath and I wonder. About it all. But I do not let him take me. Yet.

So many of our memories of my dad are now taken up with the last few months. And these are not what he was. So the most important thing that people can do for the moment is help us all remember who he REALLY was. The real man.

The vicar is trying to put together 'some words' to summarise my dad on Friday.

How long has she got?

My mum wondered if she'd like to tell the story about the 'left-behind darning needle' and his left testicle but we decided that was, perhaps, a bit too much for the vicar, however 'Vicar of Dibley-Stylee' she may be.

If you think my life is random, if you think I can tell a good story......Well you never met my dad. He always wanted to write a book but he never got there. He never even got to retirement age.

Today, during a rather dark afternoon, I got an email from his old work colleagues, passing on some stories for the vicar to retell. This one just about sums him up. As I said, the apple doesn't fall from the tree...........

Dad (or Doug as he is in this), this one's for you:

Doug had gone to New Zealand via the USA in Boston and Russ met him in Auckland.

He was exhausted and really grumpy as his luggage had not turned up and all he was left with was the clothes he was standing in.

They had to fly down to Christchurch for a meeting so couldn’t wait around and Russ told him that the luggage would have to catch him up.

In Christchurch they found a large man's shop (Doug was 6' 7" and over 25 stone) and got him ashirt and trousers but the boxer shorts were way too small so Russ told him he would need to wash the pair he was wearing every night and they should dry ok as it was summer.

He went to Doug’s room the following morning and as the door opened he could hear whoosh.....whoosh ..........whoosh. What on earth?

Well Doug had attached his damp boxers to the overhead cooling propeller type fan and put the thing on full speed!!!!. There were his pants, rotating round the hotel room ceiling at top speed whilst Doug checked his emails on the laptop. Russ collapsed in laugher whilst only being able to have visions of a large schooner in full sail. Doug however carried on as if this were perfectly normal behaviour for a man on the road who had to be adaptable.

Nuff said.

Sunday, 8 August 2010


Kids are great. Even though they wreck your figure, sanity, bank balance, house, car (did I tell you the toddler ran down the side of mine with a rock in his hand gouging out a deep scratch from bonnet to boot? People keeps saying 'oh my god, someone's keyed your car!' and I have to tell them it was my child.... and that was before he threw up half a field of pick-your-own strawberries all over the back seats), love life and ability to look 'together' (not that I have ever managed to channel that look) they do manage to keep you grounded and make you laugh, even when the rest of your life is a bucket of poo (and yeah, they like poo too).

Take my eldest son last night whilst playing with Winky.

Now before I go on I need to explain that Winky is in fact an 8 foot long stuffed rattlesnake with a bell in his tail who came from Ikea back in the days when me and my OH were still 'young lovers' and thought a large fake snake with a bell-end was the kind of 'funky interior design' that would look good in our first flat (along with a lava lamp, fibre-optic 'UFO' light and large plastic cactus that acted as a lamp. I actually sold the cactus at a car boot sale to a woman who collects them and 'plants' them in her garden. She claimed that people walking past 'stop and stare'. I'll bet they bloody do love.).

Many many times I have gone to chuck Winky out only to stop and realise that he held (note the past tense used there) a soft spot in my heart - and then the kids got old enough to play with him so he's staying. Forever it appears.

He didn't used to have a name and it was the kids who named him Winky We won't dwell on that one other that to say, boys will be boys....

Anyway they have a favourite game with Winky which is called 'poisoning mummy'. The rules are thus:

Mummy has to remain on the bed and they attack her with Winky. If either his tongue or 'rattle' touches her she is poisoned and dies horribly (with sound effects) unless she reaches the 'antidote' and rubs it on the poisoned bit. The antidote is a stuffed guinea pig (also from Ikea - not actually a real stuffed deceased pet - that would, erm, a step too far. Even for me. You can probably get arrested for rolling around on the bed whilst rubbing your body with deceased pets, and if not, you should be). They try and keep the guinea pig from me at all costs.

This game always ends with everybody totally and utterly hysterical (including me) and someone always hits their head or falls off the bed (or both) and thus I requested that they could, perhaps, poison Daddy instead. No, I was told. They only enjoy poisoning Mummy.

Hmmm, this is not what I imagined that long-ago day when I stared down at those thin blue lines on the pregnancy test, but then again I didn't imagine much else of what happened next either. Which is probably for the best.

Anyway, Winky is very much loved (by them, not me, I actually find him slightly sinister these days and make sure I never voluntarily touch his 'poisoned' areas, just in case, you know, there is some truth in their claims, call me paranoid and all that but the way my luck runs, you never can be too careful) and then last night my eldest said:

'I wish I could keep Winky longer'.

Of course you can we said, why couldn't you keep him?

'What you mean I can keep him until I'm a TEENAGER!'.

Yes, of course you can.

'WHAT! I can keep him forever!'.

Yes, he's yours!

'YES! I can keep Winky until I DIE and then I can leave him to somebody else......'.

Erm, right yes, that would be lovely.

So there we are. We now have a family heirloom. I expect him to appear on the Antiques Roadshow 200 years from now, together with a print out of this blog post to prove his provenance.

Priceless, that's what Winky is. Just make sure you don't touch his bell-end. Well not unless you've got a stuffed guinea-pig to hand.....