I was going to do the best fictional dads post in honour of father’s day. Atticus Finch, if you’re interested. No contest. He makes lawyers look good for crying out loud. But it seemed to be somewhat overdone.
I decided instead to write about my dad, but what should I say? I’m frightened of clichés. I am so monumentally British that sentimentality brings me out in hives. So here’s what I’ll say about my relationship with my dad. We sang together, making up our own ridiculous blues songs based on Shakespearian tragedies. We belted out operatic warblers about the more mundane aspects of life, like what to do when your wife is a serial rescuer of reduced section food. We watched Vic Reeves Big Night Out together, laughing until we cried. He was full of bad jokes and anecdotes and he did impressions of people we knew. He couldn’t walk past a tea cosy without using it as a hat. He couldn’t walk past a shop window without doing that scissor legs reflection thing. You know the thing. And he couldn’t walk through a park without hiding behind several trees and muttering “code words” to strangers. He was just a sort of marvellous wally. He was there for me until the day he wasn’t. The day he died. I tried to think of some words of wisdom that he’d imparted in a moment of earnest clarity but all I could think of was “never leave a wagon wheel on the dashboard”. Eminently sensible, of course, but no use to me. I don’t even like wagon wheels. Or own a car.
So I’ll try not to feel bad that I can’t remember any words of wisdom. Or that I sometimes forget the sound of his voice or the way he laughed. Or that his face doesn’t come to mind every day as it used to. What’s important is that I always remember what really matters – how he made me feel – like there was nobody he’d rather spend his time with than me.
Happy father’s day to all the dads out there doing their best.