In my head the summer ends as soon as I return to work from whatever hot climate I have laid it for a fortnight. As a modern Dad I have another week off before the kids go back to school as Jen returns to work. My only real responsibility during this time is to make sure the kids don’t burn the house down.
This is that week…. ‘Dad Week 2017’
This isn’t my forte, not my thing. I love my kids more than anything but I’m little use at entertaining them. Luckily the younger years are over. Gone are the soft play centre nightmares, the tedious cinema visit with hordes of brats watching substandard non-Pixar animation, the herding of the cats onto public transport and the crayons in the pizzeria. Now they entertain themselves with electronics or neighbours and my role tends to involve pointing the eating in a healthy direction.
With time on my hands I start preparing for the winter. I know this sounds drastic but I’m a seasonal planner. I like to be ready for all of nature’s scenarios and winter is coming regardless of the spectre of the fucking hateful ‘Indian summer’ where the coat balance is destroyed by climate change.
I start in the loft where I see if there is anything I can chuck out since last year. The loft is pushing maximum density but as usual nothing can be binned. Everything has been deemed ‘special’ and so I am instructed to add to to the carnage with more ‘special’ items in the shape of Action Men and vehicles that no one actually ever played with.
While I’m in the loft I reposition the winter stuff so it’s in handy reach of the door saving time should there be an emergency Halloween Party of Christmas Tree erection at short notice. (By the way, ‘Christmas Tree erection’ is an action and not a physical state following the positioning of the final baubel).
The loft is my responsibility as no one else will enter it as it’s dark, dirty and spider filled. The storage is now only the eaves so you can add ‘tight’ to the adjectives, in fact it’s tight like the tunnels under stalag 17, a real ball ache to move in. Jen first entered the loft upon completion of its conversion into a bedroom and stated that she didn’t see what the issue was. She avoided 10 years of semi light, dust and crud and the lottery of where you trod… joist or plasterboard? High tension. I once fell out of the loft hatch as I didn’t see the hole due to a landing light bring turned off by a well meaning kid saving the planet. I am their clown.
The eaves are now like the door to the back of Argos behind which a load of shit you don’t need is stored. I am merely the warehouseman in charge of entering the door to retrieve items that were either never required, not required now or thought long lost. Once a week I’m in there acting on some spurious request for paperwork from 2004 or a photo from 1987. I’ve found things in there that I don’t even remember buying let alone storing. It is out of control…
This year I have another task outside of the usual winter ‘nesting’ namely the redecoration of the boy’s bedroom. The rules of this house are that I do destruction, clear up, storing and painting. I don’t do preparation as it doesn’t meet the necessary standard laid down by the boss. I can’t be trusted with prep but am expected to stand on an inappropriate ladder grasping an overfilled paint kettle while ‘cutting-in’ to a high standard which will be scrutinised in silence at a later time. Luckily this suits me and I make light work of his room ensuring that it will be wipable throughout the ‘one sock’ years.
The main winter task in the sorting of the shed and ludicrously named ‘Summer House’ which is a bigger shed with more windows initially designed for relaxing in but now filled with crap that you need for 45 minutes a summer such as punch bags, football and kites…. y’know the other ‘special’ stuff that doesn’t fit in the loft.
Sheds are massively important in my life. They are the hub of masculinity. They need to be filled with weaponry you would associate with a post apocalyptic tundra overrun with the undead. Slashing, cutting and bludgeoning weapons must be instantly accessible when the door is open. Tools need to be in boxes similar to an 80′ architects briefcase, must be racked in descending order of height and usefulness and in some cases marked with stickers saying ‘Power drill – heavy torque’ or ‘precision sander #1’ just in case another man needs to see my electric power tool minerals.
The shelves need to be specific to garden, decorating and electrical and you must have a million screws, nails and multiple types of rawl plug none of which marry up and at least 2 saws you never use still in their cardboard sheaths. If you don’t have this stuff whether you need it or not you are nothing.
I have an angle grinder set, lump hammer and 12lb sledgehammer which have been used once to break up 6ft of paving. I recently found a heat gun that has never been used and a glue gun used once incorrectly in panic. There are socket sets for never fixing a car and wire strippers in case the electrician I employ can’t find his own as I appear to think it necessary to employ the trade and provide the tools. Madness maybe but a necessary madness.
I’m overjoyed with this year’s set up. It’s like the gun room Arnie has in ‘Commando’ with the electronic lock where he runs to when the hoods come for him and ‘Chenny’. It is magnificent and full proof shoukd Jen need to find anything before she returns it to the wrong location. I am a fucking genius when it comes to sorting shit out and she is the barometer.
I return to the house happy and triumphant and celebrate by making Spaghetti Bolognese and having a cup of tea and a biscuit.
….And then the phone rang….
My landline rarely rings, it’s only function is the need for the intergoogles, so when it rings it can only be Jen’s 105 year old grandmother, Jen’s Dad, a cold call or chillingly my father.
I check the clock, 1614 hours. It can only be my Dad who, for some reason has an uncanny knack of knowing when I’m off work. Of course, I could leave this call but why should I? I live here and there is a possibility that I could be missing out on some PPI or be reminded about an accident I never had.
I pick it up and am instantly assaulted verbally.
There’s a brief explanation as to who it is in the form of ‘it’s your Dad’ . Talking in the third person is the the classic sign of a nut-job and so he’s off to a convincing start. I didn’t need this information as I knew it was him, the ring gave it away…the ring and my rising blood pressure and sudden need to smash up my own living room.
After confirming his existence I ask him what he wants.
We no longer talk as a conventional father and son would and haven’t done for about 15 years. We usually have these short-burst violent conversations ending in extended periods of non communication. We haven’t spoken properly since about 2 weeks after the death of my mother when he was possibly the worst human on the planet at that point. There’s been a few contenders since but he’s still in the frame but little did I know that he was about to surpass his own very high standards of cuntery on a quiet Tuesday afternoon.
‘I want my property back’ he spits….’the property you stole’.
The property in question is some old photos that my Mum gave to me prior to her death. These pictures are all of random holidays and events and only came in to my possession as she was going to throw them out. I suggested that she gave them to me and I would scan them so they weren’t lost forever. They hold no real value…. but this fucker ain’t getting them as he doesn’t deserve them like he didn’t deserve my Mum.
I give him the bad news in a calm, deliberate manner totally ignoring every urge to unleash the fury placed genetically within me from the Devil himself on the end of the phone. In some ways I’m Hellboy. The Spawn of The Goat yet desperate not to bring on the destruction of mankind in favour of beer, chicks and hot dogs.
He don’t like my answer much as it disobeys a direct order from the Patriarch but fuck him , I’m no longer 12. He then dishes out a torrent of abuse which if I wasn’t the recipient of I may have well clapped.
Where shall I start?
It would appear that I have always been a ‘wanker’ or ‘pig’ who he lost control over when I was 18. At that point he reckons I started poncing off other people in order to survive. These ‘other people’ seem to be my ex girlfriends who’s names he gets wrong and in the wrong order. Without them I was nothing, ‘not a man’, ‘unable to survive’ as having a joint mortgage is a failing of manhood apparently. This fucker never had a mortgage as booze was more important than bricks and mortar but no matter…we move on.
Next up I’m a liar. No specific examples of the so-called lies are given other than everything I say now, then and in the future. For all my failings and there are a few, lying ain’t one of them. I’m almost too honest and made many a mistake sticking to the family motto of:
“Ní dóigh leat é, a rá”
….which roughly translated from the Gaelic is:
“Don’t think it, say it”
(For clarification we are only vaguely Irish and there is no family motto as there is no family. I added it as a break in the misery. If there were a family motto it would probably be ‘Shut the fuck up’ or ‘what did you say?’)
My honesty is out there. I’ve seen experienced operatives weep from facts delivered face to face, women cringe from straight talking that would never work, children cower when things explained plainly. If you want a straight answer to a real question I will give you it but you might not like it. I’ve made it my business to do this since adulthood so there is no ambiguity and my words actually mean something.
Of course I’ve lied, everyone lies at some point whether it be to not hurt feelings, pretend Father Christmas is coming, that someone elses baby is beautiful, to let a waiter know that the food was lovely or thr existence of a family motto. It’s human nature but as a rule I keep it as real as possible.
‘Liar’ is followed by the more disturbing ‘Thief’. Hmmm….. that’s a big word. A word worthy of a smack to the mouth…minimum. It certainly ain’t a word you throw around for a laugh. After the word ‘Stinking’ is added to ‘Thief’ I decide to delve a little deeper to establish the nature of the alleged thievery.
Inevitably this comes down to money and the few pennies Mum managed to cobble together far enough away from the old man’s whiskey glass wielding hands and the pub we believe he was keeping afloat somewhere in North London.
There’s nothing sinister going on here. I distributed the pennies according to the instructions I was given by my Mum as the appointed executor of the estate. At all times everyone affected was informed of the actions taken.
But now he’s not happy and I’ve ‘filled my pockets’ and ‘stolen’ the money completely forgetting that he received a sizable chunk but has probably spent it on shit. Now he wants what was left for Mum’s grandchildren. He explains through various insults that I have it wrong and that money is his and never meant to be given to the young for their futures and was supposed to be used for a car but as the driver of that vehicle is dead he should receive the cash. Almost like a prize…
Luckily he is faced by a less aggressive and evil version of himself and so I simply fact blast the stroker into silence. There is absolutely no way any money sent to the grandkids is being reallocated to him to piss down the kharzi. I stand firm which is relatively easy and simply involves the repeat of the single word ‘No’. As I was brought up in a house of professional, stubborn, nasty fuckers of which he was King I am effectively the Sorcerers Apprentice but with added calm and so he is now floundering.
If you know me you will realise that I’m pretty on top of stuff like this and so after dealing with the funeral and all my Mum’s affairs I have a meticulous audit trail with all receipts and transfers recorded. I actually planned for this exact moment which I predicted 14 months ago when the fake tears of this monster dried up.
I’ve been like this for years, anal to the point of lunacy with the memory of an elephant.
It all began when I started playing Amateur football and kept a record (initially in print) of the 676 matches, 275 goals (only 8 headers, 2 in finals), 5 red cards (3 for fighting, 2 for foul and abusive language), 6 concussions, 7 lost semi finals, 3 cup wins, 2 league titles, 2 Golden boots and one brother suspended from the club.. you get the idea.
I’m not worried about the threat given of a police investigation into theft or a misappropriation of funds which this conversation has now descended into and he knows it and so he comes out with this pearler before hanging up the phone.
“…I hope you die screaming….”
I listen to the dialling tone for a moment before clicking the phone off.
This is a line he used to say to my Mum during rows and arguments and he effectively got his wish with her so it cuts to the core.
This is the sort of insult that stays with you. I’ve had all the others and due to my upbringing, combatative nature, employment and location I expect and accept them. Not this though. This is beyond the pale and from the lips of my father. This is beyond human acceptability and something you could only say to someone threatening your family.
The main thing is it was the last straw. Why would I want myself to be associated with a person like this? And even more pressing why would I want my kids to be involved with this person because eventually he’ll be saying this stuff to them.
For years my Mum suggested the old man had a screw loose but I don’t believe that. He has had enough professional assessment of his swead over the years to fill a medical conference and at no point has anyone said he is anything other than lucid.
What you get from my Dad is horror and the ability the crush people mentally. He is a mind bully and always has been. He single handedly destroyed all aspects of what could have been a slightly functional family through his own twisted mentality which is far more damaging than any slap you could ever give.
My Mum had this shit for decades and in the middle we, the sons and brothers got it, the brain washing of fear and hate. This made us all slightly mad and uncompromising resulting in no communication and more dislike and hate of each other. In the end my Mum almost became him with similar traits of aggression, jealousy and spite. That was the saddest part of her death… the Mum I knew and loved was gone and was replaced by a carbon copy of the thing she disliked the most.
The death of a parent would usually bind a family together but it just made an unbearable situation worse if that was possible. Nobody gave a fuckin inch as we were trained to never step back, it was the ultimate standoff.
I struggled badly after Mum died. It is almost impossible to explain loss if you haven’t actually experienced it. The simplest things become magnified into huge emotional struggles. The lack of a phone call or birthday card, the random unwanted visit or advice on parenthood, all gone forever. I went through a phase of seeing Mum in all kinds of places even though that was impossible. It’s amazing how similar old women can look when you are suffering deep grief.
In the wake of all this I was referred for Grief Counselling with a lovely Irish woman. I was very sceptical but Jen insisted I went as she was sick of me banging on about my Dad as the issue. I agreed as I was sick of her telling me to just ‘forget it’.
I had three sessions and it was apparent immediately that I was right and he was the issue. Towards the end of the final session (I decided it was the last session, an endless amount were available) she asked me if I wanted to see my Dad again to which I said ‘No’. I waited for the big reveal, the pearl of wisdom where she would explain to me that engaging with him was the answer but to my shock she said:
“Then don’t, stop beating yourself up and move on with your own family”
Even a professional could find no positive…
The level of nastiness and hate within my Dad is incredible and seems to revolve around a belief that as he was involved in your birth he owns you forever. If I thought I would ever think that or say such a thing as he said to me this week to one of my kids I would take myself away from them forever. He thrives off it, it is the fuel that keeps him going. But no more, this well is dry and so now there will be nothing for him from me except emptiness and the end.
Anyway, if you think that is depressing think on…. Next time I’ll be talking about The Arsenal and my association with it for 40 years and where we go after the humiliation at the hands of the Mickey Mousers…
More crud later.. .