Tell Me About Your Father

November 26, 2010

I never knew my real father. I don’t think my mother did either. If I were a human, I suppose I would make my mother go on TV and name all the Toms she thought could be my father, make them all have DNA tests and then have their moment speaking to camera, saying how my mother was ‘nothing but a ho!’, and that there was no way I was their kitten because I didn’t even look like them (‘I’m a ginger! I ain’t got no black fur! That cat is BLACK!’, etc). Then, when the DNA tests were announced (‘Marmalade? You ARE the father!’), my mother would do a dance round the stage screaming, ‘I want my money! I WANT my MONEY!’, and then we would all go back stage and be offered counselling and Marmalade would cry and say he would be there for me.

These are the kinds of thought landscapes I conjure up if I sit for too long next to the heater.

Anyhoo…

My Dad is the only Dad I’ve ever known. He’s a lovely Dad. Even when he’s tried to make me eat mushrooms and eggs, he’s still a fabulous Dad. When he was at university and didn’t have enough money to feed him AND me, I still had cat food and he still kept up my pet insurance. And that’s what being a parent is, I think; putting your own wants, your own needs, after those of the person of whom you take care and not begrudging it one bit;  that, and facilitating demands for episodes of ‘Peppa Pig’ and requests for new toys (how I am KICKING MYSELF at my inability to speak. I would be asking, day in, day out, for those hilarious youtube clips of cats trying to jump through closed windows and falling asleep on people’s heads and such like).

So, I love him, and he loves me, but that doesn’t stop him being a ridiculous  human being.

Example No 1: ‘Spartacus’.

My Dad and The Mushroom are watching a bizarre programme on the TV about a gladiator who, it appears, is semi-naked a lot and surrounded by people who do a lot of shagging and then they fight and there’s spurty blood and Spartacus, the main one, always wins. They are watching a scene where people are blindfolded and having swords thrown at them. Good times.

“Arghg”, moans my Dad. “I hate that. That feels awful, that does.”

The Mushroom looks at him. “What?”

“That”, he says, nodding in the direction of the TV. “That’s a really awful feeling. I get my boys to do that in football training.”

The Mushroom looks at him some more.

“You get your boys to blindfold each other and throw swords? Really? I think that might be frowned upon.”

“No. I get them to close their eyes when practising throw-ins. It’s the same kind of thing.”

The Mushroom then laughs so hard she makes no sound.

Example No 2: Werewolves.

My Dad is an atheist. He doesn’t believe in ghosts, or spirits, or vampires, or an afterlife, or ghouls, or goblins. He is short and snide about these beliefs. ‘I just can’t see’, he always says, ‘how an intelligent person can believe it.’  And off he’ll walk, head held high, feeling a bit smug.

My Dad is frightened of nothing. He’s a big bloke. He’s strong, mentally and physically. He knows a bit about martial arts. He’s a bit of a Viking. People tend not to argue with him.

He walks tall.

And then he’ll see a forest. And it will be getting dark. And he’ll start to shake a bit.

Because there might be werewolves in that forest.

I’m not even joking.

It is bizarre in the extreme that someone who cannot accept the idea of a God can totally buy that there are half dog/half man creatures baying in the park. I remember once he and The Mushroom had left the pub the other side of Greenwich Park a bit later then they had planned, and got locked in the park until the warden heard them shouting and let them out. The Mushroom was giggly about it. My Dad opened a bottle of Jack Daniels, took a glug, and waited for the puce colour to go from his cheeks.

‘That’s not so bad’, you might be thinking. ‘Forests ARE scary.’ Yes, they are. I wouldn’t go in one, for fear of real things like wolves and cougars and giant cat-eating Moose (I know I’m out of the Prairies, but they haunt me in my dreams). I wouldn’t, however, insist that I sleep by the wall in case there’s a werewolf under my bed.  If there was, I might add, I doubt sleeping by the wall would offer much protection.

Example No 3:  Hair-cuts.

You get what you pay for, I feel.

“I just got my haircut for THREE DOLLARS!” exclaimed my Dad, grinning wildly at this bargain, as he came in the house one Saturday afternoon. He walked past The Mushroom and The Baby, who had stopped what they were doing to look at him, and went straight into the bathroom. Where he saw himself in the mirror. Out he came.

“And they appear to have made me look like a President.”  He wasn’t grinning so much.

None of this matters, of course. He can believe himself to be some sort of Lanista, can dream fearful dreams of terrifying dog/man hybrids and get as many side-partings as he likes; he’s still my Dad. I have to share him now, first with The Mushroom and then with The Baby, whose claims on him appear to be even greater and more powerful than mine (and who, although I know it’s not strictly relevant here, has started shouting really random things in her sleep. Last night, at about 3 am, it was, ‘I really want the number ten!’), but he is still my favourite person in the world. It doesn’t matter that he’s not my real father. My real father is probably a right chav cat, anyway, and cats aren’t brilliant at doing important stuff, like finding nice houses to live in and going into shops to buy kitty treats and tickling under chins.

And, importantly, he has started, once again, buying me Iams.