Dad

It’s a weird time, my birthday. I always hated it growing up, I think the fact it always lands around Father’s Day was always a kick in the teeth for me. Not only was my dad not around to celebrate my day, he wasn’t around for me to celebrate his day either. I don’t really remember my dad’s birthday, mum was never cross with me for not knowing, simply because it was that. He never was there so I never forgot, I just didn’t know. How sad is that? That I don’t even know my dad’s birthday. I only get reminded by my sisters Facebook memories.

When all the other kids were out for Fathers day meals and stuff, I wasn’t. When they were on the fields, practising football or rugby. I was in my room on my computer and video games. He was good at everything my dad. Rode motorbikes, flew planes (model and real), played cricket, played rugby, did stand up comedy. I mean, he literally could do anything. There’s no way I could have lived up to him, but I wished so hard he’d have been around to teach me stuff, to be more like him. He was a good man by all accounts. Funny, kind, charming, clever, to name but a few. He was short though, so at least I have one thing on him.

Me, I was crap at everything, football, rugby, running, you name it. So, I quietly kept myself to myself. I loved reading, it was an escape, you could be profoundly in love with Pandora (one for the older ones) or off to Narnia. Kids these days get transported to Hogwarts. That’s the great thing about imagination. I wasn’t a sad kid without a dad there. I could be the biggest, fastest, strongest, funniest.. anything I wanted to be. But there’s always a bump when reality bites. Anxiety, anxiousness, paranoia are the worst. When you overthink everything and get stuck in your own thoughts, it’s a terrifying place.

Life works in mysterious ways, and from the pits of sadness and despair, something happened, (everything happens for a reason) and suddenly, my birthday became my daughters birthday. Fathers day changed, from me being an empty child, to a fulfilled parent. I didn’t have to worry or focus on me anymore and what I didn’t have. I could focus on this amazing gift, sent to show me that things always turn out okay. There’s always a reason.

Sure the anxiety remains, the self doubt nags away. It’s different, but at least there’s a reason to smile. I always wonder if I was a good son, and I’ll always worry if I’m a good dad.

It’s okay not to be okay, and when you’re struggling, really struggling, talk to your loved ones, your pals, anyone that will listen. Sometimes a different perspective changes everything. Life is so so precious, and can be gone in the blink of an eye, so never take anything or anyone for granted.

Be Kinder – Caroline Flack follow up

I’ve heard about the Caroline Flack documentary, and as I write this, I’m watching it. Inspired to do so by my guest post by JD. You see he’s one of lifes good guys. Genuinely. Someone who, despite having never met, I know tries to make a difference.

How do I know? Well one time when I’d gone off twitter for a short while. He sent me a card, just to say hey, just to check in as it was the only way he could contact me. He didn’t have to, he just did it. Went out of his way.

Caroline was well known, a familiar face on TV and on the front pages of the newspapers. She was a beautiful, funny, talented woman, ultimately a victim of her own success.

Watching the documentary, there’s a harrowing moment where she’s recording a video, distressed, wrapped in a parka and a yellow burberry scarf. Trying to scrape the tears from her face, saying the only person she’s ever hurt is herself. I can’t imagine how watching that makes her family and friends feel. It makes you want to reach through the screen and reassure her it’ll be okay. However, it won’t be. She’s now just a bookmark in entertainment history, but we must learn from her tragic loss and do better.

It was a fight, I’ve never hurt anyone in my life. The only person I’ve ever hurt is myself.

Caroline Flack

#BeKind shouldn’t just be a hasthtag that’s used to make us feel better. ‘Oh I wrote Be Kind so I’m good’. Look through your last 20 tweets. Is everything you wrote, particularly about someone else, true, necessary and kind. If the answer to just ONE of those is NO then why’s it there? Delete it!

Too many people are quick to write negative things. Just a few weeks ago, a good friend was thrilled to be playing a vinyl of one of her favourite artists and she tagged them in the short video. To my surprise.. I saw a reply that began ‘unpopular opinion’. Then I was gobsmacked to read something derogatory about the band. They’d untagged the band which I guess they thought was a kind thing to do. But it just showed me that the comment was unnecessary. Why do people on social media feel the need for controversy just for the sake of it. Or one-upmanship. Many times I see someone post a new release song they love. Instead of just letting people enjoy it, others are quick to boast and brag that they heard it weeks ago because they curate for a radio show or similar. For goodness sake just let the people that buy the merch and stream the music enjoy it. Praise the artist for a great song. Don’t make it about you, it’s such a dick move.

Watching the comments about social media, it was like an addiction for her. People posting the most abhorrent tweets about her. But she couldn’t stop looking, I guess she just wanted to be loved. She bottled all of this up from those she loved though. How many of us say, ‘yeah I’m fine’ when really there’s a whole heap of problems rolling round the back of your head. How someone can actually have written ‘Caroline Flack is one of the ugliest hosts on tv’.  I mean.. come on.. she was simply stunning.

I guess there are two things I take from this. 1. Be careful what you post, you can’t see someone’s reaction behind a screen. You may say something that might seem funny to you but you might just have inadvertently mentioned something about their biggest insecurity. It starts with you. You might be one sole voice in a sea of millions but you aren’t responsible for those others.

The other thing is check on your friends. The signs for Caroline were there, the reliance on social media, the craving to be loved. The fact her mum would dread her inevitable splits from boyfriends because she couldn’t handle heartbreak is just so desperately sad. The story of her final Christmas is again just haunting. Her family thrilled to be around her for a special day. Seeing the images of the bedroom, and the implication that the blood spilled was her actions on someone else, not herself, again is desperately sad and plain wrong. Seeing the sadness in her twin sister is just heartbreaking when she’s asked what she’d say to her now, and she awkwardly fidgets with her earring, her eyes glass up and she delicately whispers ‘I don’t know’.

Sometimes you have to be persistent. If your friends aren’t responsive, be patient. Keep checking. If you stop, they may think no one cares. I am sure that like Amy Winehouse, one person could have made a difference for Caroline too. You can be that difference and it starts with a little kindness.

Just another day as the years roll by

It’s hard when somethings gone and you’ve never really had it in the first place. You know, that nagging feeling you’ve forgotten something but you can’t for the life of you think what? It’s there in the back of your mind somewhere, but try as you might it just won’t spring to the fore.

I guess that’s how I can describe not having my dad. He was never there, but I knew he was missing. The years have rolled by. Forty three years to the day to be exact. I torture myself with have I wasted my years. After all, I’m six years older than he was when he was cruelly taken away on that snowy winters day. He’d done a lot. Captained the local cricket team, played rugby to a decent level too. He fancied himself as a comedian and even won a talent contest at Butlins.

He worked so hard, he’d worked down the pits as a lot of kids his age did in the grim towns of the North.  When the pits closed though, he didn’t sulk, he cracked on and qualified as a teacher. He even taught future world champion boxer John Conteh. Dad would probably joke that he taught him everything he knew to be honest.

As for playing hard, yep, he did that too. He was forever taking motorbikes apart, usually in my grandma’s kitchen. Much to her annoyance. When he wasn’t doing that he was building and flying model aircraft. I think he did it at Burtonwood. That used to be a magical place for me as a kid, but since the old aircraft hangars have been replaced with modern warehouses for The Hut Group and Dominoes… it’s kind of lost it’s charm. He didn’t stop at model aircraft though and when he left us,he’d actually completed many hours training to be a pilot. He was a right daredevil my dad. Me, not so much. Maybe, just maybe I’d be a bit more daring if I’d have had more of his influence rather than just his genes.

But, as one of my favourite Feeder songs exclaims

We can’t rewind!

I don’t know what he’d make of Covid. He’d probably shrug his shoulders and get back to fixing or tinkering something as the world rolls on. I’m sure many of you have lost loved ones. As one of my good friends said today ‘it’s the circle of life’. I quickly replied ‘alright Elton’. Maybe I have got some of his comedy genes after all, as they found it hilarious.

As some of you know, mum’s not been well either. Her MRI showed she’d had four strokes not the three we believed. However she is a warrior. She’s faced so much in life and still battles on. I’m not sure how my heart will cope when anything happens to her. I mean I know it will. When you’re younger, most just take for granted that your parents will be around. They seem indestructible. Especially when handing out punishments. As you mature though, you see their weaknesses grow and their shield lower. You become the one worrying about them, protecting them. It’s a sobering moment, that’s for sure.

I guess that’s why the years rolling by without dad get easier. As much as I’ve never heard his voice or smelled his scent. It wasn’t taken from me as a memory. Just a dream, one which I can play out however I imagine.

I miss him, I always will. My sisters got the holidays and the memories, but they also got the heartbreak much more than I did. So I feel for them more than I used to. I used to be jealous but no one wins, every hurt is valid and relevant to every person.

So please, whatever you do, be kind. Always.

Unconditional Love

Loving Someone you barely know.

Imagine for one second, that you had the unconditional love of someone for seven months. Someone so ecstatic you were in their life, they performed cartwheels in front of strangers. How sweet to know that someone had nothing but unconditional, unadulterated love for you.

Sounds perfect right? The stuff that happens only in movies. I mean real life gets in the way of everyone doesn’t it and we get tired and emotional. Misunderstandings and miscommunication causes all sorts of anxiousness, unrest, jealousy.

Now imagine, knowing that, but not being able to experience it. Imagine craving all of that but never feeling it. The purest most perfect love,, that was there but out of reach. Heart wrenching surely. But, despite the nature of this post, you might believe me when I say I feel like I am the lucky one.

The 25th May 1940, was the day that my dad was born. Whilst World War Two was gaining momentum, along came a baby, that led me to be sat here writing this. You see, I don’t remember my dad. He was taken away cruelly from me when I was just 7 months old. I grew up without him, I don’t remember when I understood he wasn’t there. He just never was. Sure I was jealous of the kids with the whole family. The dads that took their son to rugby, camping and fishing. The dads that took apart motorcycles and cars.

Just last year, I got help with my car and was taught a few basic things. Someone that looked out for me when I worked for them. When I looked up at the sun that day and took it all in, a tear rolled down my cheek. I realised what I’d missed out on. Dad would definitely have taught me all of these things and some.

My dad could turn his hand to anything. He was clever, funny, kind, was captain of the local cricket team. He worked down the pits but when they closed he trained to be a teacher and taught troubled kids in a rough area in Liverpool. He was training to be a pilot and MADE model aeroplanes. How cool is that!

Dad’s Spitfiire

Do I think of him often? Hell yes! Would I alter my path? Hell No

I used to be angry he wasn’t there. Every birthday and every new year my heart ached, wondering what it would have been like. I’d take a moment alone. My 21st birthday arrived and was a Saturday. I worked in a bar at the time and my school friends were at University (I wasn’t brave enough to go to Uni). Everyone and I mean everyone expected me to have the night off, but I felt insulted. A night off to do what? Be alone! All my friends at Uni were in the middle of exams. All my friends from the bar were working in the middle of a World Cup (France 98) so I politely declined and pleaded to work. They only relented when I finally snapped back.

“For fucks sake, it’s MY twenty first and I WANT to work. If I had a choice I’d go to the pub for a quiet pint with my DAD but seeing as no one can make that happen, I’ll work please!!”

They obviously relented and I worked. The bar was decorated with posters of me, the screen displayed messages for me. I only ended up working for about an hour and half and then I was spoiled with drinks and gifts” But I still took that moment alone, and thought about Dad later on.

Would I have played cricket at a high level? Would I have flown model aircraft? I think so, but in my Twilight Traveler post for Carolyna Luna states. I wouldn’t change anything. In one of those parallel universes somewhere, there’s no lockdown and Covid-19 and I have made him his favourite dessert (whatever that is, I’ll have to ask my mum) and I am toasting his 80th birthday.

But here and now, I will just toast him with a scotch later. I take comfort in how excited he was to be finally having a boy. Our only Christmas together he set up a model trainset for me despite me being only 6 months. It’s a photo I cherish.

Yours truly – Christmas 1977

I used to be so annoyed when kids would say “I Hate my dad!” I longed to have real feelings about my dad, they didn’t realise how lucky they were, but as you get older you realise families aren’t perfect, and some of you will have reasons for wishing nothing to do with your dad. I get it. So that’s why I am lucky. A perfect love, a man I can put on a pedestal because he never let me down. A man that cherished me every day, singing Johnny Mathis ‘When a child is born’ endlessly annoying my mum, waiting for me to arrive.

I know I have made mistakes, as we all do. However I think I am a decent person. I certainly believe I inherited his kindness from what others have said and I hope I have done him proud.

So Dad, Happy Birthday. I Love You. David x