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I Have Never...

Thursday, May 12, 2005


"I Have Never talked about the relationship I have with my dad here."

I thought I'd better redress the balance a bit. Don't want people thinking I'm some sort of mummy's boy.

This year I will be exactly half my dad's age. He celebrated his 60th back at the start of April, I'll be 30 in July.

Bizarrely, in my head that means I've lost.

Am I really that competitive? That I would consider having a kid just to beat my dad?

No. 'Course not. It still niggles, though. By my age, my dad had studied at Oxford (got a 1st in Chemistry), was happily married and mum was pregnant.

Where did it all go wrong?

I suppose things are different. People get married and have kids later in the UK. They grow up slower than they used to.

Why is that?

"Why do I still hang around with people who are a decade younger than me?"

I'm avoiding the point. Again.

This is supposed to be about dad.

We have a typical bloke relationship, I suppose. We hardly say a word to each other. The usual cliche occurs if I call home. Dad will answer the phone, we exchange a couple of words and then he'll get mum who I end up spending half an hour nattering to. Or... Mum will answer the phone, we'll natter for half an hour, she'll ask "Do you want to have a word with your dad?", I'll grudgingly say yes and then have just that. A Word.

OK, I'm exaggerating, but not by much.

I remember when I was learning about sales (at the Big Chemical company...) that one thing really hit home with me.

"The Power of Silence". (ask me, and perhaps I'll explain this more in a later post)

Dad can do TPOS. He embodies TPOS. This could be partly down to his hearing going a bit, now. Still, he's been able to do TPOS most of his life.

As a family, we pretty regularly go out to restaurants for a meal. Maybe, my picture tells you that I'm pretty keen on food, but the moment I dread is right near the end. My mum and sister will decide to head off to the toilet together, leaving me and dad alone. Surrounded by people but silent.

When I was a teenager, I attempted to bridge this. I'd aim to make some sort of enquiry relating to his work, a hike he'd recently been on, or one of the choirs he was in.

I don't bother as much these days. I guess I've got to accept that not everyone feels the need to be verbose.

Sure he's mellowed a bit. Now retired, he dedicates his time to running the local branch of Samaritans. This initially bemused me.

Here was someone who I would never consider going to with a problem, out offering his services as a sounding board to complete strangers! (Selfish, I know) I should be proud. Proud as when mum won her photography award. Proud of the way he has chosen to use his retirement in voluntary support for others.

Do you know the film Big Fish? I guess our relationship is the reverse of that. I'm the one who weaves all sorts of bizarre stories out of my life, while dad chooses to keep things to himself. Private.

When I resigned from the big Chemical company, I was given 6 months 'Gardening Leave'. What a wonderful euphemism that is...
It meant that they gave me my company car, and paid me full whack, provided I didn't go directly to the competition.

I wasn't likely to, but this didn't stop me taking them up on the offer.

I have to be honest, though, and say that I pissed that six months away. I gave the car back eventually, and began to see my accumulated funds contract. It was a curious limbo. Not knowing what I wanted to do with the rest of my life meant that I was too scared to even consider the options. A classic example of 'it's better to do nothing'. Looking back, this was pretty high on the 'most stupid' list.

I was about a month or so away from having to sell my flat. Less than £1000 in the bank, with the mortgage alone being £400.

Dad came to visit. Alone.

He sat me down. Told me that he was going to employ some of the techniques he had learned at Samaritans. That it was going to be as hard for him as it was for me, but that it needed to be done.

We looked at my options together. Wrote numerous things on big sheets of paper. "What were my goals?" "Where did I see myself in 5 years time?"

I cried.

It was a pretty weak attempt at avoiding reality. Dad steered me through it, told me that it was my choice whether I kept my independence or ended up back living with him and mum.

I couldn't imagine that. My independence is very important.

The next day I went out, applied for 3 jobs and signed up to a couple of agencies. Within a week I had a job. Sure, it was in a call centre on little more than minimum wage, but I was back on the ladder... I have never applied myself to something so hard.

Six months down the line I became a team manager.

Thanks dad.

1 comment(s):

What a fantastic story.

By Blogger Anne, at 12:24 pm  

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