I been finding myself thinking a lot about my Dad recently.
But before you click away - this isn't a maudlin sentimental blog at all....Dad's alive and kicking back in Ol' Blighty, as vigorous and opinionated as ever - think Alf Garnet (Alfie for my US friends), but thankfully without the racism.
Growing up, we butted heads. About politics - he's working class Tory, my first real boyfriend was a member of the Worker's Revolutionary Party - about education - he thinks everything that ended with 'ology" was a complete waste of time and money - so I studied English Literature (Ha!)..
You get the picture. My Dad was (is) an extremely hard worker and a smart man. Annoyingly he was often right - it was sometimes a challenge to find an plausible opposing argument,
"You're an idiot , what the hell are they teaching you?".......yes, Dear Old Dad.
The first time I got drunk, of course I vomited. I expected a lecture. I didn't get one.
"You and Alcohol" he said 'Do Not Mix".
A few years earlier, when I was a sullen and uncooperative teenager, we took a trip to America.
Up until then, we had always gone to Swanage in Dorset for two weeks and stayed at the Craigendoran Hotel ( I still remember the paisley carpet and smell of fried breakfast). We had made friends with people from all over England (Sarah, with an exotic Manchester accent, who cried inconsolably when Elvis died), and so when my parents announced that we were going on the Holiday of a Lifetime, I behaved like the self -centred, ungrateful little cow that I was, and showed off about missing my two weeks in Dorset!
I couldn't help but get excited about the trip. I had never flown before, I had never heard an American accent before, I had never eaten a Big Mac before......and the highlight of my trip....I had never met a Real Live Published Author before.
I can't remember the exact circumstances of the meeting, but I spent an afternoon with Jacqueline Jackson (she has published several children's book and memoirs) and I daydreamed about being exactly like her, because I loved to write too, and we both had the same name, so obviously I was going to grow up and be a famous novelist!!
It was, and still ranks as one of the Top Ten days of my life.
When Jacqueline (first name terms of course) signed a copy of 'The Taste of Spruce Gum" for me, my Dad, who finds all kinds of artistic people quite exasperating, said " I have no idea where she gets all these arty ideas from...certainly not from me!"
Ms. Jackson said " You gave her the Gift of Enthusiasm, and that's all she needs"
Over the last years, I have suffocated that gift from my Dad. I haven't told him yet that I have quit drinking - he is half way across the world, but last time I spoke to him on the phone..
."Can't believe you haven't got a real job yet...."....he said "You sound happy....speak to your Mum now"
I didn't get a chance to tell him that annoyingly he had been right about the bloody alcohol and that finally, finally....I have been dusting off his gift to me.
(OK, I lied, it was sentimental).