Monday, 21 June 2010

Happy Fathers Day

When I was about 10 years old, my dad drove me and my brother all the way to the South of France in a Citroen 2CV to go camping for 3 weeks.

Before we set off, my brother and I were placed in the car, and the tent, the lilos, food boxes, clothes, and all other manner of kitchen sinks were packed in around us so that we couldn't move. The little car was stuffed to the gunnels. Apart from the ferry crossing, I didn't see my brother for 2 whole days when we finally fell out of the car, blinking in the blazing sunshine, at Les Arcs campsite.

We had the most fabulous time. Dad and my brother ate nothing but the 4 million Vesta currys they'd packed, and I ate hot dogs. Loads of them. In fact, I ate so many, that I puked up one night.
'I've been sick,' I reported to dad.
'Oh that's good,' he replied, 'whereabouts?'
'In the sink.'
'Oh God.'
Poor dad had to clear up 10 hot dogs from the campsite sink. He couldn't believe that I'd swallowed them whole.

He took us to Monte Carlo, and as a good, responsible father, left us outside whilst he wandered in to one of the fancy casinos for a look. Two minutes later, he was hoyed out by 2 french bouncers. Seemingly, you weren't allowed in wearing a cheesecloth shirt, brown shorts and Jesus sandals. We laughed for ages about it over ice cold litres of panache each - (that's shandy in English.)

He took us snorkelling in a lovely secluded cove one day. My brother set about collecting clams. The only place he could store them was down his trunks, and when one of the little buggers decided to 'attach' itself to him, my dad found super-human strength to prise the mighty clam apart. Thanks to my dad, my brother went on to have 4 beautiful children.
I, of course, laughed and laughed until sundown, when I discovered that I had 10th degree burns on my chest from the sun. 'Dad, man, that NACKS!' I squealed as he roughly slapped the aftersun on like lard on an English Channel swimmer.
My brother was pleased to see me in pain. Served me right for laughing at his clammed 'bits.'

Dad also locked me in an outside toilet for 30 minutes. He didn't mean to, but as him and my brother tucked into the lovely french nosh at the restaurant, they suddenly realised that I was missing. He had bolted the door from the outside to keep me safe - not thinking that his daughter wasn't Houdini, and wouldn't be able to get out. I was fine about it. I knew he'd come back to get me eventually, and God knows why, but I sang an old geordie song - 'Cushy Butterfield,' 87 times to keep my spirits up. My brother smiled quietly when I sat down to eat my cold cheese omlette. He had enjoyed his half hour of peace.

I got my own back on my dad by sending him into a shop to get me some envelopes. I told him that the word for envelope was 'singe.'
Poor dad spent 15 minutes in there with the 2 bewildered shop ladies asking, over and over again - 'Avez-vous des singes? Singes? Singes!'
He didn't realise that he was actually saying, 'Have you any monkeys? Monkeys? Monkeys!'
Not sure I've ever been forgiven for that one.

Other minor things happened on that trip. An articulated lorry crashed into the side of our 2CV with me shouting 'Dad man, Dad man!' helpfully in the back as it got closer and closer to us on the roundabout.
Our tent also collapsed in the middle of the night, and my lilo burst, so I had to sleep the rest of the trip in the dinghy. Yes - we also took a dinghy.

With dads in charge, anything can happen. With my dad, this is still the case, whether he's walking into glass doors, falling into pizza restaurants or booling up to ancient Roman bath houses with his trunks rolled up in a towel asking '1 to swim please,' to the horrified English Heritage lady.

My 9 year old sometimes says to me - 'That's what Granda would say,' or 'That's a Granda face,' or 'that's what Granda would do.'

'Jolly good,' I say, 'because if I can be half of what Granda is, then you'll be a very lucky lad.'

Happy Fathers Day, dad - and to all you other dads out there. Have a lovely day.


  1. "Trouble in mind, and your'e blue
    But you won't be blue no way.
    'Cos the sun is gonna shine
    on your back door some day."
    20th July to be precise and I can't wait.
    And thank you for making me beal again and also for the fantastic Chinese lunch today,to celebrate Fathers'Day, so much better than the Vestas and hot dogs of 1978 xx

  2. You soppy ol' singe!
    "Summertime - an' the livin' is easy..." 20th July will be here soon. Plenty pizzas, Chinese, Vestas and hot dogs to scoff in the meantime.

  3. Not the old "singe" story again... The old ones are the good ones mind!!! My dad was doing a fine impression of Victor Meldrew on Sunday....Why did we go for a Thai meal when he liked Indian? Why didn't we have time for a coupla pints first? "Better make the most of it - won't be here next year" - he just turned 70 not 100 for Christs sake! Doesn't he know 70 is the new 50?!! Anyway just made me love him more...."Dads" - in my case - can't live with them but definitely can't live without them....!! Cheers!