Fathers and Sons Part 2
I feel a bit 'Bah Humbug' about Fathers' Day, to be honest. I don't ever recall it happening when I was a child. I don't remember writing my father a card or ever giving him a present. This would imply that it is a more recent invention - a conspiracy of commercialism. Something to get cards and gifts sold, and restaurant tables booked. If the money is staying in the local economy, this is no bad thing, especially in these times of austerity.
One of the reasons that I don't remember giving my dad treats on Fathers' Day is perhaps because the man rarely sat still. When I was a child, I never saw him with his feet up reading the paper, or asking to be left alone while he sat around doing nothing. He was restlessly productive from morning until night. I have no memory of him watching television. It has been claimed that we watched Doctor Who together - in the days when you could still follow the plots, and the set wobbled - but I don't actually remember this happening. My memory is of him making wooden toys, or go-karts, or getting his car ready for its MOT with the help of a Haynes Manual. Or, he used to inflict endless DIY and decorating on our desire for a well-ordered environment. It always looked brilliant when he had finished; until the next project commenced. Constructing a few cold frames in the garden was nothing. On one house he built the extension himself. I only know of him going to the cinema twice, and one of those was Star Wars. That doesn't really count. Everyone in 1977 went to see Star Wars. The last thing in the world that he would have wanted on Fathers' Day was insistence that he stop for a few hours while we all gather around him with treats. He'd have just found us irritating. It now seems tragic, rather than ironic that he is no longer able to do any of these things, and, I fear, he may have little recollection of ever having done them.
I wonder what memories my own children will have of Fathers' Day. The downside of being so relentlessly dissident and anti-capitalist is that people take you seriously. So, when I said that I didn't want any cards or any of the other trappings of a made-up crappy excuse to get people to part with their cash, I meant it. But, I still got a bit grumpy as I was making lunch. What did I expect? When could the eleven year old have done something? He is incarcerated in Ballet School six days a week and needs his only free 45 minutes a day to keep his head together. Did I really imagine him to be colouring in a picture of a racing car, or a tractor, or a golfer during this precious three-quarters of an hour? And the six year old? She had been advised by her (adult) cousin on the phone the night before to just give me a hug; which she did. That'll do. Any evidence that she isn't a sociopath - our greatest fear in life - is gratefully acknowledged.
So, how will they reflect on their dad when they are older? I expect they will say that he watched a lot of TV, and did some writing; that he had a pathological fear of anything practical like gardening or DIY, and they will probably say that the greatest love in his life was ice cream and sweets. They will also probably mention that he was an iconoclast who hated the Tories, and that he only had two modes of operating: merriment - when everything is silly and fun; and martyr - when he lets everyone know how much he suffers ... like on Fathers' Day.
I hope your Fathers' Day was okay.