With Father’s Day fast approaching (for another year), I started thinking about my dad. I call him dad, not father although I will refer to him as my father throughout this post and the subsequent ones. I thought I would break them down to manageable chunks, just so you don’t get bored.
Every morning, usually like clockwork, my father phones me to see how I am doing. I say my father but he constantly denies it, almost as much as I tell him he can’t be my father. We then go on to insulting each other, indispersed with comments, views and assessments of current affairs. For an outsider listening in, it would sound like a bizarre conversation. It certainly doesn’t sound like a conversation between a father and his son who care for each other. The conversation lasts, on average, forty minutes, sometimes longer, sometimes shorter. It all depends on how I am feeling that day.
The phone calls started after my accident. My father and I never used to have this kind of rapport, it’s only recent. I will only speak to him in the morning, never in the afternoon or evenings. Although we have a laugh and a joke during our morning conversations and, considering our very tempestuous history, I love him as much as any son could love his father, my affection does not extend past the morning.
My father and I have a complicated relationship.
My father was in the Army, something he was proud of. He comes from Yorkshire and is proud of that too. As a soldier and a Yorkshireman, he was as open to new ideas as a bigot living in Bigotsville. That is to say, he wasn’t!
As their first child, I was spoilt. On the other end of the scale, my younger brother, although loved and cared for, was not given the same amount of attention. There was a price for this, though. I was expected to excel at everything I did. If I did not get straight ‘A’s on my reports from school, I would pay the price and that price tended to be painful. My brother, on the other hand, could get ‘D’s and ‘E’s and my parents wouldn’t bat an eyelid, commenting that he wasn’t as academic as I was. My father was very ‘Victorian’ in his views. I was his son, my brother was my mother’s son. Strange, I know, but in his mind, I was the heir and my brother was someone to keep me company whilst I grew up.
Obviously this was very unfair to my brother but he didn’t seem to care. He was what people would call a loving child. He was generous and helpful. He adored both my mother and father and never once begrudged the fact that I got everything I asked for and he didn’t (apart from birthdays and Christmas – he always got everything he wanted then). It wasn’t that my parents were mean to him, not in the slightest. He just wasn’t me. As he grew up and became aware of this, he started to change his opinion. Naturally.
As for me, I was considered selfish. I wasn’t a giving child and I wonder if this was one of the consequences of being pushed too hard. Although I found school pretty easy, I resented the fact that I had to get good grades and my brother didn’t. I resented the way I was punished if I didn’t attain the grades he expected from me. In the end, I resented a lot of things. I think that my rebellious nature was to be expected and it all came to a head when I was eighteen. My father and I had a massive argument. He was drunk and I was itching for a reason to beat him. In the end, he kicked me out onto the streets with only the clothes on my back.
That began the contempt I felt for him. The contempt that still exists to this day.