Nerves and Back Slapping

And so they’re finally here, our visitors from Sweden for a long weekend – dad and my youngest brother P. Because Monkey has a friend over this afternoon and that makes more of us than can fit into the car, B has gone off with dad and P to get some steak and salad for dinner, so I’m taking the opportunity to get the morning pages done even though, once again, it’s actually late afternoon and in candle light just like yesterday.

It’s hard not to be too gushing when I write about dad, hard not to go all OTT lovey when I talk about my father who I adore so much. Yesterday he blew me away by paying me what’s probably the best compliment I’ve ever had, and today he surprised me again. Actually, I nearly fell off my chair. Someone must have prompted him, and I’m starting to suspect it might have been B.

Don’t get me wrong – my father would do anything for me and I have always known that, so I have never questioned his unconditional love for me. It’s just that he’s a very pragmatic man, and so to him, this book writing leap I’ve taken is simply something he can’t relate to, never mind understand. But perhaps I was wrong about that, unless of course B is behind what happened just a couple of hours ago.

B and P went out to the garden for a game of football with Monkey and his little friend, and dad and I just sat down and chatted away. And at the point in the conversation when I expected him to start the how-much-income-do-you-bring-in line of questioning, he dropped the bomb:

How’s the writing going? What’s the book about?

I nearly choked. That’s just not the sort of thing my dad asks. Not because he doesn’t care, but simply because he just isn’t wired to ‘get’ stuff like that. He’s all about 40-hour weeks and income vs out-goings.

If you want to tell me obviously, don’t feel you have to!” he added.

I’d love to!” I shrieked in my excitement.

And then I went on to tell him all about Alice, suddenly found I was nervous and it all came spluttering out and probably made no sense at all. But he listened intently, nodding and smiling. A first! Or perhaps it wasn’t. Perhaps I have just underestimated just how much he actually IS interested. I’ve just always assumed that he’s been the father I’ve always seen – the father who isn’t impressed by flights of fancy or titles or qualifications or big salaries. The father who values hard work, be it cleaning toilets or running the country. So long as you work hard, he cares less about what it is you work hard at. So writing and the creative fields in general are probably a bit whimsical to him.

I don’t care if this was prompted. It meant the world to be to get to pitch Alice to my hero, and even though it was just a while ago and therefore very fresh in my memory, I doubt I’ll ever forget the way he looked at me as I stuttered and stammered my way through Alice’s quest. It’s a little daunting to pitch your ideas to someone you’ve got on a pedestal all your life, no matter how secure you feel about that person adoring you. It unsettled me – in a good way! – and made me really awkward. Nervous, at the same time as it meant more to me and made me happier than I could possibly put into words.

It’s lovely to have them here. My dad usually wants to use any boyfriends for target practice – i.e. THEM being the target – but he loves B. You can always tell with him. When the back slapping starts, that means he approves. And he slaps B on the back a LOT. Actually, they’ve been gone for nearly an hour – no way would a trip to the butcher’s and Waitrose take this long – so chances are they’re in a pub. It’s lovely that they all get on so well and like each other so much, so if that’s the case then I’m happy – both because I got some writing time and because I think it’s important that they get time to chat without me there. I spoke too soon, I can hear them outside through the open window. My father’s booming laughter carries for miles, and B’s deep voice is unmistakable. I can hear P laughing too.

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