A GUEST SERIES
Released as a single in June 1990 (Reached Number 75)
A few years back I wrote about an incident that happened to my dad when I was five. Without going into the gruesome details, most of you will hopefully recall them anyway, he was stabbed by my mother. From there, the story twisted and turned into a piece about my mother, who is dead now, and some issues that I had with grief, or rather the lack of grief I felt over her death. I recalled sitting on a bench in a cemetery and letting about 30 years of anger weep out of my eyes as the song below played away to me, a song I consider to best track ever recorded, but one that I skip on the old ipod when it comes on.
Shine A Light – Spiritualized (1992, Dedicated Records, Did Not Chart)
A little while after I wrote that I talked about going to see Spiritualized in Canterbury at the University, on the ‘Feel So Sad’ tour and the entry price was £2. I had a spare ticket and my dad said he’d come along with me and two mates, saying that the ‘new series of Casualty wasn’t very good anyway”. At that gig my dad stood at the bar and waxed lyrical to a bunch of students about why The Beatles were terrible and how they ‘needed to listen to a lot more music released by Motown Records between 1960 and 1969’.
On that night I bonded with my dad more than I ever had before. On the way home as my two mates slept in the back of the car, he told me about his love of Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett, The Rolling Stones, Marvin Gaye and weirdly Petula Clark and I can’t help myself,
Downtown – Petula Clark (1964 Pye Records, Number 2)
I’ve Been Loving You Too Long – Otis Redding (1965 Volt Records, Number 2 (in the USA))
Because they are belters that’s why.
It was Petula Clark that my dad insisted on listening to, when he was recovering from heart surgery a few years ago. To the point where I just arrived at the hospital in London after a three hour trip on a train from Devon and he wouldn’t speak to me until the song had finished ‘Never interrupt a man when he’s having a moment with Petula son’ he said afterwards in between mouthfuls of chocolate and tea that is.
Everyday’s a school day.
Which sort of brings me back to right now and the surreal situation the world finds itself in. As I type we are in week five of lockdown. My dad is 224 miles away from my house and I lie awake at night worrying about him. I phone him daily and when he can work out the video conference I get to see him. He tells me he is fine. He also tells me that he is staying in the house but I know he isn’t. My sister tells me that she literally bumped into him in the queue (the queue!) to go into Tescos the other day.
On the last video call I had with him (which was yesterday) after my daughter had shown him all the pictures she had drawn and we’d discussed the 1980 FA Cup final again (“Trevor Brooking finest hour, son”). I implore him to stay in – I even offer to arrange home delivered food for him. His reply is “Well don’t think I’m not grateful, boy, but they’d only get the wrong sort of cheese”.
The wrong sort of cheese.
Seriously the stubborn old bugger. “Besides I’ve got to walk the dog”.
Hang on, what dog. He doesn’t have a dog. Cue a bark from the background and this charming little yappy thing walks into view. He didn’t have that last week.
“Meet Petula” he says.
Now. My friend Aaron used to have a dog called Roy, which was, up until now the stupidest name for a dog I have ever heard. Petula. Sheesh.
“Oh, there is someone else you need to meet as well”. Oh god. He’s bought two of them I think, as a woman wanders into view.
“This is Marion”.
Well that explains the cushions on the sofa and the fresh flowers on the table. Marion is about twenty years younger than my dad and has a nice smile. She appears to be wearing a Manchester City Shirt though, which immediately makes me dislike her.
I don’t mean to be rude but why is there someone in your house that shouldn’t be. I ask him. Marion wanders out of view and you hear teacups tinkling in the background.
“She lives here has done for ooh, six weeks” he says.
Turns out she’s been hiding in the bedroom whilst we’ve been on the phone. You never thought to mention it I tell him. Silence.
“Been seeing her for about six months, realised that lockdown was going to come and asked her to move in for a bit see how we get on, bit of company of an evening.” I’m sure he winked at me then, I shudder away the thought that momentarily entered my head.
I can’t argue with his thinking, but my original question stands about him not mentioning it to me. Then he drops a clanger.
“We’re…” he starts then he coughs a bit, “… getting married. I asked her two days ago”.
Oh, is all I can think to say.