To wrap up our series of Fathers Week posts we have the wonderful Urban Daddy who has started to notice a few familiar family traits appearing in his personality…
He’s in me somewhere. Grumbling one minute, laughing the next.
Always full of advice (unsought, but given nonetheless). He’s been hovering about in my subconscious all my life. And these days I seem to bump into him more and more.
‘He’ is my dad. And, more and more, he is me.
If self-awareness is the point where perception catches up with events, I started turning into my dad one rainy night in October 2010, when I stopped a fellow cyclist outside Earlsfield station and advised him on how to ride more safely (well he had just ridden up the inside of a left-turning bus). There were no sarky comments, no malice: just genuine concern, delivered a little too readily. And my words could have come straight out of my Dad’s mouth.
(I admitted as much to the man afterwards, as the silence was getting awkward).
Now, there’s just no hiding from how similar I am to my old man. There’s the obvious physical stuff; similar build, same chin, same hairline (never mind) but it’s the words, ways and mannerisms that intrigue me.
I’ve clearly borrowed some behaviour from him too.
His creative drive
His way with words
His ability to hold a tune
His haphazard social planning
His propensity to get quite cross at the TV when Newsnight is on
His urge to offer unsolicited advice to complete strangers
I shouldn’t be surprised when my inner dad surfaces, but I am.
Once upon a time, every conversation I had with my dad contained a potential loggerhead. It was no different to any other parent – teen relationship and all, frankly, a very long time ago. Still, for a time I carried a residual understanding of myself as being in opposition to him, an antagonism that could surely only be down to our overwhelming difference.
Or so I thought at the time. As it turns out, what friction there was between us was down to our being way too similar, like atoms trying to inhabit the same space.
These days, antagonism is long gone. We get together. He laughs at me as I try to control the children. We’ll bark in tandem as Paxman or Wark grill their guests. I sometimes even ask him for advice. But mostly, I watch my eldest play with her granddad. I see that parts of her personality reflect his personality. And I recognise them well – because I share them too