Tuesday, October 31, 2006

October 1988...

October 1988
30th October 1988 to be precise.
Sunday 30th October 1988 to be pedantic.
I became a dad for the first time.
Which means that yesterday she was 18.

30/10/88 - Having spent all night in the delivery suite at the LGI and then accompanying wife and new offspring onto the new deliveries ward where they both promptly fell asleep I took advantage of the nurses advice to go home and grab some sleep myself and emerged out of the main entrance of the Clarendon Wing to a gorgeous, crisp and frosty Sunday morning.

My car was still where I'd abandoned it in the "emergency vehicles only no parking zone" right in front of the main entrance, the chap in charge of parking at the Clarendon Wing was well used to first time fathers-to-be abandoning their vehicles anywhere and everywhere, sometimes with doors left wide open all night, sometimes with engines left running all night, and he'd kindly averted his eyes for 12 hours over my indescretion - he gave me a wave and a thumbs up as I drove out of the car park, the huge stupid grin on my face must have answered his unspoken question.

The drive home was sublime, a beautiful autumnal morning with a hint of winter on the way but with a glaring sun low in the sky, a perfect day, just a perfect day. And then later on that evening as I was leaving the hospital again, I was accosted by a parent and a group of small children dressed in hallow'een costume who were out "trick or treating" and the inextricable link between Amanda's birthday and hallow'een was first made.

And so yesterday, 18 short years on we took her to The Fox to buy her first legal alcoholic drink but for some reason it seemed to be me that was doing all the buying and not her and my dream of becoming an old fart sat in the corner of a pub who sends their offspring to the bar for them is in danger of never being fulfilled.

My how things have changed though.Her boyfriend bought her flowers and a very expensive dress that she'd spotted and tried on in one of the boutiques in the trendy designer zone of Leeds city centre, he'd gone back another day and bought it in her size, all on his own, how brave of him.

When I was his age Suzanne would have been lucky to get a bunch of flowers for her birthday, chocolates were more likely, chocolates were safe, you could always tell the shopkeeper that they were for you as long as you avoided the boxes with pink flowers and ribbons on the front.

Flowers were something different though, a lad could never buy flowers in a public place on his own, not living in a small north east pit village where everyone knew you and your business anyway. If I'd gone into the flower shop in Delaval the word would have been all around "the clerb" that night...

"Nooo hey, guess who ah saw coiming oot tha fluwah shop terday like, man"
"Whey gan on then, divvent keep it ter yersell"
"That big nancy boy from Yawkshire, yer knarr, Harry Jacksons sun-in-lor"
"Whey nivver man"
"Whey-aye, git big bunch o'roses he had, hiding them behind his back like"
"Whey tha big pufta"
"Aye tha big pufta, wait till he comes in here-yah man"

And so each year for her birthday Suzanne received a plain box of chocolates, no fancy wrapping, no ribbons and bows, sometimes if I really couldn't be arsed she just got a bar of Dairy Milk chocolate, she never received flowers from me and my reputation was never sullied in Delaval by stories of how much of a pufta I was - those sort of things were important in those days.

Amanda spent the rest of last night in various pubs with various friends of hers and arrived back home at half past midnight, judging by the difficulty she experienced in getting through the front door and the numerous attempts to lock it behind her, and the fact that she brought home a carrier bag with a bottle of wine in it that had been broken on the walk home, I'd guess that she was a tad tipsy after the birthday celebrations - but this monring she was up at 6.30am ready to face college and the world as an official adult without a trace of a hangover.

God I hate kids metabolism when they don't get the hangovers that I do.


Maine said...

You're such a puffa. I just feel you need to know that.

There's something sublime about being past that age where you can drink and drink and drink and wake up the next morning to little or no consequence:

You get to lord it up over your daughter when she finally gets there too. Enjoy.

Gary said...

I know, I'm a lightweight when it comes to booze, two pints will kill me overnight - spirits kill me when they touch my lips, its just not fair.

Carolyn said...

As for the flowers, have you ever used John's line, "I was going to buy you some flowers to show I love you but I didn't know what sort you'd like. So I didn't bother. But I thought about it, and it's the thought that counts, right?".


Gary said...

Flowers - pah!

Splash out on a £1.98 bunch from Asda and three days later they're dead.

Whats all that about then ?