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Yea though I walk in the valley of disco

  Fri 14th November 2014

I was down the pub -- back to sobriety after a one day leave to meet Sally -- and bumped into someone I know who had a heart attack last week. He's much better to talk to now that he's been close to death, but his improved conversation wasn't enough to varnish over the boredom of being in a pub and not drinking, so I wandered off after an hour.

Back home, Trina sent me a text which irritated me. Intended to sympathise with what she sees as the lack of success in my date, she "commiserated", hoping that I was not too "down about things."

"Of course not. What's there to be disappointed about? Oooh you do take such a negative view of everything. I met a nice girl in a cracking pub in a great city. What does it matter if we don't get hopelessly in love in ten minutes? It's the experience that matters, not the outcome. Anyway, get your knickers ironed for Friday!" (We're going out dancing tonight.)

Back home, my sister rings. She sniffly and hesitant. "It's about Dad." The hospital rang my mum at 7pm saying that he'd taken a turn for the worse and he was dead by the time she got there twenty minutes later.

My gut instinct was to get on the train to Middlesbrough, but speaking to my Mum this morning, she said that it's OK -- people can come up for the funeral. She's quite resilient and she's got her God Squad around her who will help her with the practical things. I hope that after a while, it might lead to a new lease of life for her.

My brother has asked me, as the eldest, to do a short oration at the funeral. I will have to put some work into that. My Dad was a difficult person to get to know, one of the most boring people I've ever met, with hardly any friends or social life, someone who didn't talk about himself; but generous and well-meaning despite his social handicaps, wanting to be included without offering much that would make people interested in doing that. I won't say that at the funeral though.

I rang Kirsty this morning to tell her. "I wasn't that close to my Dad," I said. "No. Everyone says that."


Dancing on in the valley of death, tonight's do in Morecambe is in aid of a recently deceased DJ who played disco and jazz-funk when it wasn't that common. It was originally going to be just me and a former work colleague from Bloom and Doom, who has gorgeous T-shirted tits and a hard, tattooed husband, but Trina invited herself along too.

I was annoyed at the imposition at first, but after some reflection, I realised that it might be a good idea to put them two together. They'll occupy each other with a limitlessly detailed recitation of their recent lives, a conversation (without the "con" element), of iterated half-sentences of one-word changes to comma'd accounts of what is happening in the lives of their children. This will take so long that I should free to get on and dance and chat with the other people I'll know who'll be there. They're the female equivalent of the men that Jeanette Winterson describes in Sexing The Cherry. (From memory) "All you have to do with men, is set them down, get them going with drink, and let them unravel their energy."

13 comments

Comment from: smallbeds [Visitor]

I appreciate you didn’t get on with your dad, but I’m still sorry for your loss.

Heaven knows I would never socialize with my own father by choice, but even before we managed to make a better fist of our relationship, after his heart attack over ten years ago, it would still have been a soul-ache had I lost him back then. You might find it hits you later.

I think there’s still a lot you can say about someone like that after their passing. And if it’s an open secret that you didn’t get on with him then people might help you out with stories and the like.

Now go out and dance.

Fri 14th November 2014 @ 18:49
Comment from: gossamer beynon [Visitor]

Oh I’m sorry about your dad too. Let’s hope though that your mum does indeed get a new lease of life, I’ve seen that happen a few times with older relatives of mine who have lost a partner they’d stuck with often because it was the done thing and easier than any alternative.

Funnily enough I was dancing last night too, albeit in my front room, hope you had fun !

( your description of Trina and work colleague in conversation is very hmm, acerbic, but it made me laugh. I know too many people like that ! )

Sat 15th November 2014 @ 15:41
Comment from: Suzy Southwold [Visitor]

Ooh - close or not, losing a parent is a milestone. I remember you taking about your Dad at M***** food festival, saying how hard you found it to connect with a man who didn’t really TALK, just said things. I’m paraphrasing there.

You’ll be alright doing the eulogy though; you’re a born bullshitter. If you weren’t you’d be in jail by now ;)

X

Sat 15th November 2014 @ 18:58
Comment from: [Member]

Thanks everyone – and to Crinklybee for his comment which got kicked out by the site for some reason.

It hasn’t hit me yet – and I’m interested to find out in what way it will later on. The main thing at the moment is making sure my Mum’s OK.

The wake will be a teetotal one so me and Kirsty are planing a post-wake in the pub where we can drink talk a bit more freely. Not to slag the man off, because he wasn’t a morally bad man, and did the best for us under very difficult circumstances. Even there though, I won’t have a great deal to say, because I just didn’t ever get to know the man.

His own Dad, when my gran died, scarpered off to Torquay to shack up with an old bird and had a great final decade. I hope my mum will at least see her family – both in Lancaster and Sussex – for occasions other than funerals.

Your last sentence Suzy – it’s true!

Sun 16th November 2014 @ 12:53

I’m sorry your loss. Social handicaps or not, he was your Da and that’s rough news. All good wishes to your family.

I wasn’t close to my dad, either. I didn’t even attend his funeral. Everyone said I’d regret it one day but so far I haven’t. Still waiting for the remorse that, apparently, everyone else feels on my behalf.

You were unnecessarily harsh with Trina. She meant well, although your assessment of the evening is correct. And healthy, I might add.

Sun 16th November 2014 @ 14:33
Comment from: [Member]

Thank you. If we ever meet I’d be interested to know about how the rest of your family reacted to you not turning up to your Dad’s funeral. I also don’t want people to have proxy feelings for me. It’s a form of social control and an reflects an unwillingness to accept that people feel differently about things.

I was harsh with Trina, and apologised. In a draft of this post, the paragraph about ringing Kirsty continues “I then texted Trina. ‘I’m sorry about jumping down your throat in that email last night. You were only trying to be nice’.”

Sun 16th November 2014 @ 15:09
Comment from: PendleWitch [Visitor]

Can I add my condolences, although I didn’t really grieve much for my dad either, silly old sod that he was. It’s good to read your post and the comments and see that I’m not the only one. It took a while though before I stopped feeling a jolt when I saw something in the paper or on the telly and thought “ooh, must tell Dad that” and then realised I couldn’t.

Hope your mum’s still OK.

Sun 16th November 2014 @ 21:37
Comment from: [Member]

Thanks PW. I never told my Dad anything. Never went out with him, never told him anything about my life. To suggest going out together, or to have told him about anything about what I’d done in my day, would have forced him into a situation he’d have found frightening, not knowing how to respond.

Sun 16th November 2014 @ 21:46
Comment from: [Member]

Even if we don’t like our parents, it’s at the very least weird when they are no longer “there". When Dad died, the eulogy i delivered was fire and brimstone! i was COMPELLED to tell his story. When Mom died a few months back it was a performance… i didn’t lie, and chose my words carefully, but it had an element of ‘bullshit’ to it that i don’t regret… It was for the benefit of others, not me. i delivered… and had a drink afterwards.

Hoping to hear that your Mum moves on, finds a new lease on life, and gets some joy along the way…

Tue 18th November 2014 @ 02:50
Comment from: Jo [Visitor]

Sorry for your loss. I wasn’t close to my father either when he died and that made getting through the funeral quite a tiring process. I hope that it will be easier for you.

As for Trina, she needs to find a bit of self-respect. Her behaviour is forcing you into a position of treating her harshly.

Tue 18th November 2014 @ 09:00
Comment from: [Member]

Hello Daisy and Jo

Yes – I can’t say I’m looking forward to what will be a looney tunes religious service, then all into cars to the crematorium, then back to the House of God for drink-free “nibbles". But I’ll say what I can in as generous a mode as possible.

Trina’s a lost cause. But she has her uses (not sexual any more though).

Tue 18th November 2014 @ 09:29
Comment from: furtheron [Visitor]

Sorry to hear about your loss.

If my Dad had died a year earlier I’d have said similar to you that I wasn’t close to him. I had the advantage of being the youngest of his offspring. This meant that I was the only one still at home when Dad retired (technically he retired early - truth is after 42 years in a job he loved and that frankly defined him as a useful human being Mrs Thatcher (bitch!) and John Nott unceremoniously kicked him and 10,000 other poor buggers on the scrap heap and made my home town suffer 25 years of deprivation). His enforced unemployment coincided with a chunk of my last year at college and whilst I listened to ELP, Zep, Rush et al on my stereo in my room and desperately tried to revise enough to get my HND in Computer Studies I actually got to know Dad a fair bit.

Sadder then that just as I got to begin to know him and even admire him a bit a heart attack a couple of days after a hip replacement op that would have given him a new lease of life took him away.

Wed 19th November 2014 @ 16:21
Comment from: [Member]

Bugger – so you were just getting to know him when he pegged it. Terrible timing these deaths!

Why do people still vote Tory after what they’ve done? We’ve got a Tory MP here. No idea why.

Thu 20th November 2014 @ 22:57


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