The Dad Diaries Chapter 4: In which shirts are ironed but neither passion nor purpose are discovered

Thursday, 27th January, 2005

The news said it’s 60 years since the liberation of Auschwitz. One of those sobering “Lest we forget” moments.

It would seem disrespectful to write anything else today.

Friday, 28th January, 2005

I did the ironing. Not quite as momentous as yesterday’s anniversary, I grant you, but still, in its own way, remarkable. Why? Because it proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that I am not only Wise Middle-Aged Man but also distinctly New Man. He loves his kids (and frequently tells them so, especially in public – which they particularly appreciate although claiming to find it “embarrassing”); he’s as ready to push the vacuum cleaner as the lawnmower; and now, he can de-crease even “proper” shirts with a vengeance.

 

Monday, 31st January, 2005

Joe came round to give Sarah more maths tutoring. Allegedly. Spent 34 minutes figuring out how to casually walk through the dining room giving Joe a hard stare without Sarah spotting it.

Jack, on the other hand, asked me what I thought the purpose of life was and what the church was for. Such a joy to be able to teach one’s child the ways of the Lord. Or, at least, it would have been if I’d said anything that made the slightest bit of sense. After a couple of minutes Jack remembered he had to load some music onto his newly-arrived MP3 player.

Wednesday, 2nd February, 2005

New month! New ideas! Time to leave the January Blues behind! Rejoice! Enjoy life!

We’re thinking about going to see Les Miserables.

Friday, 4th February, 2005

It was the first session of the Finding Your Place in the Kingdom of Our Righteous God and Playing Your Part in the Spreading of His Glorious Gospel course at church. The topic was discovering your passion. Didn’t discover my passion, although the Garibaldi biscuits were a pleasant surprise.

What am I passionate about? What drives me? What gets me out of bed in the morning? Not sure that being quite keen on holidays in Cornwall is what they’re getting at.

Tuesday, 8th February, 2005

Sarah took part in Police cadet training in a local shopping centre, acting the part of a disrespectful rowdy youth. I know she’s keen on drama but she seemed to enjoy the chance to steal a police officer’s helmet whilst swearing just a little bit too much. I’ve just paid her bail. (Note to diary: that was a joke.)

Shrove Tuesday. Naturally we all had shroves. (Note to diary: another joke. I should do this for a living.)

 

The Dad Diaries are fictional. Probably.

 

 

 

 

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The Dad Diaries Chapter 3: In which an MP3 player fails to arrive and the gospel is preached

Monday, 17th January, 2005

Jack said he had a boring day at school. I said I’d had a boring day at work. Other family members didn’t comment on how boring (or otherwise) their day had been.

On the other hand, F. did report that a colleague at work had had their house vandalised. We were suitably appalled and prayed for fire to rain down from heaven and consume the culprits. (Although we also requested that the fire would be at a safe distance from the house, in order to prevent further damage.)

Tuesday, 18th January, 2005

Jack was crestfallen when the postman again failed to deliver his eagerly-awaited MP3 player from eBay. F. is also waiting for an MP3 player from eBay, but being an adult her degree of crestfallen-ness was naturally much lower.

We attended a church house group where the “ice-breaker” consisted of sharing your opinions of President George W. Bush. The main opinion we came away with was that as an exercise in sharing something about yourself and learning something about others it was an unmitigated failure.

Wednesday, 19th January, 2005

I announced to the family that since it’s now post-Christmas we are officially allowed to discuss where we want to go on holiday this year. We need to get our skates on, given that we only have 7 months to decide.

Saturday, 22nd January, 2005

It’s cold. I have a headache. And I worked until lunchtime. On. A. Saturday.

On the other hand, we had F.’s parents round for chippy takeaway and games of Uno and Pass The Pigs. Both exceedingly fine games of skill, judgement and strategy. (When I win. If I lose, it’s just down to luck.)

opplanet-encross-wave-x-wv-430c-512mb-digital-audio-mp3-player-wv430cF.’s MP3 player arrived, much to the dismay of a by now extra-crestfallen Jack, who remains MP3 player-less and must console himself with old-fashioned CDs or humming to himself.

Monday, 24th January, 2005

Sarah had her TB jab. It hurt. She was consoled by our visit to the Town Hall to see Jesus Christ Superstar, featuring, it seems, one of her teachers.

For some sound educational reason Jack has to find pictures of a rhino’s back on the Internet. He’s drawn a picture of a boy crying uncontrollably. I think it’s the MP3 player thing.

Tuesday, 25th January, 2005

Met Dave Morrison near Morrison’s (co-incidence or what?). He didn’t remember me so I had to remind him we met at the German evening class two years ago. He then told me about various health and financial troubles he had. Moved by the Spirit, I told him Jesus cared about all that stuff and wants him to get right with God. Dave said he really needed to pop in for some salt and a tin of peaches.

 

The Dad Diaries are fictional. Probably.

The Dad Diaries Chapter 2: In which a storm is weathered and pipe-smoking is rejected

Saturday, 8th January, 2005

Fierce winter storm last night. So bad I had to tie the barbecue cover back on.

Monday, 10th January, 2005

We now have three decorative stone heads in the back garden. Kind of Easter Island-ish but significantly smaller. Jack suggested they constitute pagan idols and will entice demons into the garden. I said I didn’t think Green Lane Garden Centre sold pagan idols.

Said an extra prayer for protection over the garden before going to bed.

Tuesday, 11th January, 2005

My American niece Anne-Louise is 21 today. I have an officially grown-up niece. This presumably makes me officially middle-aged and full of wisdom. Perhaps a pipe would underline my maturity and vast life experience. Not to smoke, naturally (I’m far too wise for that): just to suck on as I contemplate some conundrum troubling one of the young people.

Of course, had Anne-Louise been British she would have been officially grown-up three years ago and I would have been officially middle-aged in 2002.

Wednesday, 12th January, 2005

There was great excitement when I announced we were going to see Daniel Bedingfield in concert. I really am quite hip for a middle-aged bloke with pipe-sucking aspirations.

Thursday, 13th January, 2005

At Sarah’s parents’ evening we finally got some explanation of the convoluted grading system on her report. Something about a mark for the last test, a projected grade based on current performance, a second projected grade based on the student’s real potential if they just decided to work a bit, and a third projected grade based on a combination of local education authority demographic averages, last year’s median grade and what mood the teacher was in.

The net result was that while she’s a delightful person (gets it from her parents) and doing well in most subjects, she’s doing less delightfully in maths. Jack offered to help her out, being “well good” at maths despite being younger than Sarah. Sarah thanked him and I think suggested he go boil his head, but I couldn’t be sure.

Friday, 14th January, 2005

Sarah helped at the church’s Kidz Klub (that’s a deliberate, cool, mis-spelling, incidentally) and afterwards got some maths help from Joe, a university student who, she explained with a disdainful glance at her brother, “really knows what he’s talking about”.

If necessary I will notify Joe that I’ll be monitoring Sarah’s enthusiasm for maths.

Saturday, 15th January, 2005

Sarah did extra maths homework. Jack played on his PS2 and bought himself both a new ink pen and a new calculator battery. I cleaned our bedroom and both bathrooms. F. cooked us a Saturday tea worthy of Sunday lunch, followed by cookies & cream pie. After dinner we all laid on the dining room floor looking at the ceiling and just talking for three quarters of an hour.

Sometimes a family Saturday just goes well and leaves one deeply grateful.

Stubbed my toe at the bottom of the stairs on the way up to bed.

 

The Dad Diaries are fictional. Probably.

 

 

 

The Dad Diaries Chapter 1: In which 2005 arrives and a card is not sent to the Emperor of Japan

Thursday, 23rd December, 2004

My diary helpfully tells me it’s the Emperor’s birthday in Japan. If I’d realised sooner I could have sent a card. The shops have been full of Christmas cards for weeks so I probably missed the Japanese Emperor birthday card section.

More importantly, it’s Christmas Eve-Eve! Jack came back from the market with four new Santa hats to replace our rag-tag, scruffy collection. He’s a thoughtful son. We will of course now have to wear them for the next week.

Wednesday, 29th December, 2004

Bought a new pair of trainers and the ABBA Gold CD. They are so underrated (ABBA, not the trainers). Can’t believe it’s 30 years since Waterloo. Can’t believe I’m old enough to say it’s 30 years since anything. Well, obviously, I’ve always been able to say that; it’s just that now I can say it for events for which I was present, well, not present (since I wasn’t actually at the 1974 Eurovision Song Contest – although I could have been, it being held in Brighton and all) but, you know, alive at the time of the event which is now 30 (or whatever) years ago.

Friday, 31st December, 2004

Decided I will not wax philosophical about another year drawing to a close, where does the time go and all the rest. Instead, reminded Jack and Sarah that, once again, they’re in danger of failing to write their thank-you letters before the end of the year in which their Christmas gifts were received. Once again they argued that it doesn’t matter, that it’s not even a week since the said gift receiving and that if Christmas was in August it would be different. And besides (they continued), it’s holidays from writing and stuff (everything’s “and stuff” with them these days). I then reminded them that while they may not set great store by a £5 Boots gift voucher (which we will inevitably end up swapping for cash because they don’t want anything from Boots), Aunty Muriel and Uncle Norman were very kind to think of them at all and that ingratitude is just downright rude.

They adopted suitably penetant expressions and asked if they could do it after Friends.

Sunday, 2nd January, 2005

Played squash with F. but was rubbish.

Christmas wasn’t cancelled after all

Monday, 3rd January, 2005

Took the Christmas stuff down despite it being only ninth night. It now consists of six boxes and a bag. Reminds me of that episode of The Good Life where Margot declares Christmas as cancelled “because it couldn’t be delivered”. After all, we all know you don’t need tinsel and chocolate Santas hanging on an artificial tree to celebrate the birth of Christ. Although sherry and re-runs of Morecambe and Wise always help.

Wednesday, 5th January, 2005

Sarah and Jack finally wrote their thank-you letters. I suppose it’s because they’re back at school and are allowed to do “writing and stuff” once more.

The Dad Diaries are fictional. Probably.