Thursday, 24 March 2011

Sin... the old fart

He was not your usual boring old fart. I wish he had been though. I wish he was an old duffer that wore chequered slippers and smoked a pipe, staring from under his flat cap as he watched the world drift by.

But he wasn't. He liked a laugh. He liked to wear bright clothes, especially on dark days. Sometimes you'd almost need sunglasses on. And his smile matched the 200 watt wardrobe he insisted on wearing. Brighter than those houses who have Santas and snowmen and reindeer adorning the walls and garden every Christmas, so much so you can hardly see the bricks or grass. The ones where they can probably be seen from space and have the wheel or dial spinning frantically on the electric meter as the units are burned up at a breathtaking rate.

He was sunshine on a rainy day and as in your face as a Tango advert. Whether you liked it or not, he was a whirlwind of colour and clarity and calamity. Some days you wanted a bit of grey. Some days you felt like dipping down a mood and chilling. Some days he was so bouncy he would have put Tigger to shame. And some days you just wanted to slap him in the face and tell him to TAKE IT DOWN A PEG!

And he would.

For a second.

Then the spring inside him would coil almost to breaking point and he'd be off, with three times the energy threatening to blow him apart and cover you with effervescent coloured pieces of him.

And he insisted on being called Daniel. Never Grandad. Not Pops, Gramps or even Mr. Matthews. Always Daniel. That was weird. Calling your grandparent by their first name seemed unnatural, like it was disrespectful. Of course in these days where respect is dead, buried and decomposing nicely, that's probably not such a big deal. But it always was for me. Hence, I'd always be being corrected. I like Grandad, he preferred Daniel. Not Dan, though. For all his flamboyance, he still had standards. So Daniel it was.

Like father, like son was a phrase that was never further from the truth. Daniel Sr., to give him his favoured name, was as generous and kind as his demeanour suggested. Daniel Jr., who was actually called Paul but was known as Dad, was a toss of a coin different. Daniel's Heads to Dad's Tails. How does that happen? How does one take all the decent genes from his progeny? How does the son get the blunt end of the Niceness stick?

Maybe it's like blue eyes. They skip a generation.

For every bright colour Daniel was, Dad was a dark. Black to red. Grey to orange. Brown - the mucky brown that looks like your cat has left you a message - to yellow. For every smile that Daniel beamed, Dad had a grimace that slapped the happy look from your face. For everything Daniel gave, Dad took.

Granted, even though I see myself as a nice guy, the fact that people have died because of me probably means I'm not, but I have all of the very best intentions. I intend to be decent. I intend to be 'good'. And, in the majority of cases, my intentions win through, carrying the baton of my nicety across the line to break the tape and take the trophy. The times that it doesn't happen, that my intentions are squashed by Life's great big fly swatter... well, I can't help that. But he could. Dad could have tried to be a proper father. He could have made the attempt to show his son and daughter what a real dad was supposed to be.

But he didn't.

Maybe he couldn't. Like I can't ice skate backwards. And I can't leap tall buildings in a single bound. Maybe dad was incapable of showing any feelings other than disdain, digust and disinterest. Maybe he couldn't help it, like I can't help the things I do - the deaths, the pain, the horrors.

But at least I tried. At least I sought help. At least I shacked up with the devil - a devil in the disguise of Dr Connors - to try and purge the beasts from within me. Dad didn't. He embraced them. He paid them dues and subscribed to their newsletter.

And I, along with my sister, suffered the consequences.

Parents, eh? Gotta love em.

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