“Push me higher Daddy” I screamed, delighted for myself. It was Christmas Day and my dad had taken my baby brother and me to Battersea Park as a treat before dinner. We lived above a pub, Mum and Dad were managers , they had just closed the pub for the day, so whilst mum was putting the finishing touches to the dinner, Dad had taken my brother and I , out from under her feet. “Come on princess, see if you can touch the clouds,” he laughed, whilst I was swinging higher and higher. We seemed to be in a world of our own, until a loud roar from my brother, kicked us back into reality.
Daddy, my knee hurts! My brother cried, blood gaping from the wound where he had scraped his knee along the ground. Dad ran over to him, and cleaned his knee, then tied his handkerchief around it to make a little bandage for him. I was disappointed as we headed home, each of us holding one of my dads’ large hands as he stood over us like a big giant. “Don’t worry Princess” he said,” We will have plenty more days in the park, lets hurry back and see what Santa has left you” My Dad was the typical publican that you would imagine behind the bar. He is a big broad man, with a big beer belly to match.
I have watched over the years as his black hair has turned grey, and the few strands left covering his bald patch have diminished and are now like silver threads on a spiders web. No matter how busy the bar was, Dad always had time for me, his little princess. I was always bothering him, with questions about this and that, and he used to answer, always with a laugh, “My, you are going to be so clever, with all these answers swirling around in that little head of yours” He seemed to have a joke for every occasion and was always laughing with the customers.
I can remember our summer holidays as a child. Dad and I loved the sea and were always racing out to see who could get there first. Over the years as I learnt to be a stronger swimmer, no matter how far out I was, Dad was never too far away from me to make sure I was safe. Therefore, my childhood was happy, and I got on well in school, but as I hit my teens, the rebel inside me kicked in like a powerful motorbike.
“No, you can’t come in at eleven! “Mum shouted at me. I had been invited to a party and wanted to impress my friends by staying out late. I skulked off to ask my Dad. Mum says I can stay out until eleven, just to let you know” I lied to him. “That’s ok, princess, as long as your mum is happy” he replied giving me a hug “have a good time” As I came in that night, I could hear Mum and dad arguing; Mum angry that Dad had taken my side against her. The next morning, all was quiet in the kitchen as I sat down to breakfast.
You could have cut the atmosphere with a knife. It was all because of me. “Princess, your hair looks lovely today, always keep it long, it really suits you” Dad said to me, I smiled “yeah thanks Dad” I smiled back But I don’t want you ever to lie to me again, you listen to your mum from now on, you hear” he retorted back. I was dumbstruck. “Yeah, ok, whatever” I said as I got up from the table and slammed my way out of the room.
`I will show him` I thought. So that morning off I headed into the hairdressers along the road. “Can you cut it really short for me please? ” I told the stylist. Off it came, falling silently onto the floor as silently as the tears sliding down my cheeks. My teenage rebel days carried on, with me just drifting in and out of home as it suited me, not passing the time of day to anyone, in my own little world.
I could see the look of disappointment in my dads’ eyes, like dark shadows following you on a gloomy wet evening. Life went on and I turned 17, landed myself a good job in a bank, and decided to move out and get a place of my own. I wanted to be independent, and no longer Daddy’s little girl. My career went well, much to my dads delight, we were even getting on again. I was pleased to see a tear in his eye on the day I got married and he walked me down the aisle. Now I am a mother, and when I bring my children to see their granddad. I get a little lump in my throat as I hear my Dad say to my daughter.