My flat is too small for my father.
He is a guest so gets the only bedroom. I get the futon that seems to be made of rough chipboard with added concrete and I set up camp in the living room.
Each morning at 7:30 he is already awake and bored and ready to continue his holiday. My father has worse ADHD then a small child with a coke problem AND he is my father and wants constant companionship from whichever of his children is closest…….right now that would be me.
My dad is a big chap, over 6 foot and broad but his knees are a bit dodgy and he has a bit of a stagger so, what with me being visually impaired and this flat being rather tiny, we are both continuously crashing into each other and tripping over all the piles of clothes and books and plastic bags full of recently acquired stuff to take back to Zambia that now cover the living room floor (when I am not sleeping on it.)
Within two days I am haggard and looking and living like a bag lady, rummaging under chairs for spare socks and desperately, continually searching for lost earrings, keys, mobile phones, my notes for work and my sense of humour. My dad says he is worried that I am ‘letting myself go’ and suggests I let my brother’s beautiful Brazilian girlfriend, 18 years my junior, give me some fashion advice, then, without noticing I have gone puce and am trying not to howl, he sits himself down in the middle of the living room blocking all exits and starts watching reruns of Top Gear with the sound up so loud the ceiling vibrates.
When he gets bored we will go somewhere to feed on dodgy prawn masala then hit every pub on the way home for medicinal brandy.
I will lie, holding my stomach and groaning on the chip board futon until dawn and then at 7:30 we will begin all over again.
My Dad is one of the greatest intuitive doctors of his generation with an OBE and various other awards cluttering his sideboard to underline that very fact. He saves lives..all the blinking time. He is hopelessly over generous and although he has been working tirelessly for 40 years he is still easily taken in and his hospitality and gifts have been so constantly abused that he is nearly broke himself and certainly will have to carry on working well into his 70’s. He is a very good man but he is also irresponsible, sometimes cowardly, childish and needy. He confuses nobility with sanctimony and is scared of emotion and naked truth. I worry about him all the time.
He makes up puns so bad they can make your nose bleed. His humour is forever warped to the tune of the Goon Show circa 1958.
I think I am like him and I hate that. I think I am like him and I am deeply, deeply proud.
In other words…my dad is over for a visit..the flat is too small and I am losing my mind.
He is in London for a couple of days and I will try and find where I stashed my toothbrush and my only clean T-shirt. I think they may be under recycling bin in the corner……