So many things occupy my thoughts every day. So many trivial thoughts of moving money between accounts, getting the shopping done, paying the gardener, servicing the car, have I paid the deposit on whatever activity I’ve got coming up, I forgot to move that Hong Kong call to accommodate the trip to Paris, I hope Conrad doesn’t have croup again, not sure how to get a repeat prescription on the inhaler. Really must write back to that lovely email Daddy wrote to me.
And then, one day, Daddy was dead. Just like that. There was no more writing back to that email. No more things I wanted to do with him one day, a photo I wanted to send him, wanting to ask him what he thought of Ghost in the Shell.
I went to the sci-fi exhibition at the Barbican on the 14th June. I had forgotten to mention it to Daddy, but when I was there, I was excitedly thinking how much he would enjoy it. I took a picture of the rather cool space prism, and thought I would do a bit of editing and then send it to him when I found the time.
I looked at how long it was running for; maybe he could come over in September when he was better from his planned operation. I even spent some time on the 15th June looking up whether the tickets were still available. Of course I didn’t actually email him. I just thought about it, and was vaguely frustrated at the difficulty of writing any personal emails at work.
And then he was dead; no goodbyes, no apologies for all I haven’t done, no impressing upon him how little those lost tempers really mattered. There was only a bad news phone call, a lot of waiting around in an intensive care unit, a lot of shouting at doctors with all the empathy of a piece of plastic, and another phone call to say he had died, thankfully before he ever regained consciousness and before they amputated his legs.
Here I am, living my life, watching each day go by, sitting in the car and looking at the little strip of moss that grows in the crevice of the window frame. I am so happy to be alive, to be able to watch life pass me by. I look out at the English countryside he liked, but whose inhabitants he did not understand, and listening to Jimmy Cliff.
I can see clearly now, the rain is gone,
I can see all obstacles in my way
Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind
It’s gonna be a bright (bright), bright (bright)
We drove through meadows of sunflowers on a family holiday in the middle of France in 1992, with the same reggae mix tape playing in the car every day of our two weeks in some old gite. We were 14, he was 52, and he already seemed to feel that time was running out. He seemed so disillusioned with the real world of working with other people whose motives conform to no ideal, who have no overarching concept to their life other than extracting advantage from it. He could not understand how people did not exist, like him, in a world of ideas, in which money and food appear when required for the further elaboration of his thoughts.
He was so endearingly credulous that he was quite prepared to believe the people who said they needed him to send his passport details and several hundred pounds to confirm his winning lottery ticket; he asked me how this could be, given he had not bought a lottery ticket.
I have existed all this time thinking of nothing but money, and food. All my life, I have been worried about these things, about the precariousness of finances, and I have sat around in jobs that mean absolutely nothing to me, because the money was supposed to give me time to go and explore the world that my father showed me was there. The trip to the Himalayas, that he would have been excited about; travelling back to Australia again; that vague plan to go on holiday with him.
It would be nice if in real life the rain ever was gone, but it isn’t; you don’t see the obstacles until you have completely missed them.