I wrote earlier that I'd been on a long weekend with my father, his wife, my brother and his wife and child and my family. I also wrote that I wasn't really looking forward to the potential clash of cultures or the fact that I would be spending hours with the Boy trying to get him to sleep each day.
I am happy to report that it did not all go that way at all, but of course it wouldn't - I had prepared for the very worst! Still, it was a good four days away and there were many high points, and I feel the need to share and have an evening in which to do it (Tilly is out with some friends from London on a night clubbing - I have prepared the bucket). Although I have the stresses of a new year fast approaching, and the avoidance strategies that I seem totally committed to, I feel it would be remiss if I did not record the happier parts of my life from time to time, right?
Anyway, yes. The holiday. It was just outside the Lake District, a kind of Butlins for the middle class, and though the journey there was a little trying we settled down pretty quickly into a lovely little lodge in the woods. Our children quickly made the place their own, rushing about and shrieking, and then we took them to a park in the rain. They had loads of fun on the swings and rushing about on the wooden 'tree walk' style equipment - the rain doesn't really bother them, in fact the Boy rather likes it - and then we retired back to the lodge for evening meal. Around this time non-verbal Boy started asking for milk and it sounded close enough to his name for my father, Papa, that my father thought the Boy was referring to him. Bonding moment was had, Boy realised what he had done and the two became inseperable. The children went to bed around 7pm, the Boy taking just ten minutes to doze off, and then we played Fluxx and had Kronenberg 1664 together.
In the morning my brother's family and mine went swimming and much fun was had - though not a great deal of swimming was done. There's something about going out with children that inhibits my usual proclivities, but that wasn't a totally bad thing. My brother and I did some much needed aimless chatting and then we returned for lunch. It was our turn to provide a meal and so Tilly got on with the cooking (I'm not allowed to help these days, I'm a bad back-seat cook according to Tilly, I used to really enjoy it too) and I took the Boy on a wander. We met my mother's husband, who works there, for a bit by accident and played a bit on a playpark, we'd done that after swimming too to be fair and the daughter had made a friend, very sweet. We returned, ate, the children went to bed, again quite easily, and we played Martian Fluxx and drank the Sovereign beer I took to share. My father and brother were not fans of this, which was a shame, and my brother got shirty about this, so I'm told, I didn't notice. Looking over the conversation I think I can see elements of us both sharing the autism thing - certainly Tilly was of the opinion that we were very similar.
There was more swimming the following morning, after my father and I totally blagged a game of badminton or two. I enjoyed that. When my father left in 1994 I'm afraid I did not treat him very well and subjected him, on and off, to some of the worst vitriol a teenager can muster (a withdrawn and slightly crap teenager, but still...) for a long while. Our relationship was only defrosted, a little, at the end of my first relationship and was only really warmed when I met Tilly. It was good, therefore, to play him at badminton. Not only was he much better than I expected at the game he also thoroughly enjoyed it and didn't get all moody about who won and who lost - my biggest memory about playing sport with him and where I get my wholly unhealthy attitude to game playing from. I'd never played my father at badminton on his own like that before. It saddens me to think that the one sport I actually enjoy, and am capable of, playing I had never done with my father. It was good. I followed it with a swim, then we had cooked lunch from my brother and his wife. In the afternoon we took the children off to play on various playparks again and then returned for a short evening meal. Tilly, my brother's wife and my father's wife then went off to be pampered at the spa thing they had going.
My father, my brother and I were left holding the fort. Surprisingly it was my brother's child who stayed up and wouldn't sleep. My father then began telling us loads of stuff we'd never heard before. About his wife's health problems, about their unsuccessful try for children, about his own gay father. My grandfather on my father's side was gay in a time when it was illegal to be so and was one of those people who flaunted his sexuality. He would invite men home (my father's mother was working nights) and they would rarely be the same ones from one night to the next, but there were repeats. He'd pick them up at public loos, no joke. My father confirmed his homosexuality around the age of fifteen when searching for something else (I suspect evidence that his mother was having an affair with a Hungarian) and found a letter from someone in the Netherlands. It was a love letter and my father thought it was for his mother, but it turned out to be addressed to his father - penny dropped. Not long after that his father was to be prosecuted again, a third time, for picking up blokes and so was shipped off by his work to Oman - where he actually had an affair, not Saudi Arabia as I'd thought, with the Crown Prince - who isn't gay at all you understand. It was sobering stuff. There was a lot more to it, but I'm unclear how I'd write it here without supplying a great deal of back-story to make it all make sense. My father is very much like his father and I am very much like him. Let's put it that way. We drank some Cidre (Stella Artois) and then retired not long after the women returned.
The three men of the families went for a bike ride on the last day, my daughter quite literally in tow, and that was another 'bonding' experience. It was nice, only about fifteen minutes, but nice. We all agreed that we must repeat this holiday experience again, maybe make it a yearly thing.
So, yeah, happiness. I did not think of work, I did not think on my sexuality, I was... Well, not me but part of a group, you know, a group of family. A lot of what we did was immaterial, it felt right. It felt... nice. I was largely happy. Heh, for someone who prides himself on vocabulary it fails me somewhat when faced with good things. I think being in woods was part of it, no really, and away from traffic and the TV. Hearing birds, seeing wildlife, breathing dewy air, all of this was part of the happiness. At heart I'm a child of the trees and the leaves and the mud - I've always preferred outside to in - and so it felt like home.
You'll notice that there are no images, that's because I have no idea how I'd illustrate any of this. The words were hard enough, I don't think I've captured the positive nature of the whole affair very well. Still, positivity - looks like I'm still trying to work to that resolution!
Words of warning and welcome:
This is very much my blog, so don't be surprised if this doesn't follow accepted patterns and norms. It is a place where I can be anonymous and honest, and I appreciate that.
It will deal with many things and new readers would do well to check out the "Story So Far" Page above this and the "New Readers" tag down there on the right. Although there's nothing too bad in here there will be adult language, so be careful. If you think this needs a greater control, please let me know. Thank you!