Monday 26 July 2010
This was the first days of five spent with my daughter. I don’t want that to sound as if I’m the Secretary of the local branch of Fathers4Justice – I see her every day – but it was just me and her and five days of precious father-daughter time to fill together.
She’d spent the previous week at Guide Camp with my the Good Lady Wife and this week it was my turn. Due to our lack of concurrency in our leave years and our daughter’s lengthy post-P1, pre-P2 sabbatical – when the teachers are doing their “marking” – we could only muster one whole week together as a family. That week is next week but more of that then.
If I had known at the start of the week how exhausting it was entertaining my own daughter for a five-stretch I wouldn’t have bothered. Okay, that’s not strictly true but I would certainly have factored in some lazy down time. As it was I’d booked something in for most days.
On Monday we took a trip up the coast of the Kingdom to a place I hadn’t visited since I was a child. (Okay, I’d dropped the girls off at swimming lessons once but that doesn’t really count). If memory serves me well, and it doesn’t usually unless it involves pop trivia, I hadn’t been to the sleepy hollow of Burntisland since I was a teenager. There’s an expanse of greenery behind the beach on which usually stands a fairground. It may be there all year round for all I know, such are the rarity of my visits to this neck of the woods.
The one abiding memory is the speedway bikes. Sure they were stationary and just went round and round and round but the thrill of the speed made it the most exciting experience of my young life. Living in Bonnyrigg, that wasn’t hard. I didn’t encounter any of the danger and devilment of The Smiths’ Rusholme Ruffians because our visits were all through the family orientated daylight hours. We may have gone to visit local relations, who I no longer speak to, or taken an organised trip with the local miners’ club but I’ve never forgotten those bikes.
My daughter and I walked along the path behind the beach and then through the tunnel into the park. The speedway bikes were of no interest to her as she headed straight for the swings. Part of me longed to see if the speedway bikes were still there but my daughter was engrossed in a chorus of “Higher Daddy! Higher”. I was also outvoted by my sensible other half as the predicted lunchtime rain appeared and we made a dash for the car. Maybe another time, although I wasn’t really sure I wanted to shatter one of my few magical childhood memories.
We took our walk after a healthy father and daughter swimming (but mostly mucking about) session at the Beacon Leisure Centre. Being the summer holidays, kids were allowed in free and adults paid £3.40. After a good bout of larking about and some daft games we were almost ready to leave when the large Total Wipeout-style inflatable was brought out into the main pool. It was a red and yellow and orange inflatable rag to a bullish bunch of kids. And some adults who really should’ve known better. What possesses a grown man to take a baby less than one year old on to this sort of thing is beyond me, although I suspect it only goes to confirm that this kind of “man” may be physically grown up and able to father a child but inside is still a child himself.
As we were really on our way out I limited her to three shots. I’m hard but fair and she seemed happy enough. The queues weren’t too deadly but three efforts at winning the Total Wipeout trophy were enough. Little did I know if we’d stayed in the pool another half hour or so we’d have had the flumes and wave machine too but that would’ve been too much, even for me.
After getting changed in the darkest cubicles I’d ever encountered – this is Fife not Alaska – we headed upstairs for a bit to eat. I can’t say I was that impressed with the fare on offer. There was the usual array of sandwiches and toasties (that’s a Panini to you townies) I plumped for a cheese and ham version of the latter. Not only was it undercooked – half the cheese hadn’t melted – but it had been cut into four triangles, with the crusts cut off. The crusts cut off! I’m sorry, but I’ve paid a pretty penny for those crusts and I should’ve received them still attached to my purchase. Grr…
My digestion wasn’t helped either but the sight of some seriously overweight kids, include a Grange Hill doppelgänger in the shape (and what a shape – like a stunt double for Barbapapa) of “Row-land”, right down to the glasses. Okay, so I’m no skinny malinky long legs myself but for a child to be in that state is just painful to see. Even a couple of the lifeguards (or whatever PC name they now have) gave looks of concern. How can anyone let their child get so overweight is beyond me? It isn’t killing with kindness, it’s sure sheer stupidity.
We got home exhausted. Well I was. My daughter was still full of beans. Flicking through the TV channels we found Dr Seuss’ Horton Hears A Who, a film I like but have never seen all the way through. This film will always have a special place in our household because it was the first film my daughter saw at the cinema. The main reason I haven’t seen the whole movie is that I usually fall asleep at some part of it through sheer exhaustion. Today was no different as I drifted in and out of chlorine-stenched conciousness.
The film finished just as we would need to leave for the local train station to pick up my wife from the train station after work. I had hoped to continue my “power nap” when I got home only to remember I was heading off to Leith FM to sit in on Ally Gourlay’s late night “Art School Dancing“ show on Leith FM. I wouldn’t be home until 1am!
Only four days to go…