BEING a father has changed massively over the years. How would I know? Because I used to have one. A father, not a child, that is.
Listening to people talk, parenting these days sounds a whole lot more complicated than it used to be — or maybe people just make it that way.
There is no way on Earth or any other planet my father would have home schooled me during the recent lockdown (largely because I’m 52) had it occurred during my childhood.
If he had I would have been thrown, even disappointed, because he had stepped out of his normal routine of work, tea, TV and working men’s club in the week, football and cricket (and more working men’s club) at the weekend.
When I got to about five-years-old he decided (or was told to by my mum) to take me to watch him play for the local team at football and cricket, which must have been really annoying for him. I wouldn’t have wanted to take me if I was him.
If it was winter I would be packed off in a big coat and with a flask of soup by my mum and would stand in the freezing cold, rain or snow watching him perform his role as a tough tackling left sided defender and in the summer I would sit alone — usually with a few pence to buy a packet of crisps and some pop — for five hours or so while he played cricket.
The best games were when I got taken to an away match. Partly because it was exciting to go somewhere I thought I hadn’t been before (likely to be a village less than five miles away from where we lived), but mostly because it involved a visit to the pub if I was lucky.
Back then a lot of pubs didn’t allow kids in — my mum has heard my story about being ejected from the Morris Dancers in Colne a fair few times — and I would be made to sit outside in the car, when we had one. I’ve no idea what I did when we didn’t.
Depending on when the game finished and the amount of time left before my dad had agreed to be home — plus an hour or two — this generally meant me sitting there and occasionally glancing towards the pub door in the hope he would emerge to either set off home or present me with some pop and crisps. A bottle of Coca Cola and a pack of cheese and onion, usually. He probably did this for every couple of rounds he had — it was before the days when anyone seriously bothered about drink driving.
These days some busybody would probably have reported him for negligence or something, but I quite enjoyed sitting there, waiting, thinking, with the promise of a drink and something to eat to come.
My mum, of course, took more of an active interest in my brother and I’s lives and developments than my father did.
If she hadn’t I wouldn’t have turned out like the well balanced individual I obviously am.