Wednesday, February 04, 2004

I finally got around to tooling around with the settings on this 'ere Blogger and reset the times to GMT + 1 which means that my blog and I are now in perfect chronological synchronisation and I must admit, it's all a tad upsetting.

Whereas before, I could look at the times of my postings in Standard Eastern or whatever it is you Blogger boffins use as the default and remain blissfully unaware of how it related to my real time, I am now forced to confront some rather unpalatable truths concerning what may loosely be described as my lifestyle.

It is a little disconcerting to realise that any daytime post from Tuesday through Thursday indicates that I am not where I am contractually obliged to be. Actually, that's not entirely true...if all the executives at the company where I teach are otherwise engaged, then why should I hang around when I could be blogging? Particularly when I negotiated a clause in my contract which guarantees me a minimum 8 hour daily payment regardless of actual teaching hours. Which sets me to wondering if there's an 'insufferably smug' emoticon I could use at this point.

Daytime posts on Monday or Friday indicate that Burns' wee observation, 'The best laid plans of mice and men gang oft agly.' has stood up to the rigours of practical testing and proved to be pretty damned accurate and on the ball. These are the days I set aside for acclimatising myself to the digital age by working from home. That the work in question is marking examination scripts and is thus, strictly analogue is neither here nor there and I hope you feel ashamed of yourselves for being so finickerty.

It is also quite a revelation to realise that the posts which have caused me the most pleasure on re-reading have been those conceived in the wee small hours of Friday and Saturday, or to be more accurate, Saturday and Sunday. As you are by now no doubt aware, it is a rare occasion indeed that I enter the witching hour without having first availed myself of industrial quantities of Malt and Stella chasers and you may, therefore, share my bemusement at the fact that while Shelley and Coleridge's muse was enticed out of her shell by laudanum, mine seems to need kick starting with Laphroaig, Stella and Drum cigarette tobacco. And no, now would not be a good time to remind me of my father's maxim that, "You only get out what you put in."

What struck me most of all however, was the fact that almost all the timings of my posts can be explained by the quite simple fact that I am a father. All posts not succeptible to this simple explanation can be ascribed to the fact that I have turned a deaf ear to the pleas of the Hungarian edition of the Goddess Rampo and resolved to indeed 'sit in front of that fucking computer all sodding night.' This, you will understand, is a very free translation. The Hungarian version is much more colourful.

I have a three and a half year old daughter whose very existence prevents me from blogging from the time at which she arrives home from nursery school, gymnastics or music school until such time as she lays her sweet head to rest of an evening. I'm sure that when she is older she will realise just how abjectly selfish and wanton was her behaviour but, until such time, it will remain my lot to be pressed into service to best fulfill my parental obligations.

I seem to have drifted into fatherhood in the same way I drifted into cohabitation. No sooner had I teased open her little oyster, or so it seemed, than I was handing over morning coffee making duties and other associated services to a Hungarian, and admittedly infinitely more curvaceous, equivalent of a personal gentleman's gentleman and having to invent acceptable explanations to the inquiry, "Where have you been until this time?" Thing is, I don't recall ever inviting her to see how long it would take to leave her corporeal imprint on one side of my mattress. Actually, thinking about it, it was probably a shrewd and ruthless move on her part as I was seeing (and touching and exploring) two other lovely ladies at the time of our meeting.

Anyway, seven years passed...we survived several, shall we say indiscretions on my part (examples of sexual incontinence would be more accurate) and, although I loved her dearly, it was with a slacker's 'whatever' that I greeted her announcement that she was not going to chemically suppress her hormones any longer and attempt to achieve conception before her biological meter entered the red zone, as it were. She is my junior by ten and a half years, by the way.

Eight months later and I was watching the gentle swell of her belly and entertaining the first thoughts about how it would feel to be a father. When the swell became a distend and I was singing into the womb, "Wakey, wakey! Time to wake up and kick your mummy!", I was still no nearer an answer.

When I cut the umbilical, held her in my arms and showered her with salty tears, I was not convinced that my reaction was not more due to the indescribable wonder of the occasion rather than the first burgeoning feelings of fatherhood. I always thought it would happen automatically...that as soon as she was born, I would feel somehow different...more grown up...more responsible...more...more like a father.

Mmmmm. She was a week old when we took her to her first motorcycle rally and I went bungee-jumping for the first time. Ten days and she was in a vineyard watching her old man get deliciously inebriated. Two weeks and she got to see me on stage percussing away in St Vitus mode. Less than a year and we load her into the car for a 2000 km trip to Blighty.

And I'm still waiting. Waiting for that fresh trout slap upside the head that will tell me how to feel. I really did expect it to be changing and bottom-kickingly obvious but it hasn't been like that at all. Men are not mothers. At least this one isn't anyway. Zsuzsi seemed to change overnight...she was with me on not letting Lorna disrupt our lives and stop us from doing whatever it is we wanted to...we decided to take her everywhere with us (invite us, the frog comes too) and Lorna has certainly benefitted from this but Zsuzsi's first thoughts are always with her daughter and I don't think mine are.

With me it seems more gradual, more occasional. I'll sometimes go to sleep with her in our bed and be totally overcome with just how wonderful she is and have to explain to her that tears aren't always of sadness.

It hit me when I went to pick her up from Nursery School one day and her face lit up, she came running towards me, greeted me with a cry of "Mummy!" and jumped into my arms. We got half way down the stairs and she decided she had to go back, give one of the boys a hug and promise him that she'd bring him a present on his birthday.

It's Carnival here at the moment and as Zsuzsi is a music teacher and organises a weekly class for nursery school kids and as she was compering a Carnival concert at our local theatre she got all the kids to sing and dance on the stage of our town's theatre last week. All of them dressed as rabbits...word perfect and all in synch. Would that I had an URL...I'd show you the pictures. Lorna on stage and me crying my eyes out. She escaped from my lap later that same evening, ran onto the stage where her mum was introducing the next act, grabbed the microphone, said, "I've come because I just wanted to tell you that I love you, mummy." and brought the house down.

So, maybe it's happening...slowly but slowly that perhaps I am unaware of the change. All I know do anything to harm my daughter and I will snap your neck as if it were a twig.

No comments: