Me and my big brother have put up with a great deal over the years from Davies Senior. And the really annoying thing is, we seem to be the only ones who see what he is really like – like the little boy in the Emperor’s new clothes we’re pointing and shouting but this time no one is taking any notice.
Other people over the decades have said ‘your dad is all right’. Or ‘he’s a good laugh’. Little do they know the full extent of dad’s behaviour. Or misbehaviour. It’s become the subject of a little back and forth between me and big brother because we are so exasperated by things he has said and done.
Of course I won’t air all our family’s dirty linen in public. Let’s just say that we’re in constant contact because what he says to one son doesn’t quite tally with what he says to the other.
In recent years he has become unsteady on his feet and is prone to a fall or two. Once he was pinned under the fridge/freezer for two days because he pulled the thing down on himself and we had to get the ambulance and fire brigade to break in and rescue him.
Of course, we insisted he carry his mobile with him at all times in case of such a problem but no, dad knows best. He insists he can get to the phone.
We’ve talked to social services about getting people to go round and visit. Maybe help him tidy up, make him a cup of tea, have a chin wag. Every time he has fired whoever has turned up or hidden from them.
A key-safe was installed so that if the worst should happen an ambulance driver could get to him in an emergency. Dad, in his infinite wisdom, removed the keys from the safe because ‘too many people know the number’.
(One time he fell I had to order him quite harshly to crawl to the door and unlock it so that the ambulance crew could get in.)
He moans that no one comes to visit him. There is a reason. He has alienated all his friends and most of his family. He refuses to speak to them.
For the last few years he has been in and out of hospital more times than the doctors and refuses to see there is a problem.
His last visit was to a halfway house where he stayed for two and a half weeks. He complained that it was full of old people and no one talked to him. (I talked to the nurse and she told me that he refused to talk to anyone else or even get involved in any of the activities that were taking place.)
Once again dad signed himself out and wanted to go home, explaining that he could look after himself and would walk home if they didn’t let him out.
All well and good, but me and big brother know that in a few days the phone calls would start again. And they did.
Since I live in London and my brother lives near dad, he bears the brunt of all this. I get the phone calls at stupid o’clock while my brother has to constantly put his life on hold because dad needs some shopping or can’t charge his phone or needs someone to help him off the settee or accuse us of stealing something.
I’m not mentioning half the stuff he does because no one believes that ‘such a sweet old man’ could be so Jekyll and Hyde. We’ve seen both. (It was terrifying to behold as a kid.)
Then we have the sad days when he says he wishes he was dead. My brother and I have both confided that at times we both wish he was dead. But we can’t say it to anyone else because they think we’re being unkind and uncaring.
We’ve both done everything in our power to try and make his life a little easier and he has spat it back in our faces. So now we save our criticisms of dad’s antics for one another.
My brother suggested I write a book about dad telling the full, unexpurgated version of his treatment of us, our mother, and other people.
I said I couldn’t do it while he was alive. He said you’ve got to do it at some point, it might help other people who have gone through the same thing.
That’s when I came up with the title ‘Never speak ill of the dad.’
And we both laughed. Because we both knew everyone else would say ‘You can’t say that about such a lovely fellow’.
We can. We know him. You don’t.