Sunday, February 10, 2008

Dads' Club

I've spent this weekend of glorious-yet-slightly-freakish London sunshine doing dad stuff, including doing something that could hardly be more daddish: going to the father and baby club in Brockwell Park. Dads' Club is a kind of drop-in centre for cast-out fathers who are tired of wandering the streets, a haven for middle-class nappy valley dwellers with wives and girlfriends who need a bit of time to themselves. (Buffy spends said time doing housework and rearranging furniture, her favourite hobby, not sitting in the bath eating chocolates which is what I'd do if I were her.) There are toys and little wheely things and free coffee and fruit: imagine a village hall full of babies crawling and running around, and their balding paunchy fathers trying to look sensitive yet manly.

I'm quite a shy person who finds it hard to go up to strangers and talk to them, so I had been wary of attending Dads' Club. What if they all ignored me? What if everyone else knew each other and muttered 'we don't like strangers' in menacing accents when Poppy and I arrived? However, Poppy makes a great prop, either to hide behind (metaphorically; she's not that big yet) or to use as a conversation starter. 'How old is he? How old is she? Oh, I've memorised The Gruffalo too.' That kind of thing. Most of the blokes there were talking about rugby, which I hate. But I did actually have a whole conversation with someone. I'm a bit worried though because I told him my name but he didn't reciprocate. Is that a snub?

I think I'll go back though. Poppy really enjoyed it. She's a lot more sociable than me (she takes after her mother).

It's been a strange week. I went to my Grandad's funeral and saw my cousins and uncle and aunt who I haven't seen since Little Jimmy Osmond was in the charts. We're a close-knot family. Everyone looked so old, which made me feel old. Talk about the ravages of time. It was like staring into the future and not liking what you see. Because Buffy is so much younger than me, I can kid myself that I'm young and vibrant. My laughter lines are just because I laugh a lot. The grey hairs are a trick of the light. I wonder how many years I have left before I start to look haggard and jowly? Will my much-younger girlfriend still need me - will she still feed me - when I'm 64...and she's still a sexy young thing of 52? My god, I'm making myself worry now.

I would also like to publically state that I don't want 'You raise me up' either by Westlife or Daniel O'Donnell, played at my funeral. Even if it is a guaranteed tear-jerker.

My friend Sarah emailed me the other day. She's editing a magazine which is being published to coincide with Paris Fashion Week, whenever that is, and is going to use one of my stories in it. Exciting. I haven't written anything new since Pops was born. I'm too busy hanging out at Dads' Club. Although I do have an idea for a novel/film: a group of blokes meet at Dads' Club - one's divorced, one's unemployed, one is a recent immigrant, one has a sick child - and become bezzy mates. Hilarity and lots of sentimentality ensues, and Dads' Club gives each of the men a new sense of belonging. Then the council threatens to close down the club... Guaranteed bestseller, I reckon. Now if I only I could get motivated to write it...