Difficult, annoying, argumentative. Smoked too much, drank too much, fuelled by coffee and the need to be right. The need to know you had done the right thing, however hard it might be. Excruciatingly honest at times. Able to perform in public, but hating the limelight. Stupidly softhearted at others and hang on a minute I’m supposed to be writing about my dad, and I seem to have ended up talking about me instead.
We were a bit too alike. Which is why we argued, endlessly. Oh my god, did we argue. I am faintly proud that ‘doing a Jess’ has now passed into the family lexicon, meaning ‘to stand up during a heated discussion, tell the other party to fuck off, and then storm out’. I am very mature. Very. I can’t tell you how many times I did a Jess when I was with Dad. No, I literally can’t, it was kind of expected of me and I would have hated to disappoint him. Actually, thinking about it, I should have done it at his funeral. Bugger.
We always worked things out though, eventually. Usually by him saying ‘I’m a stupid old git, I shouldn’t have said what I said. I love you to bits, make.’ And then we’d both get a bit tearful, and I’d call him a silly old arse, and get him a glass of Merlot so we could both have a bit of a weep without the other one seeing. We were too alike. What he didn’t like in me was what he didn’t like in himself.
What did he like in me? He liked my determination. He liked my honesty. He liked my refusal to back down when I knew I was right (aside from the whole ‘doing a Jess’ thing). He admired me for my strength, my intelligence, and my intuition. He loved that I can think around corners, that what seems so obvious to me is something that eludes others. He loved me for my voice, my love of words, and the joy I took in writing. He loved that I am, and always have been a contrary little bastard, and he regularly would tell me to move on to another subject when I’d got the best of him. Quite often by telling me to shut up. At which I would fold my arms, jut my chin out and say ‘No.’
So being told to ‘shut the fuck up’ last night was a bit like Dad re-emerging from um… his urn actually. I wish I could make that sound slightly more dramatic. Would it help if I knocked my ashtray over, to make it seem like some kind of spiritual apparition? I could pick the fag butts out, and then chuck the ash in the air with a bit of decent lighting. No? Ok.
Shut the fuck up? No. You should know me better than that. Dad did. And if he were here now, he’d laugh & tell me to get another glass, give me a hug and tell me that he loves me, stupid twats that we both are. And I would give a shaky laugh, and it would be ok. It would all be ok. It doesn’t feel ok right now, but I have to have faith that it will be ok, somehow. I don’t know how, but it will be ok, because it has to be, because I have to be. It will become ok.