Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Match of the Dad - The Red Nose Diaries.

Why do I hate football? Perhaps a better question is why am I not more like a real man? That one I can answer. The answer is: My Dad.

My Dad can do things. He can drive and fix clocks and get women pregnant 5 times. Well, one woman. All of these things he has never shared with me and, although I'm delighted that he's never shared the experience of getting my Mum pregnant with me, I wish he'd told me more stuff when I was a kid. How can my Dad fix a clock and I can't? I mean, if I had a child and I knew how to fix a clock, I'd share that knowledge with them. It would bring us closer together and it would give that child something to pass on to someone else later in life. Why don't I know how to fix a clock? Why did my Dad never want to show me how to fix a clock? Sometimes I wonder why I broke the clock in the first place.

Yesterday, Dad and I went shopping. I didn't know what we were shopping for because Dad never says why he's going to the shops. Readers of this blog might remember my last shopping spree with Dad. After 15 minutes wandering around Lidl, I asked him why we were here. He said "I want a bag of grapes and a hammer". I stopped asking questions after that. 

Dad needed snow chains for the tyres on his car. I should point out that he most definitely didn't need them but he said he did because, really, he just wanted them. So there I was. With my Dad. Looking at snow chains for car tyres. Because my Dad is a man and I am, in his presence, a boy. He kept tutting and saying numbers that I didn't understand about tyre size. Dad must have known about the sizes of tyres for 50-odd years yet he's never shared this information with me so I don't know how to respond. Just like when he talks about driving or fixing clocks. I just don't know how to be as manly as him. "Son", he said to me, once again forgetting my name. "Can you ask that man if they have any snow chains for 235-50 tyres?".

He knows I can't.

Well, if Dad isn't going to make me more of a man then I'm going to have to make him make me more of a man. I have to do this stupid Comic Relief thing and my Dad loves sport so me and my Dad should watch sport together. He can explain football to me and I'll finally get some knowledge from him. Yes, He's mainly a huge Formula 1 fan but he's also a life long Manchester City supporter. Not that he ever shared his love of his team with me. He barely mentioned them. But he did have a manly sticker on his manly car that had a picture of Sylvester the cat wearing a Man City shirt and saying "Hear the Man City ROAR!" on it. It was time for Dad and I to bond.

We sat together to watch Match of the Day, a Loose Women-style programme for people who like to watch little bits of football but mainly love seeing other people just sit there talking about it. Dad was very happy to sit with me and watch although, obviously, I wasn't keen. Maybe if he sat and watched it with me when I was a child we wouldn't have this problem but he didn't. He kept his precious football to himself. Manchester City was his and his alone. I'd never have known he even knew who Man City were unless Sylvester thaid it to me. But that's the past. And this is now and my father and I are going to bond.

I have to give Match of the Day it's dues. It really, really tried to get me to like it. The opening credits are a montage of things I know nothing about. Things like goals and cheering and numbers on the back of shirts. Then, for no reason other than to get me interested, Tom Baker appears dressed as Doctor Who. Two seconds later The Young Ones pop up. Guys, that was SO lovely of you. You've made me feel really welcome. Then they played The Smiths! Bloody hell! Is football trying to get off with me? I'm getting wooed.

It didn't last. Gary Lineker, a man I know little about but for some reason I like him, introduced us to Alan Shearer and Danny Murphy. Both men had a look as if to say "do we have to talk about football?" which made me laugh immediately. Dad didn't laugh though. To be fair, I understood. Football isn't my thing but it is something my Dad loves and if we're going to bond at all then I better take it seriously. We watched the three men briefly discuss that day's football and I sat back and waited for my Dad's knowledge to pour out. He said nothing.

Come on, Dad. BOND!

The first match highlights began. It was Chelsea vs Manchester City. Brilliant. Not only have I seen this, and therefore can somewhat discuss it, but it's Dad's favourite team. Perfect. "Did you watch this match?", I asked. Dad said no and we immediately went back to silence. Right. "I won't tell you the score then", I said. 

"One all", said Dad. 

Ah, of course. He didn't see the match but of course he kept up with it because he loves Man City. That's his team. Of course he knows the score. Stupid of me. We aren't going to bond if I'm going to be this stupid. I better say something clever. "That first goal by Remy was good".

I had no idea if it was good but one thing I did know for sure was that Dad would know. He'll explain why it was good or bad and pass his knowledge on to me and we will bond. But he said nothing. As silent about his love of football as ever. What he shared with a fictional cat, he would never share with me. And Match of the Day went on...

I wish I liked footsie because Match of the Day actually seems quite fun. There's smiley chat with some guys and little jokes keep popping up in graphics across the screen and the whole thing is quite jolly. It's basically a podcast that's done really well. I just wish it had more Tom Baker in it. It's clearly not for me but it's definitely a really great programme. And it introduced me to my new football hero. His name is Kane and he plays for Tottenham Hotspur and every time he scores he seems really happy. Like someone has given him a Valentine's card. He just looks chuffed. I didn't know footballers did chuffed. Anyway, I liked him and Dad never gave an opinion on him so it was time to give bonding another go. "Who's your favourite footballer?", I asked.

"There are a lot of good players now.", he replied. "Who's yours?"

"Dee Hepburn".

Dad said nothing. A shame as I had thought of that gag two days previously and was really hoping to get it into this conversation but Dad either didn't get it or didn't care. Come on, Dad. I'm really trying. I'm sitting here watching something you love and wanted you to share that with me. Open up. Bond with me, Dad. BOND WITH ME.

"Do we have to watch this?", he said.

What? I explained to him that, although I was doing this for Comic Relief, I was also using it as an opportunity to spend time with Dad and appreciating something that he loves.

"But I hate football".

WHAT? But what about us bonding? But what about your support of Manchester City? What about the sticker? The cat in a football shirt? What about the Man City ROAR, Dad?

"It was just a sticker, son".

It was just a sticker?

"I haven't liked football since I was 5. My Da took me to see Bangor play and Bap Dunlop kicked the ball into the crowd and it hit me in the face. It wasn't Man City I liked, it was Sylvester".

My childhood was full of fear because of football. I was made to play it at school and was terrified of the ball or any of the players coming anywhere near me. I was scared of football being played in the park, the school playground and on TV. To me, it was just bullying with some rules attached. I didn't like football because I was scared of it. And my father was the same. I was scared of football, not because my Dad didn't share it with me and gave me confidence, but because Bap Dunlop is a prick. A huge man who kicked a ball way too hard into the face of a child. My father and I sat together in front of Match of the Day and we bonded.

And that's why I am who I am. Sometimes, I mess up because I just don't have the confidence or strength of character that maybe I would have if it wasn't for the arrogance and cruelty of Bap Dunlop. Every mistake I have ever made, every ridiculous step I have taken, every opportunity missed is solely down to the spite for humanity that boiled in the very blood of Bap Dunlop. And who knows how many people he has destroyed through his hatred? Dad? Yes. Me? Yes. You...?

All I know is that the next time I screw up in work, in love, in life... I will turn to the person I have upset, and you can do this too, and I will say "No. Do not blame me. It was Bap Dunlop's fault".

You're welcome.


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