My father used to read my blog posts on a regular basis. It was a fact I hated; one that always felt like I had to hold back because of. I'm writing this because of something that has just happened. About half an hour ago, I was told that my father had just died in hospital, following complications in an operation. It was the outcome we all expected, but it is one that still feels like a shock.
I'll be honest: there were days when I hated my father. He was variously a drunk, a thug, a bully and inclined to preface anything in any family member's life by telling them that he couldn't help them. He was inclined to play the martyr when anyone stood up to him, accusing them of bullying him in turn.
Yet he was also there on some of the occasions that mattered most. He brought me home when I suffered my first breakdown, at Reading University. He helped me put things back together when I suffered my second, during my PhD. He allowed me to stay at home while I built up my ghostwriting business to a level where I can now, just about, support myself. As a child, he was the one ferrying me about to fencing training and kung fu lessons, things that stay with me even now.
And, now that he's gone, I can see that somewhere in amongst the rest of it, he was probably proud of me and my brother too. He never really showed it, he certainly never said it. He once picked up a work I'd ghost written and his only comment was that there was a grammatical mistake on the first page. Yet he did read it, just as he read this blog. Just as he read practically everything else I produced.
I think I'll probably miss that.