A few nights ago we were at a friends house when, around bedtime, he produced a bottle of vodka for a nightcap. As the girls retired, so we sat and talked the small hours away, coherence fading with direct correlation to the level of that spirit until, before I knew, it’s 3am, the bottle empty. I know that’s going to hurt tomorrow.
But then a strange thing happened.
In his bathroom, a mirror was magnified and I glanced into it on that final trip to a well needed sleep, and what I saw caused me to take a step back.
There, for the first time in my life, I saw my father looking back at me.
Despite an ocean of Poland’s finest swimming inside of me, it neither frightened me or even horrified me – just surprised me, that’s all. A sudden realisation of that sense of inevitability – the one that I had pushed to the back of the draw all these years in a bid to stay 26 years old.
It was like learning that Santa was actually someone’s dad or the tooth fairy was really your own mum, only slightly more drunk! Or, heaven forbid, that day when you realised that most politicians and lawyers were as equally dishonest as the people they served…things we now take for granted.
A week earlier, I had to help my own father up, after a fall, and it had shocked me how frail he had become. That night it dawned on both of us that, despite his dignity, help was the only real friend he had left.
And now, here he was, looking back at me. He smiled, and then grinned. I don’t know why, maybe it was the booze.
Some people in life have an abundance of talent, and this friend, the one who had filled me with vodka on that occasion is a gifted musician, with a born ability to play almost any instrument without tuition, as well as writing music and tunes at the drop of a hat. During that long evening, he had suggested that I, the writer, might liked to pen a few lyrics to which he would enjoy adding a tune. In fact, as the liquor flowed, so we became the next Simon and Garfunkel, or whoever its modern day equivalent is.
All in all, it was an interesting night that I will long remember.
Today I stood on the beach, watching a couple of kids who had built a commendable sand-castle, trying to protect it as the Forth slowly but inevitably came inwards on its afternoon tide. Each time a small wave made its way up the beach, they squealed at it, splashing it away with their tiny plastic spades. Any grown-up could have told them they wouldn’t win that battle, but they had fun trying.
At 3am tonight, I am once again wide awake, although thankfully not full of rocket-fuel as I was a few days ago.
Below is a draft of a chorus to my very first attempt at putting my feelings, not in to my usual rantings, but in a song lyric.
I have entitled it:
YOU CANT HOLD BACK THE TIDE.
Greying and loss will come all too soon
Better make sure you enjoy the ride
The face of fathers, the pull of the moon
I found out today, you cant hold back the tide
Who knows, I may even complete a few verses, but that is quite doubtful. Maybe I am too grown up now?