I HAVE just been hissed and spat at during a sunny walk by Fray’s River in Uxbridge. I hadn’t noticed the pair of swans who were hidden by the river bank, but I soon realised they were protecting three fluffy cygnets who were nervously circling their parents.
Swans, of course, mate for life, and it got me thinking, particularly following Fathers’ Day on Sunday, that we tend to forget that it’s not only mothers who can be protective and caring.
When Fisher Junior was young it was Mr F who read her bedtime stories.
He also washed her hair (I couldn’t bear the tears!) and when she was older and sitting exams he was the parent who helped her with her revision.
He has continued to be a steady influence in her life and, being a walking encyclopedia, he is still the one she turns to when she wants to ask about capital cities, black holes or DNA.
Twenty-two years has passed since my dad died. He looked like Eric Morecambe and shared his sense of humour.
His sandcastles, Welsh Rarebit and impersonation of a Tube train were all legendary, and he made up brilliant stories from any three words I chose.
Dad always wanted to be a reporter and to play the drums, but returning from being abroad with the RAF in the Second World War, he settled for a long career as an office manager.
His Pitman’s shorthand may have been ditched but he could still hammer out a jazzy beat with a couple of spoons.
Then I came along. Though unplanned, I never felt unwanted, and I learned about love from seeing him with my mum. I’m glad he never saw her defeated by Alzheimer’s.
He died suddenly, and without warning, from a massive heart attack.
Only three days before, we had met for lunch in Oxford, half way between our homes in Birmingham and London.
Knowing I was geographically challenged, he asked before I drove off: “Do you know where you’re going, Barb?”
Those final precious words of amused concern will always stay with me.
Come on, let’s stop dissing the dads.
They’re not all bad.