Daddies are bad.

Daddies are bad because they get up early and go to work before I wake up so we can’t have a hug and a kiss and even though I said they couldn’t have a hug and a kiss for a billion years and twenty-eight, they could.

Daddies are bad because they say the mushroom pool is closed for swimming because they want to go the heated warm one instead.

Daddies are bad because they don’t sing to me at bedtime like Mummy and when they do they don’t sound as nice as Mummy.

Daddies are bad because sometimes when they tickle me it makes me do a little wee in my pants.

Daddies are bad because they’re boys and Mummy’s not a boy and I’m not and girls are better.

Daddies are good because they let me steal money from their pockets and put it in my money box.

Daddies are good because they hold me upside down and spin me round and make me laugh, but one time they made my nose bleed but it didn’t hurt.

Daddies are good because they sometimes don’t do the voices when they read at bedtime when I tell them not to, but their voices are quite good actually. Excepting for Merida; that’s not good.

Daddies are good because they sometimes pick me up when my legs are tired and then they hug me and kiss me, because that’s a rule, and even though they’re not supposed to for a billion years and twenty eight.

Daddies are good because they do the rough-and-tumble and when I do Number 4 from my rough and tumble book and jump on them, they laugh and say “I submit” and don’t mind when I keep doing it anyway.

But Daddies are bad because they say they can’t do Number 4 from their rough-and-tumble book on me til I’m six. And I really want to disappear and come back again. But I’m only 5. That’s bad.

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My mum’s sausage rolls.

I grew up with avid foodie parents who loved nothing more than trying to outdo each other in the kitchen.

I’ve lost count of the amount of times my father demonstrated how to crack open and dress a crab. Seafood was his speciality and our Sunday tea usually consisted of crab, brown shrimps, winkles and cockles, salad and brown bread and butter and was utterly delicious.

My mum was a different story. Much as she tucked into the seafood with us, her heart was elsewhere and her absolute speciality was and still is making the most perfect shortcrust pastry you have ever tasted. It is a simple thing but done correctly is a thing of beauty.

She created numerous pie and tarts but the thing we loved most as a family – particularly my dad – was her sausage rolls. He was crazy about that combination of shortcrust pastry and filling.

It’s more usual to make a sausage roll using flakey or puff pastry but mum always favoured shortcrust and I have to say I still definitely prefer it.

Other essential ingredients are of course a good quality free range pork sausagemeat, pinch of mixed herbs and a grated onion, and a beaten egg for glazing.

Needless to say, this recipe has been passed on to me and my daughter now loves them the same way my father did. If she sees me making them she will let out a squeal of delight and rush over to try and ‘help’ me roll out the pastry (most of this ends up in her mouth). I imagine she’ll be making them herself before too long. Maybe with her own daughter.

Time marches on and my father sadly died this year but at the end of last year when he was getting frail and not eating very much, he and my mother came to stay and he asked if she would make some of her famous sausage rolls. We were both so pleased that he wanted to eat something – and seeing that my mother was tired I immediately jumped in and offered to make them instead.

“Ooh yes please! Can I help?”, came the cry from my daughter peeping round his bedroom door, so off we two went and made mum’s famous sausage rolls.

When they were done and we were all tucking into them around my dad’s bed, he took a bite, turned to my mum and said “Do you know I think this pastry might be even better than yours”…

I’ll never forget the look on her face or the smile on his. Priceless.

Thanks for all the laughs dad.

And Happy Father’s Day.

Dear Daughter: I want a different Daddy.

20160728_110604Dear Daughter,

“I want a different Daddy”. This came out of your mouth last night as I was putting you to bed.

When I asked you why, you told me that I don’t let you do whatever you want, but that Mummy does, that other Daddies are nicer to their little children and so you want a different Daddy.

You went on to say that I was really mean and other Daddies aren’t mean to their little children either, so that’s another reason why you want a different Daddy.

I’m sorry that I was losing patience with you at bedtime when you refused point blank to come down from your bunk bed where you were playing, somewhat manically, with Lizzie and Billy (not other children, but soft toys) to get undressed and ready for bed. You told me that Mummy lets you play with Lizzie and Billy whenever you want, even if it is bedtime.

You said it in such a heartfelt way, as if it was the most important thing in the world to you at the time that I was no longer your Daddy and we find you a different one, who isn’t mean.

“Like who?” I asked. “Shall we think of who could be your Daddy instead of me?”

You stopped crying and nodded in the affirmative.

“How about Alma’s Daddy? He seems nice,” I suggested. You thought for a while. “OK,” you said.

I let you think and finally you said, “Would he have to come and live here with me and Mummy? But then Alma wouldn’t have a Daddy and that wouldn’t be fair to her.”

“So, how about Father Christmas?” I further suggested.

Again, you thought for a while, this time smiling a little at the thought of the nice, rotund, cheery person who laughed a lot. “But then would I only get to see him at Christmas?”, you pondered aloud.

“No; you would get to see him every day apart from Christmas, when he would be busy out delivering all the presents to the other children in the world.”

“Oh. So that’s not really any good because I like Christmas Eve and Christmas Day and I would want my Daddy there for those times.”

“Then what about Marnie and Luke and Baby Olive’s Daddy? He plays with them a lot doesn’t he?”

“If he was my Daddy instead of you, would Marnie and Luke and Baby Olive come here to live with me and Mummy? That would be good because then I would get to play with them every day. That sounds good.” You did not speak for some time then; I could see the coming together of your eyebrows creating the crease at the top of your nose, meaning you were thinking hard.

“And if you weren’t my Daddy would you still come and play with me and give me a bath and read me a story and dry my hair while I’m jumping up and down on the bed?””

“Yes, if you wanted me to. Even if I wasn’t your Daddy I would still love you and want to see you every day.”

The creasing became deeper as I let you think and said nothing, though truthfully, this was a painful conversation for me. By this point, it was as much as I could do not to well up; you were giving this a lot of thought.

“If you weren’t my Daddy, and I had a different Daddy, would my new Daddy pick me up from school on the days that Margot doesn’t come to school? And would my new Daddy take me swimming in the warm pool and catch me, I wonder. And do you think my new Daddy would stop at one story at bedtime and not read three or four stories?”

More pause for serious thought.

“I wouldn’t really see you every day, would I, Daddy? But then I would really miss you and I wouldn’t be able to give you a kiss and a cuddle goodnight every day, would I? And you wouldn’t be able to pick me up out of the bath in my towel and carry me into my bedroom.”

Another pause.

“I’ve changed my mind, all right? Can you put my pyjamas on now, please?”

I want you to know that I will always be your daddy my darling girl. Even if Father Christmas seems a better option some days.

Daddy. xxx