Monday, 28 September 2009

Beautiful Day

Incredibly my Dad appears to have turned his depression around. I wanted to show him the person he loved was very much still around. It was a bit of a risk for so many reasons but as part of a birthday gift I took him to see the football with his daughter. Something we always used to do together. All week he had been so excited. When the vile Sun published articles about trans children on their front page I thought it might derail his progress but thankfully we worked through that as well. The day was perfect.

In the morning I had the sweetest of phone calls from my best friend inviting me to see her the following day. Dad & I had a great day together. For a dear Dad who in turmoil & denial at one point vowed he would never walk with me again if I transitioned, who ended up in hospital with all the worry it caused him, only two years later to be at a stadium with 19000 people in with his daughter by his side totally relaxed, a day neither of us ever believed could happen, makes me cry just thinking about it.

From the rather surreal experience of ordering the tickets at the stadium a few days earlier on the spur of the moment. Asking for seats in the quietest part of a football stadium. To be treated so differently to how I had ever been before by the staff in my other life. I mean that in the nicest of ways as throughout they treated me as ME a daughter devotedly taking her elderly Dad to a match. They helped Dad up the steps to his seat. They even took photo's for us using my camera as memento's of the day. In keeping with the script our team behaved perfectly by not getting my Dad over excited as he likes to kick every ball even at his tender years. They actually won for the first time in ages. Our team have been so bad for so long they have ended up back in the same low division they played in when my Dad was a young boy.

This was a big big day for my Dad. He had survived the second world war but this day was potentially full of a lot of emotional shrapnel. It has been so difficult for him as the parent of gender dysphoric child. We were unheard of in those days. My parents had no reference to guide them. I was useless at sport & try as he did he was perplexed as to why his young child showed so little interest, as he himself was brought up on sport. He had almost given up hope when he finally coaxed me along to his great passion. We bonded as he had always wished for. I loved every moment with him.

My childhood memories from the seventies of my distant past flood back to me. I wanted to please my Dad & live up to his expectations but where was my place in this apparently male dominated world. As an only child I had led a fairly sheltered life, preferring my own company, living in my safe imaginary world. I felt so alien in the landscape he wanted to take me to. Like a monochrome chameleon I had to quickly learn to adapt to blend to survive.

Of my early visits to the football, these random thoughts echo my feelings. The horrible smell of tobacco, the pear drop sweets, the machismo I felt no part of yet it felt ok with my Dad. The strange tribalism of the large crowds. A crowd I felt so isolated in, aside from being so close to my Dad. Sweet Caroline playing on the loudspeakers. The long haired androgynous hippie fashions of the youths of that bygone time. The frightening potential for hooliganism to ignite at any time. My confused & distressed feelings at the sometimes sexist, racist & homophobic reaction of the crowds. Political Correctness had not existed in those dark days. I recall seeing George Best play & his girlfriend a model called Angie walking the touchline. She was probably the original WAG & was subject to all kinds of chauvinistic catcalls which really upset me. She seemed so confident, so content in her own skin. I felt I must be the only person with a male body in the stadium who wanted to be like her & not the gorgeous wayward genius Georgie Best. I felt safe by my Dads side.

Sorry I digress from our perfect day. We savoured every moment of our time together sharing what we both knew was likely to be our last ever chance to share such an experience. When the final whistle blew we took an age to leave. As we walked through the crowds outside my Dad stumbled & as I struggled to hold him upright a kind football fan appeared from no where to steady him. This mans compassionate act could not have been further from the preconceived fears we both once may have had about how we may be treated by certain parts of society. If we could have danced back to our car together we would have done, we were both so happy.

When I got to see my friend the following day we got on really well together. Ironically her Dad had always wished for a son & she was bought up supporting one of London's football teams with a fearsome reputation in the seventies. In those days female fans were something of a rarity. Thankfully times have hopefully changed. Its early days but there is hope in my heart that we can rebuild our friendship.

When a Dad & his daughter can share such treasured moments. When on evenings my Mum & I can walk arm in arm, our faces free of make up, our minds free of insecurities & simply be perceived to all the world but most importantly ourselves as Mother, Father & Daughter, its a beautiful day!

My dear Dad will be 85 years young this week. He is the most wonderful Dad, a true Saint, my hero!



Lucy Melford said...

I am SO glad you had this experience with your Dad! It may not necessarily be the last.

How wonderful that it went so well, and that the club staff and the fans were so friendly and helpful. Pleased that the Saints finally won a match: as you say, they have sadly slipped.

Anji said...

What a lovely day you both had. I went to football matches in the North of England in the late 70s. I loved the atmosphere and there was never any trouble at the matches I went to. I even watched a game from the terraces once! My only complaint was lack of ladies toilets.

I can't believe your Dad's birthday has come round again. How time flies! Happy birthday to your Dad.

Karen said...

A beautiful post. The picture really shows what a wonderful day you must have both had and to top it all they won.
So pleased for you both and that you shared this with us.
Thank you
Karen x

Anonymous said...

wow, I loved that blog. It brought tears to my eyes.
What a special day together. I could almost feel the love from here!
Your father sounds wonderful.

Debbie K said...

Thank you Lucy, Anji, Karen & Lisa for your very kind comments.
My Dad is my hero. He still kicks every ball even when he is watching the match on the radio. As mad as that sounds its true.

GirlWhoShould said...

The matcho terrace culture tended to put me off when going to matches, however I have so many other happier memories there as well and it sounds you have a happy memory of your visit. I'm delighted for him they won as well,
Lucy x