Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Perfect Day With The Girls

'tis rare for me to come out with a good idea. I'm quite proud of the idea I had about Cerno's coffee table, the one about making a coffee table out of coffee table books, and my invention of the wheel was quite good too. But, all in all, I can't make any claims to fame as an ideas person.

The other day though I came up with one. During the divorce me and my ex came to an informal agreement about the arrangements for the summer holiday spell. It involves her taking them away one year and me doing the same the next year. Last year was my turn and I brought them to Lanka. It was fun, challenging, brilliant and tough, but time is a wonderful healer and I know that those were relatively early days.

This year they go away with their mother and I carry on with my normal life. My idea the other day, which might sound like nothing to you, was to take a day off work, take them out and do something that we'd all enjoy. After some negotiation we settled on going to Thorpe Park, a local amusement park, for the day. I use the work "local" there in an entirely subjective way. To you, who more than likely lives in Sri Lanka, it's not local.

My suggestion was initially met with apprehension, as I had been afraid of. I was unsure if thirteen and fifteen year old girls would be up for an amusement park with their Dad. K had been there and had a fantastic time only a few weeks ago, but that was with her friends. A is more into being cool these days, if being cool involves lounging around and watching TV, then telling all your friends on Facebook about what you've just been watching.

This scepticism and reluctance was something I dealt with rather niftily by offering up my counter plan to take them shopping in central London. They were keen on the idea and things were promising. Then, a day or two before the day I received a phone call.

"Dad, we were thinking."

"Ok K" I said guardedly.

"Well we'd actually quite like to go to Thorpe Park on Wednesday, we think it could be fun."

"Ok" I said again, as it's one of my favourite words and it seemed to suit.

And two days later, feeling like an outtake from the Inbetweeners, we were heading off to Thorpe Park. We'd agreed on a pick up time of 8.30 AM as it's summer holiday and we thought the place might be packed. So of course I got to their house at about 8.10 AM. I sometimes wish I could do something about my slightly obsessive earliness, then at other times figure that, at forty three, it's good to just accept some things about myself and go with my flow. The only time I'm late is if there's a song and a drumkit involved and I'm supposed to play.

There we were in the car. There was me, A, K and their seventeen year old cousin B, who was passing through London for a day. I was pleased to see her as it had been a year, perhaps more.

This is one of the things about divorce that many don't realise. Over the years you build relationships with your in laws, sometimes fellows even get to like them. B is a kid who I've known since the day she was born and I'm told that she looks upon me as a father figure, her own father being someone she has more or less no contact with.

I'm flattered and uncomfortable about this father figure business. You know enough about me and my life to understand that even my own kids don't think of me as a father figure (I am joking there, I think!) so for someone else to is a bit weird. But it's strange as B lives way out of London and the indisputable fact is that I have no real relationship to her by blood and now there's no connection even by marriage.

I hope it doesn't happen as I'm fond of her but, in the back of my mind, is the thought that the bond we have will fade with time and circumstance.

I digress.

Our journey was quick and accompanied by a car load of excitement and lots of Black Eyed Peas songs played really loudly. In particular the new one "I got a feeling" was on our playlist. All four of us love it and we sang, out of tune but not out of time, as I'm fussy about these things, to our hearts' content. We arrived, parked and got out of the car. The weather, at 9.00 AM, was warm and humid with that feeling that the day had nothing but more of the same to come. Things were looking good.

Even at that time in the morning there were hundreds of people there already, all queuing up ready for the place to open at 9.30 AM. I was a bit disappointed as I'd hoped we would be the only people in the world who'd come up with the cunning plan to get there early. It wasn't to be and I prepared myself to join the throng and queue up for hours on each ride.

Once we got in things looked different. The seemingly massive crowd got swallowed up by the vastness of the park within seconds and we found ourselves wandering around freely and effortlessly. I'd bought these fastrack tickets that enabled us to bypass queues on busy rides but they were hardly necessary as the queues were only a few minutes long on everything.

And we went on everything. We screamed and laughed our way through every single ride in town. A, K and B knew all the names for the rides and exactly what they were. I was clueless. I couldn't recall if Stealth was the one that made my stomach churn or my head spin dizzily, I couldn't remember if Collossus was the one that had ten 360 twists in a row or if it was the one that I saw Wembley stadium from.

All I knew was that I got to a point at which I was just laughing uncontrollably on every ride. I laughed with happiness, I laughed with fear and I laughed with joy, the joy of watching my daughters laughing and being joyful. We'd cracked jokes beforehand about divorced Dads and bonding, A had put up a jokey message on her FB about it. All of a sudden we really were doing it, kind of like the boiling frog, except it was fun.

It wasn't two kids, a late teenager and an adult out doing something, it was four kids having unadulterated fun. We got soaked on a water thing, we went from 0-80 mph in less than two seconds on another one and we dropped down what felt like a liftshaft in the dark. Then, we stuffed our faces with KFC for lunch and went and did it all again.

Afterwards we returned to RD Towers and chilled and recovered. We were all knackered and I was surprised at just how tiring all the rides actually were. I guess it's the adrenalin flow and the tension that runs through you for a minute as you grip the seat and harness with everything you've got.

Then I took them out for dinner at the local noodle bar. It was food that was much needed and was wolfed down with gusto, not to be confused with pesto.

We watched Midsomer Murders, I guessed who the murderer was and then I dropped them all home.

I slept like a baby that night. Or perhaps a log, I never really understand the difference.

I felt so pleased that the day had gone brilliantly, enjoyed by all.

Every once in a while I come up with a great idea.



Dee said...

this made me :)

Anonymous said...

mate , the posts are becoming rather long winded and for the lack of a better word , boring.

No wonder nothing happens here any more .

Rhythmic Diaspora said...

Anon - Clearly not boring enough to stop you continuing to read and comment!

gutterflower said...

aww, that was really sweet!