There I was, on Friday evening. I was early as usual for a gig, sitting there and waiting for the others to arrive so I thought I'd ring the girls and see how they were.
I couldn't locate A, or she saw me calling on her mobile and decided not to answer, probably the more realistic scenario. I tried K and got her voicemail too. So I remained in my car listening to my newest funky CD and soaking up the atmosphere of the car park of an old English period house. It probably wasn't a car park when they'd built the house though.
Minutes later my phone rang. It was K. I answered.
"Hi K. What's going on? What are you up to?" I asked, trying to recollect everything I've been taught about using detail to talk to my kids, to encourage good quality conversation with them, and failing.
K was talkative, something that imparts upon a father a feeling of apprehension and alertness. I'd imagine that a politician or VIP would feel the same way when being interviewed by Stephen Sackur for Hardtalk and finding him to be friendly, amiable and pleasant as pie. It's tempting to just go with the flow and enjoy the moment but you know that's what a Lion, the king of the jungle, does just before he's surprised and taken from behind by a couple of hairdressers.
We talked about this and that, as one does. I was due to have the girls with me the next night, to watch the England match and have dinner and things. Once K had relaxed me she asked
"Can Z come round tomorrow?"
It was no big deal, he shows up quite a lot now and seems harmless, almost quite nice, as nice as a fourteen year old who can only communicate by grunting can be that is.
"Yeah sure, but I'm definitely watching the football" I answered. I was pleased. I'd been alert enough to know that she was going to ask me that and it was no big deal anyhow. My results for the day in the development as a father, the quest to continually be one step ahead of them were going to be good.
"And is is okay if he stays the night?" she asked.
Still riding on the crest of my success I casually replied.
"Yes of course it is K"
She thanked my, bid goodbye and we ended the call.
Two, perhaps three milliseconds later, something hit me in the face. It was the obvious, many kilograms of it, and it was travelling at quite a high speed. I called K back.
"K, listen" I said rather stupidly. I mean, we were on the phone so why did I tell her to listen? If she wasn't listening she wouldn't have heard the instruction anyhow so wouldn't have been able to obey it, not that she ever obeys me anyway. Dads can be so stupid sometimes.
"When I said Z could stay the night, well it's okay but you two can't sleep in the same room, and it's only okay if his Mum's okay with it and knows about it alright?" Z's parents are divorced, he lives with his Pakistani Mum and she's quite pious I've been told. On the other hand Z is seemingly about as likely to be caught by a huge bout of religion as Barack Obama is to be seen fronting BP's next advertising campaign.
I'd also been told that Old Mrs Z was only vaguely aware of K's presence, that she "sort of" knew she was a friend of the son, but not so much that they're "going out", whatever that means these days.
K made vain attempts to negotiate with me, but I held a steady and certain course. Z could stay but K would have to sleep in my bed. Or I'd drop Z home later in the evening if he wanted that. There was no way they were going to sleep in the separate beds in one room. K skulked off, knowing exactly where I stood on this issue. I went off to set up, play my gig and do drummer's things. The gig was crap, I might write a post and tell you about it another time.
Saturday morning arrived, as it does and K called me to discuss arrangements. She told me, somewhat hoftily, that she'd decided to sleep on the sofa. I told her that she hadn't and that she wasn't. I've just invented the word "hoftily", it seems accurate. When things like this happen I'm like a very heavy jelly; wobbly and shakey but staying in the same place, except when I move of course.
I told her I'd see her about one o'clock as planned, hung up and said goodbye. I made a mental note to say goodbye before I hang up next time, just to make things easier.
Ten minutes before I was due to leave to collect them K called again, sounding shifty.
"Erm Dad, Z's not going to be staying the night now, his Mum says he has to go home" I was told.
"Ok no worries, so we'll drop him back then shall we?"
"No, that's okay, he'll get a train, his Mum says he has to leave by about ten"
"Okay fine" I said.
"Erm, but, erm, the thing is" she said, exceedingly nervously.
"His Mum wants to talk to you, to check you're alright with it" she added.
I smirked inwardly. That was why she was nervous. I, her Dad, was in a position of power. I did my Joey Tribbiani smirking look, but no one was there to see me.
"So is that okay?" she asked.
"Yeah sure it is, when does she want to call me?"
"In a few minutes" came the reply.
And then I panicked, but not as much as I knew K was panicking.
to be continued...............