Tuesday, 5 July 2011

A Less Than Premature Arrival At Chesil Bay; Largely Thanks To Dad.

So much for Dad having told us to please ourselves. We've done nothing exciting since we arrived, unless you count eating the meal that he'd already cooked and served while we were still en route. (Taking the first mouthful of that felt like bungee jumping, in terms of the anxiety it provoked.)

Apart from a quick trip to Tesco, we spent yesterday sitting on his new patio furniture, and admiring the fence he's recently built. I don't think I was as effusive about that as Dad would have liked, but it just looked like a fence to me.

"I like the pointy bits along the top," I said, when things got really desperate.

They became even more so in the evening, once Dad turned the TV on. I've never been so confused in my life.

Every time I went to the loo, or to make a cup of tea, I'd come back and spend the next ten minutes trying to work out how I could have missed enough of the programme for it to have become utterly incomprehensible.

When I returned from phoning Josh, to find that yet another guest had mysteriously appeared on Come Dine With Me, I had no choice but to admit that I was having trouble keeping up.

"So who are these guys?" I said. "And why are they all dressed as cowboys? Did the host specify fancy dress?"

"It isn't Come Dine With Me," said Max. "Your Dad got bored with that while you were on the phone, and so he turned over - yet again."

"Great to have so many channels to choose from these days," said Dad, while I wondered whether you can develop ADHD in your seventies. And whether you can buy Ritalin over the counter.

A sneaky call to NHS Direct confirmed that you can't, so Dad spent the rest of the evening channel-hopping, and Max and I were both exhausted by the time we went to bed. Then we didn't sleep a wink.

We might have stood a better chance if Dad hadn't chosen to wake us up at 5:30am this morning, for reasons known only to himself.

"Did you have a good night?" he says, yanking the curtains open, and opening the window.

I make a non-committal noise, while Max asks Dad where he bought the spare bed.

"No idea," says Dad. "It was a wedding present."

For one horrible moment, I think he's married Porn-Poon in secret, and that this is his way of casually dropping it into the conversation. (That's exactly what he did after his wedding to Stepmother Mark III, so he's already set the precedent.)

"What wedding?" says Max, while I'm still hyperventilating.

"The one to Molly's mother," says Dad - as if that was obvious.

Seeing as it must have been forty years ago, it wasn't - but I think it's safe to assume the mattress has had its day. No wonder Max and I are so completely knackered.

We're determined to have a proper day out, though - once I've found the courage to tell Dad we're not taking him with us today.

"That'll be nice," he says, much to my surprise. "You two go off and enjoy yourselves. You don't get enough time alone what with that layabout grandson of mine still living at home."

"Too true," I say.

I know I should stand up for Josh, but now is probably not the time. I want to get ready before Dad changes his mind.

"Just take a look at this sofa for me, before you go, Max," he says. "There's a big saggy bit where I usually sit."

Which probably matches the equally saggy bit in the mattress upon which Max and I were expected to sleep last night, but we're both far too polite to say so. God knows why.

Anyway, mending the sofa takes Max until lunchtime, at which point Dad decides that we may as well have "a snack" before we leave.

"You make a start on the toasted sandwiches, Molly," he says. "I'll have cheese and onion. While you're making it, I just want to show Max the drawer that keeps sticking - and the wardrobe door that's loose."

It's almost 3:00pm - and raining - by the time we get into the car, and then we get lost on the way to Chesil Beach.

It might not seem the most advisable destination for a couple with a less than demanding sex-life - or not according to Ian McEwan, anyway - but when we finally arrive and step out onto the shingle, nowhere could feel more wonderful.

The sun comes out from behind the clouds, and shines directly onto East Cliff, turning it into a terrine of ochre and gold - and there's no sound other than the breaking of waves. Even better, we seem to have no signal on our mobile phones.

"Your face looks totally different," says Max, as he bends to kiss me. "As if it's suddenly softened up."

I don't reply, as I'm far too busy wondering how long we can stay. Forever would be rather nice.

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