June 30, 2009

Damn the 80's (thanks to #manweek and Reach Out Australia)

Fathers are a funny thing. I'm assuming as you grow up they are either there or they are not. I'm pretty unsure about mine, I recall plenty of times when he WAS there and many of them were when we were going away somewhere and he was driving while us kids, pre-seatbelt, in the back seat of an old blue Hillman Hunter or the follow-on Datsun 160J. Beige - just like the fucking 70's.
We had that car till it almost dropped, right through the shithouse 80's. The decade of shuttered dreams and (as remembered) wonderful hot summers. The decade bookended by the ferry to England. In 1980 to visit family in Swindon and London and Kent and in 1989 to Newquay for the Summer - but those are different stories.
In between there was glorious soaring metal dinosaurs (I'll have to find the cracking poem I wrote in 1990) being made to lie permanently idle as the Shipyards of the Far East ripped the guts out of almost 150 years of ship building in my home. And job losses anon, and depression and wonderful hot summers. Ah 1983. Practically collapsing when being forced to walk what felt like 5 miles in the searing heat with fucking Sea Scout Jumpers on to the Church for 'Mass' in County Wexford while on Summer Camp. And then when trying to have some FUN at the campsite, being made to walk 4 miles around the bay to fucking Rosslare to watch the fricking ferry head off to France or Wales or somewhere more exotic than there. The next time I'd be at Rosslare would be 6 years later to get that Ferry to Wales to take me to Newquay.
Jesus Ireland was fun in the 80's...and hot.
I was only in the fucking Sea Scouts because my Dad was in the Navy and one of the leaders was his mate. Or at least that what I thought at the time. You'ld think I'd ask my Dad. I left that because I was a contrary prick back then too. The only constant thing about the 80's was the beige Datsun 160J. Or was it 180? Again, you'ld think I'd ask my Dad. Anyway all that matters is that it was beige and it was our wheels in the 80's when so many of my mates families didn't even have a car. Now everyone in Ireland has two and 14 houses and DEBT. Lots of that again. Just like the 80's.
So maybe my Dad wasn't there as much as I might've liked. I remember my Nan more, or my Mam. I remember being in trouble lots, though nothing serious...except that one time. Another story, another time. I almost lasted the 90's in Ireland. The temporary stint in Australia since '98 has, well, been since '98. It is warmer here after all.
And now I love to chat with my Dad. I probably ask him questions and we probably drink Whiskey, when we see each other. I think I have better taste than him, but he has the better experience. So if he says Jameson is good stuff and he buys me a bottle, who am I to quibble. And when I am drinking it with him, it does taste better than when I drink it on my own. Perhaps when I was sipping from the bottle of Captain Morgan Rum in the bottom of the wardrobe when I was 10 or 11, I should have just cracked out the glasses to have some with him instead? Nah, I was underage, and anyway we still had to have some serious disagreements over the Bush v Iraq version 1. I think it was my Nephew that did it, or maybe it was me getting a little older.
So do I need answers to the questions of the 80's? Do I need him to be there more in the 80's? Probably not. That time is past, and what happens now is better. I don't remember being overly unhappy and anyway, I wouldn't have turned out the way I did and probably would never have come to Australia and met my wife and had my kids. Sometimes the negatives are there for a reason I guess, there are always positives to balance them out further down the track.

(Note, I have no idea if Summers in the 80's in Ireland were actually any hotter than any other decade, we probably just more easily remember the good things!)

This post is with thanks to Gavin Heaton for prompting me to revisit my past, something I've been threatening to do for years! He did that as Part of the Reach Out initiative and especially because this is #manweek It's been a positive thing for me.
Other #manweek posts on this topic are from
Matt Moore
Mark Pollard
Craig Wilson
and of course the Reach Out Blog itself


  1. Now, that is a great post, Gav! Shows that despite our desire to forget the 80s they are so deeply ingrained in our sense of self that to erase them is impossible. Now, if only you could hum a few bars of Karma Chameleon ...

  2. How did you know that was my most favourite song for about 5 weeks in 1983!

  3. Great post,

    Can I ask if you took out the swearing do you feel it detract from the message? I just wanted to let you know I enjoyed reading the post although it would be great if you used a ! to emphasise a point and then we can all show this post to kids and families but at the moment the swearing is putting me off a tiny bit.

    Hope you don't mind my honesty and thank you again for sharing.

  4. Hi Mark, Thanks for the input. I'm a random sort of writer, and this was an early post. I'm not a big fan of encouraging kids to be a potty mouth, there are enough of us around already. I'll have a look and see what I can do.