My father was a non-person
One after another, after another. Not all at the same time, usually in splurges with spaces in between – sometimes a few hours apart, other times with gaps of a week or more. Nevertheless they’ve kept on coming.
There was once a brief dialogue – to call it a conversation would be to give that handful of words a disservice and convert the exchange into something far more tangible than it in fact was. Yet its consequence as an exchange between a father and his son remains highly emotive. But it certainly acts as a clear example of where the confusion and internal dislocation lay.
A tall, slim, casually dressed man with black hair enters the sitting room unexpectedly. He has an interesting presence about him, is friendly and my curiosity is aroused. I’m sitting on the floor playing cards with a friend. This stranger looks towards me, smiles and in a gentle voice says, “You must be Julian?” I answer in the affirmative, he pauses briefly, turns and leaves. My friend immediately asks who he was to which all I can reply is, “I think he was my father”.
My friend didn’t understand how I could not know my own father. In fact neither did I and the encounter left a trail of confusion. I had no conception of just how I could now engage with this man who’d appeared and disappeared in a matter of seconds. I was powerless, lost. In front of my friend I felt foolish and therefore humiliated. It was to be another seven years before I came across him again and we were ‘officially’ introduced. Even so the pretentious value structure of suburbia persisted and everyone behaved then as if there was nothing out of the ordinary in our non-relationship.