Sunday, 12 July 2015

Father's Day

Another Rosalie moment...

Canonbury, London. 1990.
Father's Day was difficult for Rosalie. Her nomadic life meant that most years she didn't even notice it, but sometimes...

She loved her father with all the unquestioning fervour of a little girl who never saw him fail, fall or collapse.  Until the very end, of course, and she could hardly blame him for that.

How could she hate him for dying of a broken heart? He had loved her mother more than he loved her. That was OK. It was understandable.

She had ignored the deepest loss at the time thanks to s combination of Cecelia’s family, their hectic schedule on the London party scene, and a heady combination of sex, drugs and rock n roll. A sixteen year old in that scenario was far too immortal to let grief get in the way.

The death of Cecelia herself made three in the space of a year. Not many seventeen year olds made themselves anew, but with the only three people she really loved gone, there was nothing for Rosalie except to cut her life loose.

The Canonbury house - already ignored - was shut up completely. Rosalie the Face on the Scene disappeared. She cut herself off from drink, drugs, sex and any kind of human relationships beyond the most shallow interactions.

She directed her love to music instead: she wasn't the best barmaid the Marquee ever had but she was the most devoted. No band ever wanted for a thing when she was working; no one on the audience ever had a bad time.

Nobody worked longer hours, nobody complained less. Jack never forgave Rosalie for leaving the club. Not even when she played there herself just before the club shut for good, transformed from barmaid to pop royalty.

She was avoiding both her scheduled songwriting session and the real topic at hand: it was twenty years since her dad died and she was at home alone.

A shrill yelp interrupted her melancholia and proved that last thought erroneous: she was not alone, given that her son was a room away. He was not celebrating Father’s Day either-

She poked her head around the door to where he was playing. ‘What’s wrong Richard, my love?’

‘Fell over!’

He was playing on a thick rug and couldn't have fallen too hard but he looked shocked to tears.
Rosalie put her guitar aside and sank down onto the rug. She scooped him into a warm, messy hug of tangled limbs. His damp face pressed against hers.

He sniffled and wept for a moment or two until he was calm enough to speak. ’Mummy, can we go to the park, can we, can we?’

It was a fine June day. The park would be full of families: sons, fathers, grandfathers...

Yet, the word "no" never went down well with Richard, her beloved only child, who had spent his life so far as the indulged son of “Rosalie!” and almost always the only child in the room.

She took a deep breath. ’Maybe.’

She smothered his face with fluttery kisses until he laughed.

Son suitably comforted, Rosalie went back to her work but found her focus was totally gone. She remembered a million moments with Danny Cochran. Big events, small moments. Missed chances, lost opportunities. The doorbell rang.

Stood on the step with a bouquet of flowers in one hand and a football under the other arm was Bobby Andrews, managerial supremo.

’Hello!’ Rosalie ushered him into the house with a kiss on the cheek. He was the best kind of surprise.

Something was off, wrong, out of sorts. It took a moment... ‘Bobby, are you wearing shorts?’

He blushed a little. ’Yes... thought Sprocket might like a kick around in the park...’

‘Oh!. Her grin broadened. ‘I think we’d both like that.’

Richard was pleased as punch at such an idea and within ten minutes the Cochrans and Bobby were suitably kitted out and ready to play.

It was a bit of a trek to the park but the June weather was warm and bright.

The park was busy but they found a spot to call their own and the kick around began... And continued. And went on. The trio had such breathless, grass-stained fun that they did not stop until the littlest member fell to the soft ground huffing and puffing, his short legs burning from their exertions.

Rosalie dropped down beside him.

‘I think you won,’ she said.

‘Nobody won, Mummy! It was just for fun!’

‘Absolutely, kid.’ Her heart swelled a little at seeing him so happy, open and kind.

After a short period spent persuading Richard to actually leave the park, they stopped at a corner shop for ice cream on the way home.

‘Thank you, Bobby!’ Richard grinned, his mouth covered in chocolate seconds after being handed a Cornetto.

They meandered along the street as they scoffed their ice creams. Richard was more interested in hopscotching along the paving stones than in the grown-ups.

‘Don’t get me wrong Bobby, it’s lovely that you’re here but… what are you after?’

‘I’d be hurt at the inference if it wasn’t probably right. I’m here because I wanted to spend Father’s Day with my family. I hope you don’t mind.’

‘Oh.’ Rosalie felt her smile spread across her face until it hurt.

‘While I’m here-’

‘I’m on holiday, Bob.’

‘I know… but when you’re ready, Stanley Crudup sent some new songs. Just when you’re ready.’

‘Happy Father’s Day, Bobby.’

It wasn’t the first time she’d said his name and it had sounded more like “dad” but perhaps it was the first time she noticed.

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