Wednesday, June 17, 2009

How to show you love your dad

First, an enormous thank-you to everyone who visited Dixon Towers last Sunday as part of Weston Village Open Gardens day.
They sold 283 tickets in all, and our part of the event saw some 215 visitors treading the hallowed lawns. Thanks to the sterling efforts of the tea and cake volunteers, we raised nearly £200 towards a total of nearly £1,900 in aid of Dorothy House Hospice Care and other local charities.
All credit to Bernard Rymer and the committee for ensuring things went so smoothly, to Mrs D for making our own garden look lovely, and to those perspicacious visitors who realised that the funny-looking bloke sitting outside the gate wearing a straw hat and counting people off was none other than your humble columnist.
Anyway, onwards and upwards to much more serious stuff. Father’s Day. This Sunday. Whatcha gonna do?
Before we go any further, let’s be quite clear about one thing: this column isn’t supposed to be any sort of hint that the aforementioned bloke in a straw hat might be on the cadge for presents or anything like that.
Far from it: this is more by nature of a general Father’s Day warning: What Not To Buy For The Dad Who Doesn’t Quite Have Everything.
Let’s make a start with peripheral items of clothing. In other words socks. Now, there are two sorts of socks: socks that have been lost, and socks that have not been lost yet.
Within those two major categories lie a number of sub-divisions: for example socks which look black when worn with shoes, as is right and proper, but actually have candy-coloured stripes on the heels and toes (Why? Why?); socks with Homer Simpson on them; socks that are too thin; and socks that leave nasty red pressure marks as they cut off the blood supply to your carefully-
pedicured toes. Avoid all of these and you’ll do well.
Perhaps music would do the trick. The risk here is that you end up buying the same compilation CD you bought for Mother’s Day, only with different packaging. Yes, the ’60s were a period of burgeoning musical creativity, but there’s only so much Tom Jones you can listen to at any one time.
So how about a book? A visit to any bookseller will immediately prove that they’ve seen you coming: tome upon volume upon compendium, all stacked up on a special Father’s Day table and all thematically linked to what the vendor imagines to be your typical Dad’s literary interests: war, mayhem, criminality and golf.
If your Pa isn’t into any of those, well maybe a personal grooming product will fit the bill.
The only problem here is that whatever you give him carries with it a tacit and maybe unwelcome message: “You smell” (aftershave); “You look old” (gentleman’s moisturising products); or “You ought to do more exercise” (invigorating after-sport body gel).
Check in the bathroom cabinet before you buy any of these creamy unguents. If last year’s offerings are still on the shelf, you’ll be throwing good money after bad.
Gadgets aren’t a bad idea, but you must satisfy yourself before you buy that your paternal relative isn’t so cack-handed that he’ll either electrocute himself or slice off the tips of his fingers. Anything too dangerous and he may start to suspect that you’re making an early grab for the inheritance.
What inheritance?

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