Written by Camilla King

Voices

Replacement dad

Since her father died a few years ago, Camilla King has found herself eyeing up other men who might fit the job remit.

Penguin familyMy husband and I recently celebrated our sixth wedding anniversary. It was incredibly romantic. We both had vile colds; snotty, wheezy, coughing, and in my case voiceless, and spent the day in our pyjamas surrounded by piles of tissues and trying to ignore the kids, who as luck would have it were also ill. Good times.

We’d booked to have a celebratory dinner at a local Italian, and were determined to have our carb-fuelled night out, come hell or high fever. So there we were, faces stuffed with all manner of gluten and dairy based delights, when our waiter came over and joked with my husband about the olives he’d carefully removed from his pizza (he likes olives, just not too many in one go), and it happened. A lightning bolt. I fell, hard.

He was probably in his 60s, bald, Italian, twinkly eyed and utterly charming. He was perfect. No, not perfect for sexy times; come on, give me some credit – I was out celebrating my wedding anniversary. Perfect Dad material.

I turned to my husband, eyes shining and said, “Oh my, isn’t he lovely? I mean, I really, really, want him to be my dad.” My husband, because he is the best, simply nodded and agreed that our waiter was indeed perfect Dad material.

You see, there’s a vacancy in my life that’s needed filling for a few years now, and the position is Dad. My own brilliant and flawed father died just over three years ago, and although the grief has eased, I’ve never stopped missing him.

“I’m pretty sure I’ve worked out the casting for my perfect Dad. He needs to be part Mark Rylance and part Ade Edmondson as Count Rostov in the BBC’s War and Peace.”

Along with that anniversary dinner lightning bolt of weird misplaced Dad love, came a startling clarity: I need a replacement Dad. Not that my own father could ever truly be replaced, but I have spent a lot of my adult life searching for an extra father figure.

There’ve been various men who’ve temporarily filled the role, mostly people I’ve worked with, unsurprisingly the odd teacher and university professor, but they’ve all been transient, just passing through. I’ve never appointed any of them as an official extra Dad. And to be fair, they would probably find all of this really quite odd.

I’m not sure how you broach the subject of wanting someone to fill a father-like hole in your life. “Hi, so, you’re kind of nice and wise and, um, want to play Daddy?” No, that’s definitively not the way to go about this. I fear I’m running the risk of attracting the whole internet’s worth of nutters.

father and young babyI’m not sure it’s the kind of role you can advertise for, but after much television watching (because that’s how I make the majority of my life choices), I’m pretty sure I’ve worked out the casting for my perfect Dad. He needs to be part Mark Rylance – twinkly eyes, lovely smile, wry laugh, interested in books and art, liberal thinking (but without the slightly wacky spirituality; we’d clash over that) – and part Ade Edmondson as Count Rostov in the BBC’s War and Peace. You know, funny, generous, likes a party, massive pushover, can just about afford to fund a handbag/lipstick habit in a grown-up child, forgiving, scatty, wears a weird hat, great with kids. *Contented sigh* This Dad sounds ace.

I’ve got a sneaking suspicion that all the really great Dads out there are already fully booked, but if anyone has a passing acquaintance with Mark Rylance or Ade Edmondson and feels bold enough to ask about their fatherly credentials and capacity to take on an extra (adult) daughter, please do feel free to pass on my Twitter handle. Much appreciated. Until then I’ll just keep going to my local Italian and hoping I can wear down my gentlemanly waiter with my impressive capacity to consume large quantities of handmade fettuccine.

@millking2301

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Written by Camilla King

Freelancer in the arts. Unwilling expert on Batman, dinosaurs and poo (there are children) and running widow of @UpDownRunner. Lover of music, cake and lady stuff. @millking2301