The Drunken Years
I never really noticed his drinking until I was eleven. We'd had a picnic indoors because it was raining outside and as evening fell, we decided to put some Beatles music on and dance to 'Yellow Submarine'. I danced like crazy, but eventually fell down onto a chair in exhaustion. But dad kept pulling me back up to dance. It wasn't a particularly bad thing, but it made me wonder what exactly had made him so jolly.
The next time I noticed it, I was twelve and dad had taken my brother and I out for a bike ride to Cosmeston Lakes. The trouble was, we had to pedal through busy roads and highways to get there. Halfway there, dad fell off his bike and nearly got run over by a car. When we helped him up and moved him out of harms way, he told me that he couldn't go on. When we asked him why, he told us he was too drunk. This was the first time my father admitted to me that he had been drunk. Being the oldest child, I took charge. I had to. We rode back to the house along all of the alleyways and quiet streets I knew, because I was terrified my father would be killed on the busy roads. It took us almost an hour longer to get back than it would have if we'd used the roads.
The next time, I was at my grandparent's house and was fourteen. I was staying over at theirs because I used to go to a stage school and they would always offer me to sleep over at theirs afterwards. I remember I was playing Scrabble with my Grandfather and was getting solidly trounced when the bell rang. We all looked up. It was late and nobody had called ahead to say they were coming. When I opened the door, there stood dad swaying on the spot. He practically ran inside, latched onto me and broke down in tears. My grandparents stood where they were, perplexed as to their son's behaviour. They didn't pull dad off me, as they should have.
Dad cried and cried, almost crushing me with his 17 stone weight slumped over me. But somehow, I held him up. He kept whispering my name, saying I was beautiful and how much he loved his only daughter. Then he admitted to me that he was still desperately in love with my mother, though he was now remarried to a lovely woman called Gwen. My parents had divorced when I was five, but it had been my mum who left him and now I knew that my father still hadn't gotten over her.
Eventually, dad calmed down enough to stop crying. I sat down on the floor whilst my grandparents offered him some food, neither of them saying a word about the incident that had just occurred. I sat and stared at the fireplace, wondering why my father had told me what he had. But after my dad had had his food, he came over to me and stood behind me. I know he didn't mean to hurt me, but he wrapped his hands around my neck and squeezed in a way that he probably thought was affectionately. But in actual fact, I couldn't breathe. My grandparents still stood by and did nothing.
Luckily, dad let go after about twenty seconds and I could breathe again. I was shaken. That was the very first time in my life that I could honestly say that I was afraid of what my father could do.