12 days until we fly.
This morning, Ava went to her local swimming class for the last time. Which is just as well, because she’s absolutely hopeless at it. Just one of the many underwhelming DNA traits she inherited from me.
There’s a guy who takes his daughter, Wimp, to the same class. I don’t know or even care what her real name is. She’s a decent swimmer, but cries non-stop for the full lesson.
Each week I sit in the viewing gallery and watch with frustration as Ava is taught for the 15th time how to kick. But I am comforted by the sight of Wimp screaming for 30 minutes. That makes me feel better.
Her Dad seems like a nice bloke, and makes jokes with Ava when he sees her. Obviously I don’t speak to him – we men don’t do such things. Rather than chat directly to one another, we can have a conversation through our kids. Example, I’ll say:
“Look Ava, that little girl has a Frozen swimming costume. I bet she doesn’t have a tantrum if her Daddy doesn’t play the soundtrack in the car.”
To which Wimp’s Dad will say to Wimp:
“Oh I don’t know about that. We love a good screaming fit in the car, particularly if Daddy gets the song words wrong, don’t we?”
You get the picture.
But today, something strange happened. As he and Wimp left the changing room, he patted me on the back, and said “see you next week”.
The nerve of the guy, talking to me directly! This was a flagrant contravention of the unspoken agreement between us. I had a good mind to turn to Ava and say:
“Ava, that Daddy has a bloody cheek speaking to me like that.”
But I didn’t.
Instead it struck me as weird that he would choose today as the first time to say that, and a little sad that we won’t see him next week. Or maybe ever again. So as he walked out, I found myself saying a silent goodbye to him, inside my head.
How many other unexpected goodbyes will there be, and from where?
I’ll try to take notice and appreciate the characters who play a background role in my life in London, because they won’t be a feature very soon.
Outside my nearest Tesco there’s a red-faced drunk who growls at the locals. If you’re driving through the area, and you happen to catch me full-on embracing him, this blog post will explain all.
But please bring a tetanus shot in your car, just as a precaution.