For Father’s Day yesterday, the daughter decided that what the husband really wanted to do was go out for waffles for brunch, then run around the really big park with the pond and the good playground. She was, of course, pretty much right. At least, after I’d explained to him that, yes, Father’s Day did mean he had to spend the day with his child, if he wanted presents.
I wasn’t with my own father yesterday, although I spoke to him at length and sent whiskey, and will be celebrating with him next weekend, so I think he was happy enough. My brothers were both there, along with my nephew, and I believe brunch may also have featured in their plans.
But while I watched the husband push the daughter on the swings for a solid fifteen minutes, I got to thinking about the fathers in my Love from Wales books, and how different they are.
In Room for Love, Carrie’s dad is worried for her, hoping to stop her from making unnecessary mistakes, and desperate to help her out. Carrie, however, is just as determined to do things herself, and her own way.
But Mia in An A to Z of Love has a very different problem with her dad. And actuall, she has no desire to see him again, ever, after he skipped town with the school secretary and the contents of the local museum safe when she was fourteen, leaving Mia and her mum to deal with the fallout.
Fourteen years later, all Mia wants is for people to forget that she’s George Page’s daughter. But from the first pages of the book, it’s obvious it’s not going to be that easy…
An A to Z of Love
People could say what they liked about Welsh seaside towns, but in Mia Page’s opinion, there weren’t many better ways to start a June day than walking barefoot on the beach.
Shoes in hand, she wriggled her toes against the dry sand and stared out over the glistening waves, cheerfully ignoring the line of dead jellyfish left behind by the retreating tide. Even at eight thirty in the morning, the salt air was already filling with the familiar seaside scents of frying chips and a hint of sugary rock.
Mia turned slowly around, surveying her domain. The caves, just up the coast, where A to Z Jones’s smuggler gang were said to have hidden, back in the day. The lighthouse on the cliff above, and beside it the tumbledown lighthouse keeper’s cottage she’d dreamt of owning as a child. The Esplanade, with its dated hotels and faded guesthouses, spanning the length of the beach.
Her boss, attacking the postman on the Esplanade.
Mia gave her toes one last wriggle, put her shoes on and dashed up the stone steps from the beach to the town above. Ahead of her, Ditsy Levine, seventy-six and still spectacular, dressed in a shocking pink and green floral tea dress, had Jacques’ arm twisted up behind his back and was trying to prise a selection of envelopes from his hand. Jacques was not giving in easily.
“Ditsy, what on earth are you doing?” Mia grabbed the much older woman around the waist, more to steady her than stop her, since Ditsy looked about to topple over.
“Getting our post,” Ditsy said through gritted teeth, succeeding at last in peeling one of Jacques’ fingers out of the way.
Jacques, who’d arrived in Aberarian from France two months before Mia was born, twenty-eight years ago and still complained about the weather, was not the world’s most efficient postman. But he did have a system. He started his deliveries on the outer streets of the small seaside town and spiraled his way in to the center until he reached the post office again. Ditsy’s A to Z shop, being next door to the post office-cum-newsagents on the main street, was his last stop. Quite often, the workday had effectively ended by the time he handed Mia her mail.
“If somebody would employ a sensible delivery system,” Ditsy carried on, separating another finger from the letters, “I wouldn’t have to resort to such actions.”
“Fine, fine!” Jacques finally released the post, and the sudden action caused Ditsy to jerk backward, pushing Mia against the railing separating the Esplanade from the rocks leading down to the sandy beach. By the time she collected herself, leaving Ditsy settling her skinny frame onto a nearby bench and sorting through her mail, Jacques was rooting around in his inside pocket and pulling out another envelope. Ditsy made a disgruntled noise from the bench, obviously personally offended he’d kept any mail hidden from her.
“Since we’re ignoring any sense of order today, you might as well have this too.” Jacques shoved the letter into her hands. “It was addressed to your mother’s old house, but I would have brought it over to you.” He sounded hurt at the accusations thrown at him for doing his job in an orderly manner, and for a moment Mia wondered if he was hanging around for an apology from Ditsy, in which case she suspected everyone’s post would still be waiting to be delivered tomorrow.
Then she glanced down at the envelope. Written across the reverse flap was a return address: G E Page, 15 Cottle Way, Cottlethorpe, East Yorkshire. Well, at least she knew where dear old Dad had got to now. And it had only taken him fourteen years to write.