The Courier of Dad

By David Medcalf

What's in it for me?

The question occurred as I plodded through the rain-sloshed streets of Our Town the other morning. What's in it for me? The heavens had opened. The Pooch was hauling on his lead to the point where he was close to dislocating my shoulder. My allegedly rainproof jacket was no such thing. What's in it for me?

I was responding to an SOS received by text from young Persephone, delivered in a style that harked back to the days of the old telegrams: 'Urgent. Drop PE bag to school soonest.' No room in this terse message for the forgotten sequence of five letters p, l, e, a, s and e. It really was as though the Post and Telegraphs would charge her an extra half a crown for stooping to common courtesy.

Texting dad is something resorted to only in cases of emergency. Such communications routinely contain demands for money or for lifts to out-of-the-way places at out-of-hours times. Normally she at least has the good grace to sign off with a heart-shaped emoji to win over a stern-hearted parent. In this case our daughter faced the prospect of detention and of scuffing her good shoes on the basketball court if she turned up for PE in school uniform. Such was her state of distress that she omitted the cute pink heart, and there was no smiley-face or thumbs-up either.

The forgotten bag was sitting in the hall at the front door of the Manor, cunningly positioned so that it was practically impossible to depart from home without it. Yet Persephone had managed to leave it there overlooked, bulging with malodorous runners and a selection of crumpled shorts, as she dashed off to class.

I picked up the bag and wondered what awful punishment is imposed on those who are put in detention for neglecting to do their homework or for failure to bring sports gear. I quietly cursed the policy which permits students to bring their mobile phones to school. Such apparatus should clearly be banned from all campuses, if only to spare parents the hassle of responding to calls for delivery of forgotten gear.

The Pooch and I slipped past the 'no dogs' sign at the front gates of Our Town College, proceeded to reception and dropped off the bag. Then we turned back along the driveway and headed off just as the shower began to ease and a rainbow arched over the hefty pile of Saint Bernadette's church in the distance on the far side of the river.

So, what's in it for me?

The Pooch shook the last of the rainwater from his fur and dropped back beside me, trotting along in companionable silence. No longer being pulled off balance at every stride, I once more pondered the question - what really was in all of this for me.

If our daughter is occasionally scatter-brained, then it really is not to be wondered at, though the scatter-brain gene did not come from her mother's side of the family. Her father is the one more than capable of clambering over items strategically positioned so that they cannot be overlooked and leaving them behind. Her father repeatedly fails to pack his packed lunches and may often be seen playing golf in inappropriate footwear after leaving his spikes at home in the hallway.

So, it is frankly a privilege to cover for Persephone whenever she finds that English class is looming and the essay she wrote for homework is on the kitchen table rather than in her satchel. It is all good. The walk is good for me. The walk is good for the dog. And the feeling of having done someone a good turn is good for morale. Good, good, good.

On reflection, I am happy to provide an emergency courier service, especially if the weather is dry. She is my princess and princesses are even allowed a little leeway occasionally whenever it comes to remembering their pleases and their thank-yous.

Just don't tell her I said so…

The prospect of buying the morning paper and tackling the crossword over a cup of tea put a pepinto my step as we hastened downhill. And The Pooch appeared eagerly all set to see whether he could dig up the crock of gold clearly waiting for us in the grounds of Saint Bernie's.

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