The Hidden Village of Aspergers

March 10, 2014

Avenging Angels

Angel, oh angel, here to brighten up my darkest day
Take me in your arms, protect me from my enemies
Oh deadly angel, oh angel, and when they’ve got me on my knees
When I’m just about to do the deadly deed, you rescue me

The song I chose for this blog post is the song I love the most by Space, because it was written by a man who was very close to his father, who wanted to write the kind of songs his father would like, and who coped with his father’s death by writing Avenging Angels. When I heard the story behind it, it made me feel comforted, to know that a singer I loved understood how I felt. Like Tommy Scott, I adored my dad, Andy Holmes. He was, and still is, one of my heroes. Like Tommy Scott, I feel as though my father is watching over me, from wherever he is now. I sometimes worry I’ll forget him, even with my ridiculous photographic memory, but I won’t. All I have to do to remember my dad is look in the mirror.

Those dark eyes, that nose, that acne-scarred, pockmarked skin (though his was worse), that unruly dark brown hair, that profile – all those I inherited from him. I like to think I got my writing ability from him as well, though I’d be happy if I was only one-tenth as talented as he was – he was a journalist for the Financial Times and edited a magazine called Power in Europe, as well as writing the odd article for Greenpeace on the side, and he was on the editorial team for Brig, the Stirling University student paper.

What does this have to do with Aspergers? Well, Dad’s death was the catalyst for my diagnosis, and to show you just what an impact it had on my life, I have to explain just what a big part of my life Dad was. He was, after all, half of me. I was always quite the daddy’s girl. I used to love playing board games with him and having him read to me and dancing around the kitchen with him to the Pogues. We shared a love of language and wordplay; he got me into Edward Lear’s limericks (the one about the bear always reminds me of him), and we had these characters to help teach me words and shapes. The one I always remember is Snoopy the Snake, with an opera ticket in his hat. He introduced me to greengages. He loved exotic fruit. In fact, he loved his food generally, although, like me, he was a pescatarian (no moral issues; he just didn’t like meat). He used to tell me outrageous lies about how haggises were birds with square heads, and I believed him. He wasn’t perfect. He had off days, just like any other parent. But I loved him. I loved it when he would come home from work and play with us, or when he’d take us to the park to give Mum some alone time, or when he’d take us to the cinema. I always associate Home Alone 2 with him, since it was the last film he took us to before he died. I loved Sundays in Hove Park, when Dad and Jack would play football and I’d mess around on the swings, or the time when Dad took me to his office and I met his colleagues and he took me out for lunch at a Mexican restaurant.  These are the memories I try to keep in mind, not the ones that came later, the hospitals, the cancer, the memory loss, the steroids that made him gain weight, my mum’s panic attacks, the horrible nursing home, the last time we saw him and he was barely capable of speech and had to point at pictures on a card if he needed food and so on. I still find it hard to reconcile the man lying in the hospital bed in Preston with the father I knew.

In Naruto, the manga from which this blog gets its name, Sasuke – the titular character’s rival – has a massive inferiority complex where his older brother Itachi, an immensely talented ninja, is concerned. Sasuke feels as though he is always living in Itachi’s shadow and that he will never feel good enough. Sometimes I feel like that with Dad. It’s not like my family constantly compare my achievements to his and find me lacking. Only I do that. I feel I’ve got to do something, anything, to make him proud of me, though my family tell me he would have been. He never lived to see Jack and I grow from little kids into teenagers and then adults, get our GCSEs, our A-Levels, our degrees. He never lived to see me diagnosed with Aspergers, though he was around when I was in the remedial PE classes, and I wonder how he would have felt if I had been diagnosed before his death. Would he have been in denial that his daughter had something wrong with her? Would he have done everything he could to ensure I got look after at school? It’s one of the things I will never know, so I can only guess. He certainly was never ashamed of me or treated me like a weirdo.

My dad had a lot of connections. He worked for both the Labour and Tory parties, though he was definitely an Old Labour sort of man, and when he died, the likes of Tony Blair sent us cards. I am not kidding. Loads of people – journalists, union reps, politicians – were at his funeral. I had no idea of the impact he had on people and even today, I’m still learning things about him. I watch his TV appearances and remember how I thought very little of it – to me, he wasn’t Andy Holmes, the energy expert, he was my dad. Recently, I went to visit my auntie Chris – Dad’s sister – and she showed me tons of photos of them when they were kids in Greenock. Last year, I went through a box of memorabilia Mum had kept – cards, the eulogy from his funeral, photos. A lot of tears were shed.

He was a warm, funny, intelligent man, a bit of a gentle giant, who loved his family and was loved by many, and it’s twenty-one years on, and I still miss him, but I will always be grateful for the nine years we had together.

1 Comment

  1. […] relationship 8. Influenza: getting ME 9. Life Of A Miser: managing money and other household things 10. Avenging Angels: relationship with my father 11. The Man: coping at work 12. Disco Dolly: festival tips 13. Fran In Japan: role models outside […]

    Pingback by An announcement | The Hidden Village of Aspergers — March 10, 2014 @ 11:35 pm


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