Now on something like his fifteenth year since retirement my Dad has fallen into a rather organised life that includes spending what feels (to me) like fifty odd weeks a year out of the country. You know what it's like, you get to the point where you forget what they look like.
Anyway, having no work commitments, and a place abroad, he is able to pick and choose his holiday dates to fit in with what ever he chooses. He (understandably) has no interest in hanging around the UK in the winter so has six weeks or so abroad before Christmas then the same again after New Year. In order to miss as few games as possible, still too many in my view (especially when I have to go on my own in below freezing temperatures - and we still lose) he breaks that six weeks up into slots to make as many of the Saturdays abroad when we are away. The year we were relegated he even flew home from an extended holiday in Tenerife for twenty four hours to see the Sheffield United game. What a terrible life eh?
Sadly, one consequence of having extended holidays is that you are inevitably going to miss a few games. This season that number has been a record breaking eight games, including the Palace win last week. In order to compensate we have done a few away games over the years to make up for it. Cardiff away this season was one of those. For me this is actually a bonus. I go out of my way (only ever so slightly) on my way to The Valley each game so that we can drive up together. Naturally I love all my family, but my best friend (excluding my four year old) is my Dad. Thus adding an hour or so and a few miles on match day is a very small price to pay.
However away games, by their very nature, mean a longer journey in the car. This is the bonus for me. Don't get me wrong I have no real fears that me Dad is going to die any time soon, so I'm not going out of my way to ensure that I make use of every last minute. It is just (and probably always was) the reason for going to football. It is something that a father and son can do together.
I have lots of hopes and aspirations in life and many of those concern my own son. Putting aside health issues which are always paramount, my main hope is that he and I can be as close in the years to come as I am with my Dad, that he becomes as engrossed in football, and Charlton in particular, as the two generations above him are.
Clearly, the best possible scenario would be that my son starts his love affair with Charlton long before my Dad stops going. I don't think there is any reason for him to choose to stop going, but obviously we, none of us, live for ever. I really hope that when my Dad's name appears on that big screen on one of our minute's applause, I am there with my son to watch it together. Obviously I hope this is many, many years away.
Anyway, I'm getting off the subject. The latest holiday was a three and a bit week break in Tenerife (the holiday home). The flight out was booked for the day after the Forrest game, and the flight back was yesterday, the day before Cardiff were due at The Valley.
Now I don't want to sound spoiled, or jealous, but after having to fight through the snow and ice taking my son to and from school all last week, and the cold afternoons and evenings that I've been to The Valley on my own, maybe someone was trying to tell him something?
When it comes to the bad weather affecting your life and your plans, you can run, but you cannot hide.
Welcome home Dad!