24th April 2020

Darling Paloma,

It may be time for you to know about some of my flaws. Not listed in one letter but over the coming weeks before you get here. I don’t want you to think I’m the perfect dad. I know I can’t be even though I will try. I can get grumpy at times and I’m a little set in my ways. Those are two for starters. I spent half of my life living alone before I met your mother so I’m bound to be moderately self-centred. But I’m sure your brother would say that I’m a good loving caring dad but there are things which trigger me. Nothing major but things. Like I’m not good at getting into line or queueing as we call it in England. I’m impatient.

This is not good news during these particular days as there are lines outside most of the stores.

My local baker is to the left of the gastropub.

And there are some I can’t avoid. The first and most important is my morning coffee! Closely followed by the line outside the baker to pick up my specially made slightly burnt croissant.

There were five people outside the baker today. Each standing to attention and shuffling uneasily. The person two ahead of me was blowing his long nose. What a nose! What noise! Like a soda syphon running out of water. A woman directly in front had the hiccups. Hic Haec Hoc not once but a hundred times. “Put your head between your legs dear and hold your breath,’ I muttered and when she turned thinking I had said something. I gave her a polite innocent smile. The man second in line was sneezing. Again not once but several times. I saw particles hit all over the back of the neck of the man in front at lightning speed. He at least had the decency to put a paper tissue to his nose. The man in front was too excited to notice as he was finally being called in. I was about to say something to the sneezer like ‘ Go home and stop spreading the disease,’ when a man in his fifties in green Nike tracksuit, jogged straight to the shop door and stepped right in. Christ what is going on! All this is bad enough but queue jumping was not going to happen on my watch. I opened the door and called him out. ‘ Hey, what do you think we are doing out here. Waiting to have a piss?’

‘Watch your language please?’ he said walking out of the shop. Everyone turning away pretending they had not heard or seen anything. He was vaguely familiar. The sort you mistake as someone you’ve known for years but is, in fact, the person who presents the early evening news. I’ve experienced that one.

‘I suppose you’d like us to be treated like cattle. Perhaps have an electric wire to keep us in order. ‘ He said.

God! Where did that come from?. ‘ No just common manners and perhaps a piece of paper pinned to the door saying: ” IF YOU JUMP THE LINE, YOU WILL NOT BE ASKED BACK.’ I replied.

He retreated to the back of the line huffing and puffing with infuriating self-pity . By the time I’d reached the front, two queues were building behind me. One for men and the other for women as if they were waiting to go into separate bathrooms. Some even with masks on still considered it polite to make conversation. Mainly political and mainly about US politics rather than our own. Enough of this I thought just as I was about to be called in. I decided to leave my croissant for another day. I suppose that’s my second big fault, I lack a certain amount of patience. Told you there were going to be a few admissions.

Before I left, I paused, waited for an apology but nothing came so I said finally and very softly to the ” news presenter, ‘ have yourself a good day.’

He ignored my gesture of goodwill.

Te Quiero mucho,

Papa

Published by Simon Astaire

Simon Astaire was the youngest agent ever employed at ICM starting the Music department and representing a variety of clients before turning to head a PR agency where his clients included brands such as Bulgari, Armani and celebrities and members of the Royal Family. He is regularly quoted in the press and has been described in The London Times as a PR Prince. He had a regular column in the Sunday Telegraph called Station to Station where he interviewed a diverse mixture of high-profile individuals on their imaginary last train journey. He has written six novels and two biographies including soccer star Sol Campbell when he was nominated for best new sports writer. His latest novel The Last Photograph, was made into a film of the same name. It had a US theatrical release in November 2019 and is now available on all platforms. His blog ' Letters to my daughter' began March 19th 2020.

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