Distant Relations

Today, I discovered my father’s on Facebook. I wasn’t sure it was him, at first—I’ve not seen him since I was a teenager. He’s aged, as have I. I doubt we’d recognise each other, passing on the street. His dog, though—his dog, I’d know anywhere: one of those, ah…big-eared buggers, not a Pharaoh hound, but that other kind. An Ibizan hound, maybe. That sounds right.

Anyway, I didn’t friend him. He always sounds uncomfortable, when I ring for Mother and get him. I’m not sure he’d want people knowing or suspecting we’re related. He’s a writer, too—only, while I ghost genre fiction for authors whose popularity has outlived their inspiration*, he does proper books. Academic ones, on the Viking age. Different worlds, sort of thing.

(Oh, my! A man just walked by with a Komondor—y’know, one of those dishmop dogs. I love those things.)

Speaking of my father, though, I was amused to find that one of his students had described him as “adorable and tiny” on ratemyprofessors.com. I’d forgotten I’m taller than he is. Height, there: I’ve bested him at something.

I jotted down an idea, a while ago, for a book about people stuck on a garbage shoal in the Pacific—just a great raft of crap riding the swells, and a few lost souls clinging on. There’d be albatrosses and more albatrosses, live ones nesting and shitting; dead ones with plastic in their guts. There’d be oil spills and seasickness, salt everywhere, and the inescapable stink of warm plastic. There’d be soap-opera drama, the sort you get when you’re lumped with the same few people, day in, day out, and not much to do—I’d call it “Garbage.” (I’m probably joking. Who would read that?)

Still, it’d be nice to compete with my father: a friendly contest, who could get the most sales. Something to talk about.

(Or I could simply try harder. To be friendly. Ahem.)


* Or, in some cases, for authors who never existed at all: it’s surprising, how many “writers” are brands, not people.