Own two feet


It all happened so fast.

First an email asking if I would be interested in filming a small piece about fatherhood.

Then there was a phone call. This turned into a mini interview with an assistant producer from Channel 4’s ‘4Thought’ programme – the series of two minute pieces they show after the news.

Then there was some to-ing and fro-ing, over dates and whether the filming would be in London or Manchester.

Then I was on a train heading to Manchester with my girlfriend Clea, and my son Dylan.

If I’m honest, I never really stopped to think through what I was doing properly. My only real thoughts and concerns were for my own parents, especially my dad.

When I told my mum in the kitchen on one of her weekly visits to my flat, she broke down. ‘I’m still so ashamed’ she wept.

‘Mum we’re not those people anymore,’ I said trying to fix the moment. But we both knew we were still those people or, at least, that we still carried those people within us.

The boy who couldn’t understand why nobody wanted him. The mother who was afraid of what she might do to the boy if he stayed: ‘I know you have to do this, I just wish things were different’.

My mum has fought a war with herself ever since she made that decision, twenty five years ago.

I have watched from the sidelines, unable to help her because ultimately this is a civil war, and only she can call the truce that will end it.

I have tried to let her know, while I can never quite understand how she came to that decision, I can somehow, in some way, appreciate it.

I know her story and I lived some of that story and the truth is I think she is amazing to still be here. Scarred and weary, still struggling at times, she is an inspiration everyday.

But she would never accept that.

I didn’t tell my dad about the programme until after I had filmed it. I was afraid. Not of him, but for him. Together, over the last few years, we have built bridges that have become strong.

We have built something brand new together. We couldn’t fix what had passed, but we could make something new and we did. Since my son was born this has only got stronger and, at the same time, he has softened.

He is vulnerable. He is human. He’s my dad.

I wanted to protect him as he is now, but I knew I had to talk about him as he was then.

I knew talking about the past would be difficult for all of us. As I lay in the bath that night after filming, I decided to phone him. He listened as I told him about the programme and how I had been approached.

I felt like I was stabbing him in the back. He had changed. We had changed. It felt like I was digging up the past, but at the same time I wanted to tell a small part of my story and his story: a story of change and resolution.

After I stopped talking there was a pause. ‘It’s ok’ he said ‘we’re all in harmony now’. A weight lifted off of me.

When the programme was filmed I spent 30 minutes in a chair talking about being in care, my dad, how I found Jesus for a bit as a substitute for a dad and then I talked about being a dad myself.

The whole thing was a blur.

Before the interview, I asked that they make sure that they included that my dad and I were in a very different place now, but they didn’t. As expected, 30 minutes was cut down to under 2 mins, but in the edit my dad was left battered and bruised.

Bits and pieces I had said to balance the story were now missing. I felt my story had been twisted, but at the same time I was proud of the piece as a document. At the end they showed my girlfriend and my son, and the experience of filming it together is a memory of now that we can cherish and protect.

I was worried, after seeing the film, about my dad. But he took it on the chin with a joke about how it being an ‘assassination’.

As I sit here now typing this out I think he is completely right, but probably not in the way he meant it.

It was an assassination. The man I talk of as my father in that film is dead. People do change. Families that are broken can be remade different, remade anew.

We still carry all the bumps and bruises and we still carry the people that we were. But I don’t hold onto this past because although that is somewhere I have been, it is not where I am now.

I dedicate this blog to my mum and dad. Thank you for living the change that it is so important for us all to believe in.

The 4thought piece is available to watch online.

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4 Comments so far
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You’re writing is soo beutifull. Thank you for been an inspiration.

Xxamy (Aaron’s friend)

Sent from my iPhone

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Comment by Amy Agyekum

Another great, moving blog from you. How you and your patents have managed to form such strong new relationships is inspiring and all 3 of you should be so proud. The film was great and it was a shame they edited the parts you so wanted to keep but it didn’t show your dad in such a bad light, only a confused one. When he came, he really came to see you and spend time with you. That mattered to you both.
Keep them coming, you have a beautiful talent.

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Comment by Sue Oak

i know, form experience, that when you do something that goes public whether it’s in print, on paper or the ether, or on radio or tv, you can’t help but think afterwards about how it affects you and yours. you wonder about how your family or friends will feel about it, and you react to how those around you respond. and for that reason of course you wince at what was left out or how what was left in seems because of an inevitable truncation. but what you often do not at first consider is how it may seem to those who see, read or hear it and who may really, really need your insight, your story and your reassurance. i saw the film when it was shown on C4. i was bowled over. i saw the humanity, the hope, the sheer joyfulness of the future you, your son and his mother will have together. i didn’t see a criticism of either of your parents but an acknowledgement of how hard it can be and well you are now doing, which in itself is a tribute to them. you did really good because you spoke to and for so many men who want to be good fathers and can. be proud. it was straight from your heart to them, as a committment and a rally call, not a swipe at anyone in the past. Bravo!!!

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Comment by suzie hayman

I know that this is your experience…but this blog post made me feel nauseous. Lots of abusive parents are encouraged to get in touch with their children in care…and likewise children are encouraged to get in touch with their parents. Trauma is repeated and children are left confused, as there are no adults who will tell them simply that…YOUR PARENTS ARE NOT YOUR PARENTS..and yes, IDEALIZING THEM IS A HUMAN INSTINCT…but ultimately, you are autonomous, love yourself and stop yourself from running after broken pipe dreams.

We live in a society where children are betrayed by adults. We live in a society where we are taught to idealize those adults.

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Comment by H




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