My father haunts us by lowering the level crossing gates.

He used to get so frustrated as my aunt lives just beyond a busy rail line into London, and it seemed every time he wanted to drive across… dingdingding, red lights flashing and Daddy would curse like a sailor.

“Bloody British Rail!” he’d roar as he skidded to a stop.

So now, whenever we get stopped, it’s his fault. I’ve taken to having discussions with him when it happens. Beloved is accustomed to my… ah… idiosyncrasies and rolls with it.

Me: God, Daddy, y’coulda let us through this ONCE.

Also me: But then you don’t talk to me. I miss you.

Me: aw, I miss you too! Heaps! How are you doing? How’s Abby? You keeping her weight in check? Not too much bacon, eh?

Me, deep voice: Awlrwight, I sup’ose. I miss your moth-tha. She joining me any time soon?

Me: nope! Suck it up, Daddy-o. We’re keeping her as long as we can. Go talk to Uncle Bryan (his bestie, whose wife, Maggie, we’re hoping to see this hols).

Me, deep voice: Hrrrumpf. He ‘s an old grouch without Maggie. But we do awlrwight, decent leather armchairs and the dogs join us in the evening. Good god, do you remember Dougie the rat dog? Bwah, ee’s same as ee woz. And Bryan has dozens of bloody dogs at ‘is feet each night. Abby an’ Kippers (his dog when he was a boy) and I sit quite comfortably but I still have to lift Abbs up to sit behind me. She doesn’t like skidding on the leather.

My little puppy in heaven.

Me: it’s not because you made her all fat, is it?

Me, deep voice: I don’t know what you’re talking about. Train’s gone now, kiss you moth-ah for me and tell her to hurry up! Love you Tickie.

Me, stupidly trying not to cry: love you too, Daddy.

Beloved just listens and holds my hand.

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