Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Love But No Affection

Isn't it amazing how real memories can be.
I can close my eyes and I'm in our kitchen, aged just about two, sitting in a high chair, my eldest sister spinning pennies for me on my tray.
I can visualise the Iona Hotel in Rosslare where we holidayed when I was seven or so, a little English girl called Lesley who reminded me of Hayley Mills and a man who left the roof of his sports car down when it rained torrentially.
I can taste the soft drinks which used to be sold from a lorry on the street when I was a child.
And I can smell my father as I clambered onto his knee so that I could kiss him goodnight and he could brush his five o'clock shadow off my cheek, tickling me and hugging me before I went off to sleep.
We were what people called a 'kissy' family.
We were tactile, we hugged and we kissed when we were saying hello and we hugged and kissed when we were saying goodbye.
Even as a teenager, we never left the house without offering a kiss to our mother and father.
(Of course, kissing your mother and father in public during the teenage years wasn't really that cool. However, once over that difficult period, the kissing resumed.)
Joan Armatrading had a song, once, called Love and Affection.
There's little doubt, that the members of families, in general, love each other.
But not too many have that affection which, in a way, marked us out.

I hope my daughter is as tactile as we were when we were children and, indeed, older.
In the modern world, tactility can result in raised eyebrows.
Grown men propping children on their knees and hugging them. Is it ok?
Of course it is. It's affection. It's love. It's family.
I can think of nothing that give me more joy, more happiness, more peace than when my little girl clambers onto my knee and lies back, her head on my chest, to watch something on television or for me to read to her.
When she leans forward and offers a kiss, it's like winning the lottery - it's certainly something I wouldn't swap for a lottery win.
There is lots of love in the world, of course there is.
But there seems to be a desperate shortage of affection.
Not that I'm suggesting you hug the person next to you on the bus or train.
Unless, of course, it's your mother or father.

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