I went to town the other day with my dad.
“What do you need in town?” he asked, conversationally.
“Bits and bobs – stuff for tired eyes from Superdrug, and I need my photo doing for my passport,” I said as we left the car in Sainburys car park and pottered companionably towards the high street.
“Righto,” he said.
We got to WHSmiths, and I stopped.
“Let’s go in here to get my photos,” I said, and in we went. As I approached the photo machine I stopped, and turned to Dad.
“Do you have any change?” I asked. He thought about it, and shook his head, then picked up a magazine.
“I’ll go and ask that lady,” I told him, and trotted off. She gave me change, and I ducked into the booth, after checking that Dad was still happily perusing. After a couple of attempts I ended up with the obligatory passport photo that makes me look a lot like a murderer, and went looking for Dad. He was nowhere to be seen. I walked through each aisle whistling like a shepherd (my dad actually trained my sister and I to answer to a certain type of whistle, that we now all use to locate each other. Handy but people look at you a bit weird when you utilise it) but he’d vanished. As I queued to pay for some interesting looking stationery (surely no-one has ever been able to leave WHSmith without purchasing some kind of interesting looking stationery, it’s physically impossible) I called him.
“Where are you?” I said, when he picked up.
“Where am I?” he asked. “Where are YOU?”
“In WHSmith,” I replied, after a small pause. “Where are you?”
“Hang on, I’ll come and find you.”
I was baffled, and then suddenly he was beside me, looking relieved.
“Where’ve you been?” I asked.
“Where’ve I been?” he asked. “Where’ve YOU been?”
A pattern was obviously forming.
“I’ve been here, getting my photo done…”
Dad rolled his eyes.
“You could have told me! I’ve been in Superdrug!”
There was another small pause.
“Why’ve you been in Superdrug?” I asked.
“You disappeared!” he cried. “I looked everywhere, and then I looked in Superdrug, and then I thought, well, that’s that then.”
“What do you mean, ‘That’s that then’?”
“Well, you’d gone. Vanished.”
I pondered this.
“So… I’ve been kidnapped, or taken to hospital, and you thought, ‘Well, that’s that then’?”
Dad shook his head.
“No, no – I was worried.”
I felt a bit better, until he continued,
“You’ve got the ticket to get out the car park.”
“So,” I said. “Your issue was not, ‘where is my daughter, I hope she’s okay’, but was rather ‘how do I get my car out the car park now my daughter has vanished’?”
Dad thought about it.