Belfast Telegraph

Notes from my best selling goggle book

By Frances Burscough

I'm thinking of writing a book. It will be based on actual conversations with my dad Frank over the last year while I've looking after him at the old family home. Just to remind you about Francis Burscough the First; he's an 84-year-old retired dentist. He's a widower (mum died 10 years ago), he's got a bad back and two replacement hips, plus a heart by-pass, so doing anything very active is out of the question. As a result he had to give up two of his favourite activities - playing golf and hill walking - a long time ago. His other favourite activity, drinking whisky, was banned by the doctor because of all the medications he's on. He no longer drives, because he kept forgetting where he'd parked the car and then came home on the bus. As for his memory, well it's getting noticeably shorter every passing day. He's also partly deaf too now, which means that socialising is also a bit of a problem. He does have hearing aids, but he's selective about when he wears them. For example he'll happily put them on when family members come round to visit so he can hear them, but he always "forgets" to put them in when he goes to Mass so he doesn't have to listen to the sermon.

So you could say that his lifelong pleasures have been severely curtailed by the assorted symptoms of old age and the domino effects of dementia. But there is one thing that he does everyday, come rain or shine, without fail and with a great deal of gusto. And that is to complain about the telly.

So the working title for my book is Watching Telly With My Dad and it will be a bit like a cross between Gogglebox, Only Fools and Horses and Grumpy Old Men, but in book form.

Here below are just a few notes I have made from recent conversations in preparation, but they come with a parental advisory warning. My dad is a proper Northerner, so he calls a spade a bloody spade... or frequently worse. So I've "bleeped out" anything that readers may find offensive.

On Michael Jackson: Last Saturday dad became inexplicably transfixed with a documentary on telly about Michael Jackson. He watched it intently for half an hour while I sang along to the songs in the background "This Michael Jackson; you've obviously heard of him before... I've never heard of him, but he's a funny looking *bleeper* alright isn't he?"

On Marlon Brando: Similarly, a few weeks earlier, he'd become equally fascinated by a programme called Marlon Brando: In His Own Words.

This was a very in-depth interview with the star about his life and career from the point of view of an analyst's couch. Brando was born in the same year as my dad and so I assumed he was able to relate to some of the things the man was saying. It lasted a whole hour and dad was silent throughout. As the closing credits rolled, dad turned to me and said: "What a load of bloody rubbish. Marlon bloody Brando, eh? Who gives a *bleep* about Marlon Brando, anyway?"

On Scottish Independence: Dad and I were at the hearing aid clinic and on the telly in the waiting room there was a news bulletin in which Nicola Sturgeon and Theresa May were involved in a heated discussion about Scottish Independence. "Just look at those two sour-faced old *bleeps*" dad said, very loudly (his hearing aid needed new batteries). "I wouldn't touch either of 'em with a barge-pole!" Everyone in the waiting room laughed.

Football: During every televised match, ever, he says "In my day, every player was local. Tom Finney played for Preston North End and he was Preston born and bred. That's just as it should be. Nowadays they're all foreign *bleepers* !What the *bleep* does Pep *bleep* Guardiola have to do with *bleeping* Manchester?

On Bargain Hunt: "See these *bleepers* on these antiques programmes? They've never done a day's work in their lives. All they do is buy and sell, buy and sell, in a closed market. What's the *bleeping* point of that? I wouldn't mind, but the stuff they buy and sell is just old junk you wouldn't even reach into a skip to get for free!" Etc etc etc.

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