Yesterday morning, Jack took Delph for a walk with Fin along the seawall. Dogs are banned on Borth beach during the summer up to the big Georgian terrace block. Then they’re good to go.
At this point in the walk, Jack had finished giving Delph a little talk about kindness. He’s good with Delph – better than me for sure. When I told him the that I was considering disowning her at worst and digging a large hole to lie in for myself at best (dramatic – who me?), he responded with, ‘Well, yeah duh, she has had a brain injury. I’d be pissed off too if I had one.’
I sighed. The old brain injury story. I’m sure no one would feel that sorry for me if I had a brain injury. I am joking – I hope you all do feel sorry for me. But still, there is no one who can pull out the compassion daughter card like a dad can. And Jack’s card is swirly with lots of glittery hearts.
Fin went down onto the beach stones.
’Hey! You can’t let your dog onto the beach!’
They turned around. The shouter had his own dog on a lead. The dog was small and ratty and yapping at them.
Jack said, ‘Sorry, but who are you?’
The man huffed and said, ‘Someone who pays their taxes.’
What exactly taxes had to do with I still don’t understand. But Jack did understand something. ‘Judging from your accent,’ he said, ‘I bet you moved here about five years ago, didn’t you?’
The man didn’t argue.
Jack continued more softly, ‘You’ve joined that Borth Facebook group and now you think you’re more local than anyone else is. Well, I’ll tell you something you don’t know. I’ve lived in this village all my life and I’ll not be told by you where I can let my dog off. And for your sake, I should warn you that if your dog doesn’t stop yapping, my dog is coming to come off this beach and eat it, because my dog doesn’t like little yapping assholes any more than I do.’
‘Yeah,’ Delphine jumped in, ‘so fuck off!’
Now, Jack’s normally a man of certainty but at this point, he found himself suddenly unsure. From the look of her, Delph wasn’t backing down either. Her face was screwed up with a mixture of loyalty, fierceness and enjoyment. For her, this man had just come along at the exact right moment to take her own frustrations out on.
Jack would later tell her maybe she shouldn’t swear at strangers, but right then she was an ally. A warrior. The kid that Grandpa said she was. He said it when she was just six-weeks old. ‘That kid is going to be tough,’ he’d said to me when I first brought her round. ‘Look at the way she’s looking at everything.’
I’d looked down at this baby with puzzlement. How did he know? Delph was still tiny, underweight for her age group and her right eyelid was still swollen and puffy from being born. I guess she did have her eyes open. For whatever reason, Grandpa had called it then… and I think he was calling it now too. This man with his little tapping dog had come at exactly the right moment to remind us. Hmm. Not just feathers blowing in?
Anyhow, the man didn’t give them any more grief. Might have helped that Jack hit him with a few more expletives after Delph’s outburst. By then he was also riding his own distracted pleasure wave. ‘You see this house?’ he said, pointing down our driveway. ‘I want you to know where I live so you never have to look down this driveway. Or at me or my daughter or my dog when we see you again. Now you go write that on your Facebook group page.’
The man perhaps unsurprisingly nodded. And he was off.
They watched him and his now quiet dog hurry down the sea wall. ‘You know, Delph,’ Jack said, putting his arm tenderly around her shoulders, ‘next time we see that guy, we should say no hard feelings to him.’
Some people might not understand this. But Delphine did. She understood completely.