Five Facts About Robert Darrow by Paula Harmon
Today I am pleased to welcome Paula Harmon on to the blog with a guest post about one of her characters; Robert Darrow!
Five Facts About Robert Darrow
In 2017, I published ‘The Cluttering Discombobulator’ – one man’s fight against order, common sense and boredom.
The main protagonist Robert Darrow, seen through the eyes of his daughter Laura (and sometimes through his own) is not a man to let being sensible get in the way of… well, anything really. As far as Robert is concerned, provided you always display good manners while doing it, having fun is more important than being responsible.
Five things about Robert which are not in the book but which maybe explain him a tiny bit:
He has itchy feet
Free time is for travelling and exploring. When one horizon gets too familiar, look for another. The trouble is, things tend to go wrong. When he was a teenager (in the 1950s), Robert started a cycling club. It was almost impossible for Laura to imagine him doing anything so organised but he did. Once, on the way back from a day trip, the cyclists found their bit of west London engulfed in fog. Robert, gentleman even in youth, took the last member home very slowly, holding her hand so that she felt safe. He was rather affronted when the girl’s father tore him off a strip for keeping her out so late. She wasn’t even his girlfriend. When he had teenagers of his own, he arranged a day trip to Ireland on the Fishguard to Rosslare ferry. He failed to note the fact that on the day he chose, their destination Wexford was on early closing and would shut down entirely about ten minutes after their arrival, leaving them with nothing to do until the bus took them back to the ferry. Then there was the time in Eastern Europe when he shared a car with a pig…
If you put him in nothing but his underwear and without belongings into an empty room, he’d mess it up in five minutes.
Robert feels exposed when he is not surrounded by stuff. Mostly books. If he had to choose between books and food, he would be in a terrible dilemma. His wife Bella in desperation, once gave a whole bookshelf of his books to a charity shop without his knowledge. A week later, he bought them back without realising they had been his own in the first place. ‘I thought I’d lost them,’ he said. ‘Rude words’ said Bella. He had a favourite set of old clothes which he used as a tramp’s costume whenever fancy dress was called for. When their children were small, Bella handed these over to Laura to make into a guy one year and Robert didn’t notice, even when he was lighting the bonfire. Next time he wanted to dress up however, he bought some shiny material, painted his face green and went as Ming the Merciless.
Holidays with Robert were never dull
Foreign holidays didn’t really happen for Laura when she was a child, despite many promises. All the same, a week or two in a caravan when it rained didn’t matter when Robert brought a new craze to try. If he didn’t have his family making models out of clay or corn dollies out of straws, he was running story competitions and taking them on quests to look for fossils or semi-precious rocks or dragons. Laura can’t help feeling the last two are only slightly more elusive than the fossils. It’s surely just a matter of knowing where to look.
Robert eats anything
Well, except for tripe and snook. Anything else however is fair game. Absolutely anything. He loves cooking and tries any cuisine regardless of whether he has the ingredients or not. Sometimes it works. Sometimes he drives Laura to write a (bad) haiku about it:
Without right ingredients
Robert is a little disappointed in how Laura has turned out
When did she get so serious? She used to go on dragon hunts and try his recipes. Now that she’s grown up, she tells him off for having fun. So what if he’s now in a wheelchair a lot of the time. It’s electric – he can drive it up steep slopes to take a better photograph can’t he? If it starts tipping backwards, surely Bella will manage. Somehow. Why did she get so annoyed when he rang her up to tell her he’d taken a photograph when Bella slipped in the snow? Honestly, where’s her sense of humour gone? How can he make his daughter lighten up? Perhaps when he takes part in that TV cooking show…