This week my world changed forever, well almost. Thanks to some bureaucrat in Dubai I have a reprieve. At least until next week, when the daughter will arrive. I've done some pretty outrageous things in my life; jumped out of an aeroplane with a faulty parachute and driven through a communist state riddled with Russian troops and wandered into places in Africa at night that look like scenes from The Lord of War. But raising a fifteen-year-old daughter, in London, feels like my most insane idea yet.
No doubt I feel this way because my teenage years were something akin to Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. It's a wonder I survived. But I'm here now, and it's my turn.
I remember the night I first broke the news to friends here in London. We were drinking wine in Lindsay's new kitchen.
"Guess what everyone," I said. "Courtney is coming to London!" "How are you feeling?" Lindsay asked. "Like I'm going to need a lot more wine."
She and I had been partners in crime since we were the same age as Courtney.
"I'm not sure I want to bring up a young girl in this city," I said. "Do you see the papers? It's murder and mayhem out there every day. She's a bright girl, but this is a big, nasty city."
"Ha, ha, ha. Now you know what it's like to bring up a teenage daughter," said Dick taking another drink of his wine through a smug grin.
"Good God man. Your daughter was as bad as I was. We're both lucky we survived that time."
"Don't worry hon, between us we know all the trick in the book," said Lindsay. "She'll be okay here."
I'm wasn't convinced, daughters have a way of manipulating fathers. Hell, just look at Lindsay and her father. She certainly pulled a few moves on him. Worse yet, how Courtney came to be moving to London.
"Dad, I want to come live with you," says the daughter. "You can't speak Italian. That means I'll need to move to London." "Okay." "When would you like to do this?" "Now." "So, you're saying I need to move to London now?" "Yes." "Can it wait a few months?" "No." "Okay love, I'll start packing."
Next thing I know, I'm living in London. Some place along the northern line called Collywood. Just another human in the daily ebb and flow of the city, paying upward of £4 a beer.
Yet. While I write this post, in a living room piled with boxes. I raise my head and stare out the window. Outside the rooftops of the row houses line the street, and beyond the grey London sky. And I smile to myself, knowing the daughter will bring the sunshine to our home and stars to Collywood.
See you next week daughter!