The Tell-Tale Sign of His Jaw


My Dad was a very quiet man
Who rarely lost his rag,
He worked in a gun-making factory,
All he asked was to smoke his fag
Or to read the ‘Sports Argus’
Or listen to the wireless,
He didn’t ask for much in life
Just enough money to provide for us.
Each Friday evening he’d come home
And present Mom with his pay,
She’d take out what she’d need to shop
Then pass pocket money his way.
My Dad was a staunch ‘Labour’ man, Mom a devoted ‘Tory’,
She and her family were ‘a united front’,
I could often hear their war games.
As I snuggled down in my bed at night,
Secretly proud of Dad’s solo fight,
As he argued what he thought was right
Long, long into the night!
Though I knew nothing of their talk
Because he fought alone,
I was always on his side
And his arguments I’d condone.
We visited Grannies each weekend
Gathering round the gramophone
And sang our favourite songs of the day –
But Dad always seemed so alone.
From my hiding place under the table I saw
(As I peeped from under the table cloth)
The tell-tale sign of Dad grinding his jaw
(Something I’d seen many, many times before)
And I willed him and willed him to stop!
Was he intimidated by their united front?
Why wasn’t he comfortable in their home?
Or did he feel inferior because he didn’t fight on the front,
Was that why he felt so alone?
I wish I’d asked him at the time,
It’s only in hindsight we see
That our parents are just ordinary folk,
With their own insecurity.
My Dad has been dead now for many a long year
(Since nineteen eighty four)
Why is it only now that I question
The tell-tale sign of his jaw?