The other day, the kids and I were watching the finale of the third season of Topsy and Tim. It’s the one where it flash-forwards into the future, just as Topsy and Tim finish Year 1. It’s a fairly standard issue episode involving them losing their grandmother’s new dog.
The real drama of this episode happens shortly before then, however. Topsy and Tim see their friend Tony Welch on the swings and Tim runs over to him. Tim is harmlessly watching him when Tony’s dad bellows aggressively at Tim that Tim knows full well not to go near a swing when it’s in motion (ignoring the fact that Tim is such a wet blanket that he’d probably be too scared to go on the swings anyway). There is genuine anger in Tony’s dad’s voice and certainly far more than is appropriate for one half of the world’s most boring and sensible twins. What is at the root of that anger? What could possibly be the reason for a middle-aged man to feel such disdain for an otherwise harmless (if slightly dull) six year old? What event in his past could have borne such rage?
The change in Tony Welch’s dad’s demeanour, the moment that Topsy and Tim’s mum arrives, explains it all. As soon as she shows up, he’s instantly charming (although still not above having a thinly veiled dig at her son’s approach to playground safety and, by extension, Topsy and Tim’s mum’s ability as a parent, which he wouldn’t let happen if he were their father, thank you very much!). It is clear, I think you’ll agree, that Tony Welch’s dad has an obvious unrequited love for Topsy and Tim’s mum.
I assume that it’s a deeply suppressed love, which inappropriately manifests itself as anger directed towards the symbol of Topsy and Tim’s parent’s union: Tim (not Topsy though, Tony Welch’s dad isn’t a complete monster). Everyday it must feel like a knife cutting deep into Tony Welch’s dad’s heart, as he realises that the woman he loves will never be his and who is instead married to a man that looks like Lee Mack’s slightly thinner brother.
“Why?” he must weep to himself each night, “Why did she chose him and get two perfect twins while I end up with a son who, when he has a shaven head, looks like the offspring of Thomas Kish from The Hour?”
And while Tony Welch’s dad doesn’t lament his current life, after all he has a nice house, two children and a delightful wife, he does acknowledge that he suffers from a constant and unrelenting pain: the pain of regret. Regret that he told his wife, an otherwise perfect woman, that he loved her. Regret that he never had the courage to confess his love for Topsy and Tim’s mum. Regret, as he sits, weeping, in a dark corner of the attic as his fallen tears stain the ink of the love letters, hidden from view, that he never had the courage to send.
At least, I think that’s what the episode is about.
Dad in the Mancave
Moans from the Mancave: Topsy and Tim…and Tony Welch’s Dad? originally appeared in issue 171 of LINK magazine. Dad in the Mancave is a part-time teacher in Sheffield and full time dad.
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