Shazia Mirza: Diary of a disappointing daughter

When I ring my parents’ house and my dad answers the phone, the­ conversation goes like this, “Hi Dad, how are you?”

“I’m fine. I’ll just get your mum.”

He then tells me what he’s doing while he transports the portable phone to my mum. “The last time I saw her, she was in the bathroom. I don’t know where she is now. But these stairs are getting more difficult. I’ve just cleaned the kitchen”.

Then I’ll hear him shouting, “Mum, Mum, it’s for you.” They call each other Mum and Dad, which may have been cute 40 years ago but, in these times, it’s creepy.

My dad is a character. He could pass for anything from a Pakistani Del Boy to Saddam Hussein. When we were growing up, he was very strict. He was authoritative, ­sensible and always ignored.

Regime change came only with his first heart attack. He has mellowed with age and we have got to know him much better as he and we have got older. Now he even sends text messages to tell me Dad-related things, such as “Uncle John [who is not really my uncle] has just opened a new business on Broad Street – he’s doing well. But his son has been banged up for fraud.” I have never even met “Uncle John”.

My dad’s favourite pastime is ­shopping at Tesco. He loves going there late at night and buying cakes. When I go home, he’ll say, “I’ve got you the latest chocolate cake. Tesco had an offer, so I bought you six. It’s his way of saying, “I know you well.”