The Office Inbetweener

SOME GUYS JUST AREN'T CUT OUT FOR A 9 TO 5…

What I’d like to say to my father one day

My father was born and raised in Jaffna; a small, Tamil town in northern Sri Lanka. And like many Tamils of his generation, he was determined to leave from an early age; not just for a better life but for a safer one too.

He first came to the UK in 1970, armed with his suitcase and £50 in his pocket. And after an initially tricky period adapting to a new culture, a new environment, pretty much a new everything, he landed an assistant teaching role at the University of Bath.

In the years that followed he would obtain his PhD, essentially be forced to return to Sri Lanka to marry my mother (she wasn’t too enthralled about it at the time either), have three boys (of whom I’m the youngest) and take up employment with an American oil firm that saw the family bounce between Sri Lanka, Norway, Thailand and finally the UK, which we’ve called home since 1984.


I have mixed feelings about my childhood. For the most part it was a happy one. Don’t get me wrong, we were raised in a very safe, loving environment and we never went without. I was incredibly close with my brothers and had a great relationship with my mother. But I had no real connection with my father. The part he chose to play in our lives – as far as I could see – revolved around two things; education and discipline.

I get it now. He simply wanted the best for us and felt that that was the only way to achieve it. But as a kid this was very hard to understand. And of course this was also a reflection of how he himself was raised.

caning_LARGE

So true (fragbows.blogspot.com)

I never really knew my paternal grandparents but I gather my grandfather was particularly hard on my father. However he would also heap praise on him for his successes; of which there were many.

Unfortunately, this not only made ‘him’ extremely strict but also controlling and impossibly demanding.


He worked hard to send us to a private primary school. But being the type of man he is, from day one he was already thinking about our entrance exams to secondary school. Consequently, we were assigned additional work on an almost daily basis.

I remember the routine like it was yesterday. We’d come home from school. Have maybe an hour or two to act like regular kids before first completing our actual homework and then the additional assignments.

He’d make us stand in a line as he marked our work at the dining room table. Being the youngest, I had to wait and watch as he smacked my brothers for every mistake they made before he even got to me. And when I say smack, I don’t just mean a slap on the wrist.

It was usually across the face or the back of the head and it fucking hurt.

In today’s world a lot of people would be quick to call it abuse. And whilst I absolutely felt it was uncalled for, I wouldn’t classify it as such. But there is a fine line.

When I was about 8 or 9, I destroyed a telephone in his study as some form of protest against my mother. My punishment?

I was marched into the living room, made to take my shirt off and using the same cord I’d previously cut (doubled back on itself), I was flogged repeatedly across my back until my mother finally intervened. I counted 12 lashes before she stopped him. He definitely crossed the line.

And it was a shit phone!

And it wasn’t even a good phone (askville.amazon.com)

I fucking despised him after that. It wasn’t just the physical pain but the humiliation of it all. My maternal grandfather was living with us at the time and witnessed the entire thing.  But of course he said nothing as it was my father’s house. Plus that was also just ‘their’ way.

A few years ago I found out that when my father was a teenager, he and a cousin had snuck into another relative’s home and taken his motorbike out for a spin.

When they returned home, my grandfather tied ‘both of them’ around a tree – facing outwards, binding their wrists together – and proceeded to cane them across their entire bodies.

No child deserves that kind of punishment and I feel for the pair of them every time I think of that story. But that still doesn’t make what he did to me okay.

That incident was probably the only time I thought about running away seriously. I told one of my friends at school and he suggested calling ChildLine.

I packed a bag but only made it as far as the driveway. I didn’t call ChildLine either. As with all families; you make mistakes, you learn from them and you move on over time.

My father made a huge one that day. And whilst I’d be lying if I said that he never hit me or my brothers again, things were definitely different after that.

We’ve all moved on.


Given his academic achievements and the fact that we were ‘his children’, he placed an unbelievable amount of pressure on us. And in spite of our successes, we still usually felt like we’d failed somehow.

In 1993, I needed to score at least 230 in my 11-plus exam to gain entrance to the state funded grammar school he wanted me to attend. He was so embarrassed about my 232 that he lied to people about it.

A week earlier I’d received a full scholarship to a reputable private school (something neither of my brothers had done) and don’t forget, my score ‘was’ good enough to attend the grammar. Yet there I was at age 11, feeling like a useless, under-achieving piece of shit.

dunce cap

Did they really make kids wear these? (kizaz.com)

Fast forward ten years and nothing had changed. I studied Statistics & Economics at University College London, graduating with Upper Second Class honours.

From 2000 – 2003, UCL was ranked amongst the top 10, if not 5 universities in the UK. I’m not saying this to impress you. Personally I don’t care what university someone attended or if they attended one at all; as once you land that first job, it becomes fairly irrelevant. But some might say obtaining a 2:1 from UCL was a pretty good achievement.

My father thought I should’ve got a 1st and didn’t even come to my graduation. Admittedly he asked if I wanted him there but if he had to do that…

Long before I’d even gotten to that stage in my life, I was still considering which subjects to specialise in at school.

Now I’m not saying I would’ve made it as an actor. But when I mentioned to my father that the head of drama had specifically pulled me aside and asked me to seriously consider pursuing it further, his message was pretty clear:

“Music, art and drama are subjects for dreamers and certainly not for any son of mine.”

bollywood-actors2555

I could’ve got to wear a cool wife-beater like this guy
(allimagesatoneplace.blogspot.com)


To my father, professional success means one of two things; working for a firm or in a profession that garners instant respect/recognition. Or earning a shit load of money.

Though I guess I can’t really fault him for that as my oldest brother is earning annually what most people would struggle to see in their entire lifetime. And the other one is a fucking brain surgeon!

Like my dear friend Northern Monkey once said, “short of becoming Prime Minister or a super hero, I’m afraid you’re screwed mate.”

No thanks (the-libertarian.co.uk)

No thanks (the-libertarian.co.uk)

After graduating I didn’t know what I wanted to do; preferring instead to go travelling. But my father and oldest brother convinced me to apply for a Masters in Finance, as surely with one of those under my belt, the big banks would come knocking and all would be right with the his world?

That was probably the worst year of my life. I had no interest at all in the subject matter but at the same time, didn’t want to disappoint the old man. Yet again.

Some of you may be reading this thinking ‘why didn’t he just grow a pair and tell him how he felt.’ But in our family, that was a lot harder than you might think.

Ironically, there was a Tamil girl on the course who felt entirely the same as me and I encouraged her to speak to her father about it. She did; and subsequently dropped out after the first term. I didn’t and subsequently wasted a year of my life.

I eventually found work in the financial industry and though it ticked neither of his boxes and wasn’t at all what I thought I’d be doing with my life, I stuck with it and forged a pretty decent career for myself over the years.

Being financially independent from my father made it easier to deal with his disappointment but the problem was; I still had feelings of doubt. On a sub-conscious level; whilst it must seem crazy to you, there was still that need to finally obtain his approval. But the more pressing issue was: “was this how I wanted to spend the rest of my life?”

There’s a saying “there are those who work to live and those who live to work.”

I’d been married and had also owned a home. “Working to live” wasn’t for me. And so around two years ago I decided to quit my job.

Seeing this as an opportunity to wield his influence again, my father suggested applying for an MBA. Hell, he even offered to pay for classes to prepare for the GMAT.

But thankfully, with the encouragement of three of my closest friends, I finally grew those balls and spoke my mind. And using the money I’d been saving for that house society dictates I should buy, I eventually made that trip abroad.


That trip was a game-changer for both of us. Without question it was the best year of my life. And the two months I spent volunteering in a mountain village in India was probably the most meaningful, eye-opening period of my life.

I fully intend to go back one day and have even been asked to become a trustee of the charity. But I can’t commit to them fully until I’ve sorted out the other things in my head.

One of those ‘other things’ was a desire to write a book, which is something I wouldn’t have felt brave enough to discuss let alone attempt before. It’s also something that I’ve wanted to do since about 2009 but it was only whilst I was away that I started to really believe in it; writing my first story in that same village.

Buoyed by fellow travellers I was meeting along the way, I decided “fuck it, I don’t know how but I’m actually going to do this.”

Unfortunately people back home weren’t as receptive to the idea: “Is this a joke?” “Since when have you been interested in writing?” “What? Full-time?”

‘God only knows how my father was going to react’, I thought. His response blew me away.

A lot of you have probably formed pretty negative opinions about the man, which is only natural as I’ve only talked about my negative memories. I could list a bunch of positive ones but that’s fairly redundant as whilst I’m grateful to you for reading this (and I really am), he’s ‘my father’ and your opinion of him won’t change that.

What I will do however, is share what he said with you:

“This past year; reading your emails, listening to you talk about your experiences, I realised that I got it wrong all these years. I pushed you too hard to be someone who I wanted you to be instead of considering what was important to you.

The past is the past and there’s nothing I can do about that. But going forward I will support you, even if it’s something I don’t really understand. So fuck everyone who is questioning what you’re doing. You’re my son, not theirs. If you’re happy and this is something you really want to do, then do it. Just don’t fuck it up!

And you never know; if it’s half decent, you might even make some serious money like that Harry Potter fellow.”

Okay so some things will never change but still?

tumblr_mevju9mH6g1s0os8vo1_500

I’m not sure if he realises that Harry didn’t write the books?
(hogwartshallofmemes.tublr.com)

And with his unwavering support, I’ve spent the last seven months really working on my writing; not just for the book but also this blog. Obviously I’ve been doing other things too but the word-count on this piece is already too high so I’ll spare you the details.

In the early days of the blog, I wanted to accompany each post with a cartoon. I couldn’t afford to pay a professional so resorted to doing my own illustrations. One day my father saw me struggling to trace an image from my laptop screen and without asking, bought me a light-box.

I’ve since realised that I’m still shit at drawing and it’s a lot easier to just ‘borrow’ images from the internet. But I don’t think he understands just how much that gesture meant to me.

Although our relationship is so much better than it used to be and it must’ve taken a lot for him to say what he said, I still don’t think I’m ready to do the same. So I’ve put it in writing instead:

“Pa,

I’m not sure if you’ll ever read this but if you do, I’m sorry if you’re hurt by the way that I’ve portrayed you.

Yes, I’m grateful for everything you’ve done for me and the opportunities that have subsequently been afforded me; I really am. These were just feelings that I’ve supressed for too long and this blog has given me a means to let them out.

I won’t lie; remembering how you used to be has not been easy. But this piece also serves as a reminder of how much you’ve changed and I love the guy that you are today. If only we could’ve known him 30 years ago… Things could’ve been a lot different.

As you said though; the past is the past.

I’m still not sure what the future holds in store for me. Maybe this writing gig may lead to something bigger and better. I suspect not but even so, I hope that you’ll read my book one day and be proud. Not because it became a bestseller and made a stack of money. But because it was written by me. Though I should tell you now that it will probably lose more money than it’ll make!

A return to India is never far from my thoughts. Or maybe Northern Monkey was onto something and the two of us can start up the UK branch of the Avengers.

I'd be Thor (quicklol.com)

I’d be Thor (quicklol.com)

Whatever path I eventually choose to follow, I see now that you’ll have my back; even if it’s not what you’d envisaged for me as a child. And for that I truly thank you.”

I appreciate that this was a fairly lengthy piece so my sincere thanks to those of you who made it all the way to the end.

Before I go, there’s one more person I wanted to mention and that’s my mother. Without whom, I probably would’ve run away that day. Unlike my father, I have no problem saying these words to her face but I wanted all of you to know just how great she is:

“Ma,

I don’t think you give yourself enough credit for the part that you play in this family. You’re definitely the Beauty to his Beast and without you; the walls of his castle would’ve come crashing down years ago.

Thank you for being you.”

Oh and if you’re worried that this blog is taking a new direction, don’t be.

If you liked this then I suspect you might also enjoy my book. Or not.

Either way, thanks for reading; particularly to those of you who share these stories and/or leave comments.

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174 comments on “What I’d like to say to my father one day

  1. Halim
    22nd January 14

    Wow that was amazing. Totally unlike the great stuff I’ve been reading here but brilliant too.

    Your dad sounded so much like mine. Except that unfortunately, I only got the terrible beating part, but not the push for higher education part haha… And like your dad, mine was really a product of his own tough upbringing, and he too showed his love in unexpected ways. I still feel some pain thinking of how difficult it was to love that man (he passed away about 15 years ago), but comfort myself that he really did show he loved me.

    This is really a great tribute to your dad, and your mum. Bravo, man.

    Like

    • Sean Smithson
      23rd January 14

      Thanks a lot Halim. I really appreciate this comment man. And although it was difficult, at least you managed to make peace with him / the past before it was too late.

      Reading some of the other comments here, it appears that you and I are two of the luckier ones.

      Like

  2. mikesteeden
    22nd January 14

    A masterful piece of writing Sir. Also, my son sat indoors with an old away shirt on did the trick on Saturday I’m pleased to say!

    Like

    • Sean Smithson
      23rd January 14

      Thanks so much Mike. I was really worried about how this one would go down as it is so far removed from my usual ‘horny teenager garbage’. But from the comments I’ve received (both here and in person), I’m really glad I posted it.

      Yes, I was going to leave a note to say ‘whatever you guys did last Sat, make sure you do it again.’ Especially for the games against the big boys!

      Like

  3. El Guapo
    22nd January 14

    Glad you and him were able to get to that point while you’re both still alive, and that in the end, he accepts you as a person, and not as a goal.
    And really happy he said it to you.

    Think I’ll go call my dad later…

    (And that Harry Potter thing was the best autobiography EVER!!!)

    Like

    • Sean Smithson
      23rd January 14

      So am I Guap. So am I… Unfortunately the same didn’t happen with his own father.

      Ha. Your comment reminds me of the courtroom scene in Big Daddy (Adam Sandler before he became somewhat of a laughing stock). And yes, the Potter meme was simply inspired.

      Like

  4. the drunken cyclist
    22nd January 14

    I am glad to hear that you and your dad have achieved some sort of peace, I still have not been able to with my own. I am certain, however, that things will be different with my own two boys (I hope they feel the same).

    Like

    • Sean Smithson
      23rd January 14

      Thanks man. And I’m sorry to hear about the situation with your father. It was the same with dad and his father…

      But yes, on the upside it should make for a much stronger relationship with your own boys. You certainly seem to have a great connection with Sebastian.

      Like

  5. Expat Eye
    22nd January 14

    You’ve moved me to many things in the past – laughter, disgust, disbelief… this time, you’ve just moved me. Lovely stuff.

    Like

    • Sean Smithson
      23rd January 14

      Aww… Thank you so much Linda. But I’ll be back amusing, disgusting and creating disbelief before you know it! Hopefully.

      Like

      • Expat Eye
        23rd January 14

        Good. This new you confuses me 😉

        Like

        • Sean Smithson
          23rd January 14

          Ha. In truth, this piece is more the ‘old/real’ me than anything you may have read on this site. I just enjoy talking about women more than the other stuff…

          Like

          • Expat Eye
            23rd January 14

            Damn, so you really are a sensitive good guy! I knew it! 🙂

            Like

          • Sean Smithson
            23rd January 14

            Who is also more than capable of being a massive douche / walking erection at times.

            Like

          • Expat Eye
            23rd January 14

            Aren’t all men??? 😉

            Like

  6. Mountain Lamb
    22nd January 14

    I have sons of my own and find stories like this very enlightening. I’m glad you wrote it and shared what your father said. That does take balls. The father-son relationship is crucial, but ironically, so many societies–east, west, north and south–get it wrong as to why.

    Like

    • Sean Smithson
      23rd January 14

      Thanks Kara, it was quite a struggle for me deciding whether or not to actually post it. But I decided to go for it after mum gave it her approval. Of course, that’s the only post she’ll ever read on this site as I’m fairly certain the others will give her a heart attack!

      I’m glad you enjoyed it.

      Like

  7. Glorious Results of a Misspent Youth
    22nd January 14

    Liking this blog, not because of the unfortunate experiences you endured but because of the beauty with which it was expressed.

    Like

    • Sean Smithson
      23rd January 14

      It would have been okay to ‘like’ it for the Avengers or Harry Potter memes too…

      Thank you so much though Marissa. I’m glad I managed to get it out there without doing a complete disservice to my father.

      Like

  8. Madame Weebles
    22nd January 14

    Damn you, Sean, you’ve made me feel feelings. I have so much sympathy and empathy for you, for what you went through with your father. I don’t know what it is about fathers and sons, and mothers and daughters, but the relationship is usually so freaking complicated and traumatic. I’m glad your father has seen the error of his ways but I know that doesn’t undo all the damage that was done. That shit stays with you. Forgiveness and acceptance of the past are tough things. I grapple with them myself, but in my case it’s with my mother. And I give you huge credit for finally standing up to your dad. I know that must have been brutally difficult.

    Also, mad props to your mom, she sounds awesome and I’m glad you have her.

    Also also, DUDE. I went to UCL for grad school! Maybe we were there at the same time and passed each other on Gower Street or Gordon Street. I miss saying hi to Jeremy Bentham.

    Like

    • Sean Smithson
      23rd January 14

      I must’ve written (then subsequently deleted) about five responses to you as I wanted it to be as good as your comment. But I can’t think clearly as I’m just so stunned that you also went to UCL. How cool is that? (Actually, it’s really not that cool at all, is it.)

      We may well have passed one another Weebs. You never know. Though when you say ‘saying hi to big JB’, do you mean the actual statue on campus (I’m sure there was one) or the pub called The Jeremy Bentham? I assume the latter, yes?

      As for the piece, I really am so happy that YOU like it. Don’t get me wrong, I’m thrilled by each comment I’ve received. I really am. But if you want to know the truth, I only thought to write this after reading the piece you wrote about your father on BBW.

      So even though this will probably never go viral, get FP’d or reach an audience like it would’ve done on that platform, it’s pretty fucking cool to have you read and rate it. Thank you.

      And yes, after returning from that trip my relationship with the old man is fantastic. And mum? Well she’s just mum.

      Like

      • Madame Weebles
        23rd January 14

        It’s pretty cool, come on. I fucking miss London so much. Except the Northern Line. Ain’t nobody missing that shit.

        Like

        • Sean Smithson
          23rd January 14

          Yep. Definitely an honorary Londoner. The Northern line does suck. Also the Circle but we’re getting off topic…

          Ok yes, it is fucking cool.

          Like

          • Madame Weebles
            23rd January 14

            Also, I am touched that you were inspired by my BBW post on my dad. I wrote another one before that about my mother. Not nearly as complimentary. I don’t like the woman, and unlike your father, she has not seen the error of her ways with age, she’s just gotten worse. But whatever.

            You never saw the actual preserved remains of JB in the main building? He’s there in a big cabinet. It’s ghoulish and awesome.

            Like

          • Sean Smithson
            23rd January 14

            Sorry yes, that’s what I meant by the statue of him. I hardly ever spent any time in the main building though as they banished the stats nerds to Torrington place!

            It’s a shame I didn’t get to read that one…

            Like

          • Madame Weebles
            23rd January 14

            I can see if I can get that post. I can email it to you if you want. I didn’t spend much time on campus either, I was behind it on Gordon Street with all the history wonks.

            Like

          • Sean Smithson
            23rd January 14

            Please do Weebs.

            Like

  9. lazylauramaisey
    22nd January 14

    This is up there with my favourite things you’ve ever written.

    Like

    • Sean Smithson
      23rd January 14

      Even though there was no mention of tits, cock or muff? Wow.

      All jokes aside; I’m very pleased to hear you enjoyed it Laura. I wasn’t totally sure how it would be received…

      Like

  10. spincyclediaries
    22nd January 14

    Sean, this was an amazing post. Just loved it. Probably one of my favourites and it’s amazing just how much things have changed…one of the most amazing things about humanity! Can’t wait for your book!

    Like

    • Sean Smithson
      23rd January 14

      Thank you so much Talyn. Though surely you didn’t enjoy this as much as the one where I shit my pants?

      By the way, whilst I’m super happy that you’re excited about the book, you do know that it’ll be nothing like this piece, right? I don’t want to be accused of misleading people is all…

      Like

  11. Jen and Tonic
    22nd January 14

    Sean, so happy that you received the kind of response that I thought you would with this post. Kudos to you for your bravery in posting it here.

    It’s amazing the older I get, the more I realize how much the past dictates the present. I had the same realizations about my parents that you did about your dad– their missteps were a result of their parents’ missteps which were a result of their parents’ missteps, and so on. The great thing is that because you realize this, you have the opportunity to use this to better your future. You get to be the Sean you want to be instead of a mere product of your environment.

    Like

    • Sean Smithson
      23rd January 14

      And I’m so happy that you encouraged me to post it!

      I wanted to say something witty in response to the rest of your comment but I’m afraid I have nothing. Probably because I totally agree with / relate to everything you’re saying.

      On the downside; if I ever have kids, I can’t beat them now… Dammit!

      Like

  12. nancytex2013
    22nd January 14

    This time you blew my mind for a completely different reason.

    Beautiful writing, soul-baring truths, heartfelt emotions…this was a winning combination and a huge gift to your readers. Well done, you.

    Like

    • Sean Smithson
      23rd January 14

      Just wait till I do the post with me in my skirt!

      Ha. No seriously, thank you so much for that Nancy. I’ve been really touched by your (and the other readers’) comments. I’m so pleased you liked it.

      Like

  13. cpmandara
    22nd January 14

    Well, trying times, but it seemed that everyone turned out OK in the end. Life’s all about lessons, and it seems you both learned from them; substantially different things perhaps, but it’s all good now I hope 😉

    Like

    • Sean Smithson
      23rd January 14

      Most definitely ‘all good’ now Christina, thank you. And though I’m not sure I’d meet everyone’s definition of OK, I’m certainly happy with the way things are right now.

      Like

  14. honeydidyouseethat?
    22nd January 14

    Bet this was therapeutic for you. I personally think that forgiveness, acceptance, not sure of the word, starts with an apology. As for you, look what you’ve learned from this. Hopefully you will never hit your kids with your hands or your words. Take the good stuff from your dad and pay it forward.

    Like

    • Sean Smithson
      25th January 14

      Absolutely Shelley. It was quite tough to write but boy was it cleansing. I’m not sure if that’s the most appropriate word but I think you know what you mean.

      And yes, I’ve learnt so much from this. Bad and good.

      Not sure if I’ll ever have kids. But if I do, hopefully I’ll have the kind of relation with them that I do with the old man now.

      Like

  15. The Indecisive Eejit
    22nd January 14

    You know Mr Smithson, just when I think you can’t surprise me you do. You excelled yourself and I’m glad I got to read it. You need to realise just how amazing you are (I so want to put, you dirty big man whore, but we’re having a moment right here!). I’d freshly press this all day long if I worked for WordPress!

    Like

    • Sean Smithson
      25th January 14

      Juls, this is the sweetest comment, thank you so much. And I’m so glad not only that you liked it but that you (and other regular readers) are able to see that I’m not a ‘dirty big man whore’ ALL the time.

      It’s about 75/25. Unless I’m drunk… Then it’s 100% of the time.

      As for getting Freshly Pressed; again, that’s very sweet of you to say. But it’s probably best it doesn’t as people may read this and expect a similar level of emotion, depth, etc from the rest of the blog.

      Can you imagine the shock on their faces when the next post they read will be about me shitting my pants in a KFC??

      Like

  16. Pua Nani
    22nd January 14

    Great piece, I like reading about your feelings about your family more than I do about you shitting all over yourself…but that’s just me he he. I have observed a lot of young Indian men in Silicon Valley dealing with intense family pressure to succeed. To me success just for its own sake is worthless unless there is real heart behind it. Perhaps in addition to expressing yourself through your writing, you may be able to find a way to bring your training in the financial world together with your humanitarian interests. There is a new world to create yet that has to do with orienting social systems in the direction of supporting earth, nature, and all humans. Current systems and technology can be harnessed in this direction but will take individuals with heart who understand the old paradigm to know how to transform it into the new and execute that change.
    That is what I like to tell all the Indian guys from Silicon Valley who ask me out, and it seems to resonate with them, as there is such a strong vein of spiritual, artistic and humanitarian values within Indian culture.
    Keep up the good work…

    Like

    • Sean Smithson
      1st February 14

      Firstly, let me just apologise for how long it’s taken for me to respond. There was just a lot to take on board in this comment, sorry.

      Ha. It seems that you’re not the only one to prefer this sort of stuff to my KFC stories. I guess I just find the latter easier to write. I’m so pleased you enjoyed this though.

      With regard to your other point that is something that I’d be keen to look into at some stage. Though when, I can’t be sure…

      Like

  17. joeyfullystated
    22nd January 14

    This honestly made me reflect a lot on our family dynamics. The importance of acceptance, the careful balance of when to be proud and when to discipline, and most of all, the feeling that success isn’t something that can be measured by external factors. Great post, this.

    Like

    • Sean Smithson
      25th January 14

      Thank you so much Joey. I’m really pleased you (and other readers) like it. And this – ‘success isn’t something that can be measured by external factors’ – is so true.

      In fact, if dad hadn’t have come round like he did, I would have said something like that to him. Though perhaps not quite as eloquently. At least it’s written down somewhere now!

      Like

  18. Jami
    22nd January 14

    I’m kinda smitten with this post…I’m happy that you and your father have come to an understanding. Parents can show love in the strangest ways, but it is love.

    “If you’re happy and this is something you really want to do, then do it. Just don’t fuck it up!” Hahaha 😉

    Cool that you volunteered in India, and I understand what you mean by wanting to return. I went to Ayacucho Peru to spend time with orphaned boys (whose parents were victims of the Shining Path), and as lame as it sounds, it changed my life for good. It was a paradigm shift.

    Like

    • Sean Smithson
      25th January 14

      ‘Parents can show love in the strangest ways, but it is love.’ Very true Jami. And over the years, in spite of everything I never doubted that. He just has a VERY strange way of showing it!

      I’m so pleased you like it. Makes a change from the usual low-brow trash, hey?

      That doesn’t sound lame at all. And I feel the absolute same way. In fact, after seeing the response to this post I intend to write about my experiences out there… This probably won’t surprise you but not only is there a sex story, there’s also another poo story. Don’t worry though. It will be tasteful.

      Like

      • Jami
        25th January 14

        Sex, poo and Peru…you’ve got my attention! Honestly, I really look forward to reading more about your adventures abroad. You’re simply a great story teller. India too, eh? ;D

        Like

  19. Sharn
    22nd January 14

    “We’ve all moved on.”

    Do we ever really move on? I mean we move past it, but it’s always there, like the bogey man under the bed.

    I know only because I have some of those in my closet too and as much as I *know* that my mother is now a totally different person to what she was 20 years ago. I also know that those memories won’t go away either.

    Knowing that our parents are also still learning and growing themselves is a hard lesson. The brain says one thing, the heart another.

    I’ve forgiven, I understand, I’ve shed tears and exchanged words. But somehow I still can’t forget.

    In some ways I think this post shows your strength of character – not only because I get the whole not running away thing… I couldn’t even comprehend doing anything like that as a child.. they are my family after all!

    I’m so glad that you’re father has also grown into someone who has your back no matter what. My mother has morphed into the same kind of person and I love her to bits for it. Even though she still laments at my piercings, tattoo’s and the fact that I refuse to go to a sperm bank to reproduce for her.

    I love this post. I do.

    Like

    • Sean Smithson
      1st February 14

      Hey Sharn,

      I’m so sorry for not responding to this sooner. There was just a lot to digest and I didn’t want to reply with some half-arsed drivel. That being said, I’m not actually sure what to say as you’ve summed things up so well in your comment.

      I’m so glad you were able to resonate with this and with regard to the ‘moving on’ aspect, I honestly think that you should write about your experiences with your mother – I’d definitely read that.

      You’re right I guess; before writing this I probably hadn’t moved on fully. But after putting it out there something has definitely changed. The next step is showing dad… Baby steps though!

      Like

      • Sharn
        1st February 14

        Baby steps are things that you just need to do.
        I’m sure you’ll get there too.
        My mother? Maybe someday I will. To say that we don’t have a weird relationship is an understatement. But she’s still mum I guess!

        Like

  20. jessmittens
    23rd January 14

    Great post. It’s always somehow refreshing to read really honest posts.
    And I can totally relate to how the ‘shitty’ aspects of your parents parenting don’t overwhelm the good parts. Though perhaps luckily, mine were never physical or over-controlling.
    Good luck with your book! Your writing is good so maybe you will be up there with that Harry Potter dude 😉

    Like

    • Sean Smithson
      24th January 14

      Thank you Jess. These words mean a lot coming from you. And yes, although people’s experiences may not have been identical to mine, it seems a lot of people can relate to this. I’m glad.

      Ha. I’ve got more chance of making the Avengers!

      PS – Completely unrelated; I read your post about another blogger’s reaction to your post being Freshly Pressed and have to say, ‘what a dick’. I like the way you handled it though.

      Like

  21. girlseule
    23rd January 14

    Oh my gosh this post just floored me, I found it very moving. Your posts are always honest, but this was a whole different type of honest, and so well written. This is a post that will stick in my mind a long time.

    Like

    • Sean Smithson
      23rd January 14

      Thank you so much for this comment Evie. Really.

      Yes, it was quite a break from the norm wasn’t it. Hopefully readers caught a glimpse of the real me instead of just Sean “Perma-Bone” Smithson.

      Like

  22. TIA
    23rd January 14

    I loved this! You really are all soft and gushy underneath that tough manly exterior. Almost makes me want to Change my ways:)

    Like

    • Sean Smithson
      23rd January 14

      Thank you Tia. I’m really glad you enjoyed it. Though I wouldn’t say ALL soft and gushy. But then again, I wouldn’t have said I had a tough, manly exterior.

      I’d go for a combination of all the above with a sprinkling of horny, douchebag on top.

      Like

  23. Lori Shea-Skillin
    23rd January 14

    Sean , I said it would be amazing and it is… just. amazing. This touched a nerve with me… and obviously a lot of others… and I’m awed at the courage it took to put it all out there. This post is by far my very favourite. I could and would say more.. but I don’t want to get all gooey on you, : p xx

    Like

    • Sean Smithson
      23rd January 14

      Aww… thank you so much Lori, I really appreciate those words. And am so pleased you like it as it’s obviously a massive step away from the usual bullshit I write about.

      Slightly disappointed to hear that it’s by far your very favourite though. I thought for sure the wedding / pissing in the lobby story was ‘the one’? Just you wait until you read how that ends… You’ll come back to the dark-side after that for sure.

      Like

      • Lori Shea-Skillin
        31st January 14

        Oh who am I kidding..? I don’t play favourites!! I love all of the stories… ALL.OF.THEM. I’ve been telling the girls I work with about your shenanigans. .Its made for some interesting conversations, shared experiences and a tonne of laughter in the work truck. So really, I should be thanking you! x You have made many a work day tolerable especially lately in 40 degree + heat.
        PS.. I showed them your pic..so they knew who and what I was going on about.. both eyed you off and said in unison ” fuck yeah id tap that’ … 🙂 your in like Flynn mate .

        Like

  24. Daile
    23rd January 14

    So well written, you had me captivated with this story Sean, I’m so happy you have a better relationship with your father and i do hope he gets to read that letter one day. It sounds like he is proud of you and supportive and just doesn’t quite know how to express it. But he is trying. Which says a lot.

    You will never be able to forget about the awful things he did while growing up and I feel sorry that you had to experience that. I like this Sean style of writing too. Shows you are vulnerable and human like the rest of us 🙂

    Like

    • Sean Smithson
      23rd January 14

      Man, first that comment last week and now this one… Thanks so much for this Daile.

      Yes, after reading some of the reactions to this piece, I really think I will ask him to read this. Though I may need to start looking for a place to stay if he doesn’t like it!

      No need to feel sorry as it’s made me who I am today. But I do appreciate the sentiment. Yes, it seems quite a few of the regular readers like ‘this’ Sean, who resembles the ‘real’ Sean much more. But I just enjoy writing about trying to get laid and embarrassing myself more than this stuff…

      PS – I’ve asked for your previous comment to be added to the back cover. In fact, my cousin (who does all my proofing and tells me whether or not I’ve gone too far) thinks it’s the best one as it probably sums up what the book is about perfectly. So thank you once again.

      I shall figure out some sort of reward in due course… Maybe I’ll let you sleep with me. How does that sound?

      Like

  25. E
    23rd January 14

    Sweet and honest. (And I’d be Thor, too.)

    Like

    • Sean Smithson
      23rd January 14

      Thank you E. Honestly, I’d rather be The Hulk but I couldn’t find any images of just him with someone else. But yes, definitely Thor over Captain A.

      Like

  26. gingerfightback
    23rd January 14

    Reblogged this on and commented:
    Worth a read….

    Like

  27. Ankur Mithal
    23rd January 14

    Wow! “We really don’t have a right to judge them” is what they say about parents. I would agree.

    Like

    • Sean Smithson
      23rd January 14

      I’m not sure everyone would agree with that statement Ankur. Though I’m about 90/10 in support of it.

      Thank you for leaving a comment by the way.

      Like

  28. Doctor Whatever
    23rd January 14

    Loved this piece. My parents are no different. Especially when they say something like “So fuck everyone who is questioning what you’re doing. You’re my son, not theirs.” …. its the best confidence booster. Hope your father reads that letter. 🙂

    Like

    • Sean Smithson
      23rd January 14

      Ha. Yes, it was pretty cool when he said that. You’re not the first one to say that… I’m beginning to think that maybe I should let him read this.

      Thank you for this comment and I’m really glad you enjoyed the piece.

      Like

  29. Christyherself
    23rd January 14

    I am 44 years old, and still struggling to do what I want with continued disappointment from my mother. Life is too short to not do what you want, even if it's something as simple as renting a place to live over having a mortgage (my current struggle).

    I cannot wait to ready your book when it is ready. 🙂

    Like

    • Sean Smithson
      23rd January 14

      You’re right Christy, life is too short… So it’s definitely better to live it for yourself.

      I’m so glad you were able to resonate with this piece. Though if you’re excited about the book because you think it might be remotely similar, I’m sorry to tell you that it will be nothing like this. It will be low-brow, trash like the stuff I usually write!

      Like

      • Christyherself
        23rd January 14

        Oh, I love that stuff best! You have great stories to tell and a wonderful way of expressing them with your writing. 🙂

        Like

  30. sozsatire
    23rd January 14

    A wonderful read Sean. I particularly enjoyed the parts where you getting a damn good thrashing.

    Like

  31. tinam81
    23rd January 14

    I love this Sean, and can relate in many ways to what you’re saying, as you probably know. But as I was reading it, I realized that almost everyone can relate to what you’re saying which is why it’s such a brilliant, relatable post. Keep up your hard work and not only will your father be proud, so too will you.

    Like

    • Sean Smithson
      23rd January 14

      Thank you so much Tina, I really appreciate this. And yes, it seems to have resonated with a number of readers.

      Makes a change to the usual shit I write about, hey!

      Like

      • tinam81
        23rd January 14

        Maybe so, but it just shows a breadth of writing ability. Some people are good at comedy writing but lack at other forms. We all need to be marketable in this world and the more you can offer the more you can get!

        Like

        • Sean Smithson
          23rd January 14

          Interesting. I’m currently not getting any. Though maybe you were talking about something else..?

          Annnd we’re back to regular, horny, douchebag Sean.

          Like

          • tinam81
            23rd January 14

            Excellent. I got a little scared he was taking a vacation.

            Welcome back!

            Like

  32. TYTG
    23rd January 14

    This is lovely, I (like everyone else, it seems) definitely relate. Also, I just finished my masters at UCL! Also, set me up with one of your brothers

    Like

    • Sean Smithson
      23rd January 14

      No way, ANOTHER UCL alumni? Wicked. Weebles (^) went there too and although this is a slight digression from your comment, you should definitely check her site out.

      Anyway. Thanks, I’m pleased you liked it. And although very presumptuous on my part, I suspected that as a fellow British Asian you’d probably relate.

      As for my brothers… Ha. Why am I not surprised? Unfortunately (for you) one’s happily married but I’ll see what I can do about the other one.

      Like

      • Pixie Girl
        23rd January 14

        Weebles as in Madame Weebles? Really?

        I work with UCL (among others)… small world, or small London (not my smartest comment ever).

        Like

        • Sean Smithson
          23rd January 14

          Indeed. I only found that out myself after this post.

          You can read our incredibly intelligent and witty (terribly dull and fairly pants to everyone else) conversation if you scroll up. And yes, it is a small world…

          Like

      • TYTG
        25th January 14

        All the cool London kids went to UCL! Ahh, I’ll defs have a look

        Yeah, definitely. I’m still in the ‘you’re an underachiever and everything you do is disappointing’ phase, though. Life! Successful Asian husband will turn things around

        Like

  33. Pixie Girl
    23rd January 14

    Oh. Well, that was different… great piece of writing, and quite a story (if I may say so bluntly having followed you… two hours ago?)

    Yup, I will stick around.

    Like

    • Sean Smithson
      23rd January 14

      You most certainly may say so Pixie Girl. Thank you kindly. I’m pleased you enjoyed it. Though this is very much an exception to the rest of the shit on here. Be warned…

      PS – Do you mind me asking what work you do with / for the university?

      Like

      • Pixie Girl
        23rd January 14

        I’m an educational partner, providing content, e-learning technology, strategies for growth, student experience improvements… and anything else one can think of to help a university grow. If that explains anything!

        Like

        • Sean Smithson
          23rd January 14

          I’m more confused now than before… But thank you for trying to explain it to me.

          Like

  34. themonumentaljackass
    24th January 14

    You come and compliment me, Sean?
    You’re magnificent. And I am honored.

    When you do come back to India, look me up, perhaps? We could exchange stories about stern but supportive fathers.

    You have a new follower, by the way. In the real sense of the term.

    Like

    • Sean Smithson
      24th January 14

      Whoa man, I don’t know about magnificent. Especially when compared to your writing. But thank you kindly.

      I had no idea that you were from India? It’s certainly not evident from the posts I’ve read so far (I will eventually get round to reading them all hopefully). But yes, WHEN I return, I will definitely try to look you up friend and we can discuss our parents and much, much more…

      I’m most glad to have you on board.

      Like

  35. La La
    24th January 14

    Woah, this resonates with me.

    First, I can’t believe he said that, it really must have taken a lot. I have always secretly hoped for similar from my mother, who was the one extremely hard on me. She has warmed up slightly and I make jokes to take off the edge, but I doubt she will ever get to that point where she admits anything which is mostly about my writing, the way I look, my profession etc. Like your dad, she was pushing for me to be a doctor or lawyer (whatever makes a ton of money, like you said). I was also a great student, but not the best so of course she was critical. The woman makes amazing meatballs and I love her regardless.

    Interestingly, my older brother is also making a ridiculous amount of money, and she has a hard time understanding why I’m not more like him.

    Kudos to you on that response as it was respectful, strong and raw. It really gave me something to think about on this end.

    Thanks for sharing this!

    Like

    • Sean Smithson
      24th January 14

      Shit the bed. First Weebs, then Jen and now you. Maybe I should write more of this serious stuff, hey..?

      I know, I was really taken aback by his reaction. He’s been bloody amazing throughout this whole ‘what the hell am I doing with my life’ saga.

      If it helps, tell Mama La La that Smithson thinks her daughter is hot and is a brilliant and very entertaining writer. If you could make the meatballs too then you’d have the whole package!

      Yes, it must be strange for parents when they see their other children ‘living up to their potential’… but they need to try to remember that it’s not always a case of ‘one size fits all’.

      Thank you for your thoughts on this piece La La; I really appreciate it.

      Like

      • La La
        24th January 14

        Ha, I’m at the bar and just said “aw shucks” out loud when I read this. When I tell her, she will ask, “Who is that?” and that’s when I’ll whip out your book. 😉

        Like

        • Sean Smithson
          24th January 14

          And that’s when she’ll say, “honey, you really shouldn’t hang out with such unsavoury characters…”

          Like

  36. janeybgood
    25th January 14

    I really connected with this piece. I too have had a turbulent relationship with my father and there is so much left unsaid between us. It was really brave of you to write this, and I don’t mean that in a condescending manner. I would love to have the courage to be this honest not just with others, but with myself.
    I’m glad that you have been able to follow your own path; it’s definitely something I need to think about. Thanks for writing this.

    Like

    • Sean Smithson
      25th January 14

      Thanks Janey. It definitely seems to have struck a chord with a number of the regular readers.

      It was so much harder than writing about trying to hit on women or shitting my pants… But I’m glad it’s out there now. I’m pleased you like it.

      Like

  37. emma
    26th January 14

    Darn you – you made me all emotional!

    I think I understand the “Desi parent” dynamic going on. My parents weren’t as strict, but sometimes the stringent regulations and corporal punishment are unnecessary. It makes it so easy to resent them when you’re young. But after moving away from home, I have recently come to realize how much they really support their kids, even well into adulthood.

    But congratulations on making it as far as you did. I say that you have won in the journey of life, as you have made progress, had meaningful experiences, and learned!

    Like

    • Sean Smithson
      5th February 14

      Hey Emma,

      Sorry for the somewhat delayed response. When I first saw your comment, I read it as ‘stringent regulations… are NECESSARY’ and was like, ‘wow, really?’ So I wanted to take my time before replying…

      However having re-read it, I just wanted to say thank you. And I wholeheartedly agree with you about their support.

      Next time, I’ll read stuff properly.

      Like

      • emma
        5th February 14

        Whoa! I re-read my comment to make sure I didn’t make an unfortunate typo.

        Definitely UN-necessary. Just because I see kids who grew up in a much more relaxed upbringing and are just as successful – if not more – than their straitjacket-ed counterparts!

        Like

  38. The Hook
    26th January 14

    Well done, Sean.
    You’re a good man and wonderfully honest, bright, kick-ass son and writer.

    Like

    • Sean Smithson
      26th January 14

      Thank you so much Hook. Coming from you (as a seriously kick-ass writer and father) that means a hell of a lot.

      Like

      • The Hook
        26th January 14

        As well it should!
        Seriously, you’re a good man in the truest sense of the word.

        Like

  39. samara
    26th January 14

    So, now I have a face full of tears.

    I had strong similarities in my childhood. The beatings were less physically brutal but the expectations and disregard for my overachievement took an emotional toll that still messes with my head. I touch on in in “Tenses of Forgiveness.” And elsewhere.

    I don’t quite know what to write. I’m glad this is the first post of yours I read. Where is this book of yours?

    Now you’ll have to suffer through a massive dose of big bloggy love coming at you,

    samara

    Like

    • Sean Smithson
      26th January 14

      Ha. I welcome the big bloggy love. Especially from bloggers I have crushes on!

      But I must warn you that usually my stuff is low-brow, bollocks… Pretty much what the book will be (which I hope will be available next month). So I understand if the love doesn’t materialise.

      Will definitely check that post out. And the others too.

      PS – Sorry for making you cry. Though some of the other stories should hopefully give you happy tears.

      Like

    • Sean Smithson
      26th January 14

      Whoa Samara, I just read that post… You totally fucking relate. I love it. And you.

      To anyone who reads these comment threads who resonated with this piece, please go over to Samara’s blog and check the above post out.

      Like

      • samara
        27th January 14

        These parents.

        They just don’t realize – how much damage they can do. I’ve never really gotten past mine. Not all the way. I’m panic stricken every time I publish a post.

        And I’m hard on my kid, too. Not physically, ever. I push him to be great. I Outed myself on my last post about that.

        I also have tons of fun with him. But as I read your post, I really second guessed how I was raising him. And if I’m pushing him too hard.

        Deep breath.

        Like

        • samara
          27th January 14

          Also- I just wanted to tell you-
          after getting a full scholarship to an Ivy League college, my mom refused to drive me there and move me in my freshman year. For complex reasons of her own. True story.
          I moved myself in.
          We were operating on a parallel universe, I think. Funny how the blogosphere connects people.

          Like

          • Sean Smithson
            27th January 14

            It definitely seems that way, doesn’t it… And yes, this whole thing has introduced me to some pretty cool and interesting people. Pssst… you’re one of them.

            Like

  40. charlypriest
    27th January 14

    And this is way to familiar to me, except my father is from Spain, the rest seems like him. He´s an old timer, is what i call him. He´s not emotionally involved in the day to day activities of his children, he will pay for the best universities and highschools though. But the emotional thing, that´s up to mom, and expectations for his kids…allways high, to high. Not all people can have all that confidence and drive and hard work ethic.
    Nice Post Mr. Smith, a new side to you.

    Like

    • Sean Smithson
      27th January 14

      Thank you brother. Yes, it seems like you can totally relate. Hopefully the old timer has accepted you for who you are though?

      Like

      • charlypriest
        28th January 14

        Yep, and I learned to accept him for who he is in my early twenties although I did have a lot of resentment towards him up until that time. I then figured, you can´t change people, I know he loves me in his own way, so that´s that.
        Stay Frosty Sean.

        Like

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This entry was posted on 9th March 14 by in The Stories that don't fit in anywhere else and tagged , , , , , , , .
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