I took my dad to Scarborough – and saw a side of him that I didn’t expect

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Over crumble and custard on our short break in Yorkshire, Dad wondered if it was worth him getting into Instagram

I’ve got a bit of a thing for my elders. As a kid I wouldn’t leave my great-aunt alone. In my early 30s, I went on six coach holidays with a load of strangers twice my age for my book, The Gran Tour. So it won’t come as a surprise to learn that I recently dragged my old man to Scarborough for a mini-break. When I say dragged, I’m only half-joking. He didn’t fancy the coach ride, for a start. For the first hour of the journey north from Portsmouth, Dad behaved like a hostage, but by the time we’d reached Reading he was leaning across the aisle to help a couple with the crossword.

It surprised me that he knew the answer to 4 down was “saturnalia”. And the fact that it surprised me showed how relatively little I knew of the man. I knew his outline well enough – born 1952, shipwright in the dockyard, 12 years sober and counting, ever so kind – but not the full picture, not the finer brush strokes. I hoped that Scarborough might fill in some gaps.

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