I know Ford is a strange name. That’s not what’s on his papers, but it’s what I call him. Why? Because I can’t bear to use the name on his papers. Let me tell you what happened. I was away on business, the other side of the world – South Korea, actually; my company was setting up a manufacturing site there and it was my job to make sure everything was done in line with local laws. I was supposed to be there for one week, and Arabella, my wife, was expecting our first child; our only child, as it turned out; in four weeks. To cut a long story short, my one week extended to three, and her four weeks cut down to two. Arabella had the baby while I was thousands of miles away, and registered him; it was a boy, but I imagine you worked that out already. When she registered him, she named him Fortitude. Fortitude. Can you imagine the problems he’d have at school with a handle like that? Well, when I got back and found that out, we had our first big, and I mean big, row.
Okay, it wasn’t actually the first, but it was probably the biggest so far. She reckoned that all the usual names are too normal; that she wanted our son to have a name that would make him stand out from the crowd. He certainly would with a name like Fortitude. If she’d wanted to be different, why not name him Fox, or Shirley, or some other name that’s actually been used for a boy before? He’d have had plenty of good hidings at school for that, if that’s what she wanted for him, but Fortitude? It’s not even a name, for pity’s sake. It’s a quality, an attribute; doubtless an admirable one, but it isn’t a name. Anyway, when I set up his schooling, I made it clear that none of the staff should ever call him or refer to him by his official name, so as far as anyone’s concerned, his name is Ford, and that’s an end to it!
Look, you’re going to have to pull me back when I go off on a tangent like that, else you’ll never get your story.
You think? Well, if I were to tell you all the stupid things she did, we’d be here all day; all week, more likely.
So. After Ford was born, I packed in my job, so I wouldn’t have to spend as much time away. I wanted to be really involved in Ford’s upbringing, if only because I couldn’t trust his mother to do it right. She had some weird ideas, I can tell you. I’ve always been a nice-looking chap, even if I say so myself, and once I’d signed up with an agency, I soon had offers from magazines, catalogues and so on; modelling clothes for them. It wasn’t totally regular, but there was enough to keep the wolf from the door. That led to some film work, acting as body double for some well-known male leads and, remarkably, some voice-over work. No, I won’t name the people I body-doubled for; not because I don’t want to, but because of the confidentiality agreements I signed. If I named them now, my work would dry up and I can’t afford that.
A couple of the big designers wanted to sign me up for catwalk work, but I decided I didn’t want to do that.
Why not? Mostly because it would have meant trolling around to all the big fashion events, London, Milan, Paris, New York and goodness knows where else, but also; between you, me and the nearest gatepost; because I feel a right dick doing that kind of thing. At least still photography and even TV ads are more natural. The whole catwalk thing is so artificial. You walk on, completely disengaged, po-faced (not allowed to smile or show any interest or involvement), walk the length of the catwalk, turn around, walk back again and change into something else. No. Not for me.
Yeah, I know it pays well. I know a lot of people love it, but not this model; no sir.
Been doing that for ten years now. Over that time, Arabella seemed to have decided to drop some of her more out-there ideas and join normal society, and I thought things were going well. Then, a year ago today, she breezes in and tells me that she’s in love with a young model called Aubrey. Now, I know this bloke; worked with him a few times. Nice enough fellah, but I’d never have put Arabella down as his type; wrong body shape, if you get my drift.
But it turns out she preferred him to me, so she went. Before she left the house, she asked me what I was going to tell the lad (she still insisted on calling him Fortitude). I told her that I wasn’t going to tell him anything; she was the one leaving, what was she going to tell him?
I was expecting to have to fight her for custody of our son, but it turns out Aubrey doesn’t like children, so she was quite happy to leave him with me. Just as well; not only was it what I believed was best for the boy, but it’s what Ford wanted, too – from the first time he saw Aubrey, he didn’t like the man.
That was a year ago. I’m good with it all, but Ford still gets a bit tearful occasionally. Regardless how good or bad a mother is, there’s a special mother-son relationship that somehow withstands almost anything. Ford is a sensitive lad, which is why we’re here today. Give him something else to think about. He loves this place, and I think when the time comes, he wouldn’t mind getting a job here, caring for the animals. We try to come at least once a month; there’s always something interesting going on, always something different, something new.
Oh crap! While I’ve been standing here talking to you, they’ve sold out and packed up. No burger for me, it seems. Never mind, I could do with shedding a bit of weight; at least Ford got his.
I wrote this in response to Kreative Kue 65, issued on this site earlier this week. Feel free to join in; just follow the link.