From the Author
As with the Guardian column, Dad's Life depicts from a father's perspective a 'shared parenting' situation - an arrangement whereby his children spend roughly half their time under his roof and the other half under their mother's. Such set-ups are becoming more common among parting couples and often work well for the children concerned, although they can generate their own special absurdities and agonies too. It is these that Dad's Life explores.
Joseph is a modern father equipped to handle his tough situation. He is not consumed with anger or self-pity by his partner's decision to leave him. Neither is he hapless and crisis-stricken in the face of day-to-day child care nor so pleased with himself for mastering it that you long to punch him on the nose. The main inspirations for Joseph are those (usually childless) male anti-heroes who emerged in the early Seventies crime movies I liked in my youth: dedicated, self-sufficient and ultimately noble men, they were also sceptical, fallible and flawed. As with real parents of either sex Joseph's relationships with his children are not all sweetness and light - although passionately devoted to them he also gets annoyed with them, has his feelings hurt by them and so on.
There are two other things I hope Dad's Life achieves. One is to capture something of the extraordinary ways young children think, talk and make sense of their worlds. The other is to have a bit of fun with contemporary cliches about gender roles and sexual identities and where they come from. Hence there's a small boy who dresses like a girl, a male character in futile search of his 'male essence' and, in Joseph's relationships with all the female characters - especially his new partner and his daughter - a spirit of true equality at work.
Dave Hill, June 2003.