Daily Express

I advertised for a dad

No dad? No problem. Georgie Codd explains how when it came to finding a father figure, she took matters into her own hands

- Edited by HANNAH BRITT INTERVIEW BY CHARLOTTE HEATHCOTE Get in touch! express.yourself@express.co.uk

The classified adverts in the back of magazines are where people mostly seek romance or sell cars. But Georgie Codd advertised for a father.

Though Georgie, 37, was raised by a loving and supportive mother and grandmothe­r, she couldn’t shake a deep-rooted sadness at missing out on having a dad.

Her father Carl had left her mother Denise when she was pregnant.

“I had always wondered what it would be like to have a dad,” says Georgie, who lives on the south coast. “It was as if there was something fundamenta­l I’d been missing.”

Though Georgie had written to Carl in her 20s, hoping they might meet, her letter went unanswered and he died seven years ago.

However, in 2019, Georgie and her mother went on a cruise. And during a trip to the mainland, a Welsh fellow traveller, Peter, suggested a visit to a local cafe. “Peter was an older guy, not married, no kids, but he was very good at meeting people,” says Georgie. In the cafe, another passenger asked to join them.

Peter immediatel­y said, gesturing to Georgie and her mother: “I was just telling my wife and daughter it would be lovely to have some company.”

Gerorgie says: “I was a bit stunned.” But she decided to play along, calling Peter ‘Pops’. They continued the charade until the woman left the cafe 20 minutes later.

Afterwards, Peter told Georgie he’d always wondered what it would be like to have a daughter.

And his words sparked an idea. “I thought, there have to be more people like Peter.”

So Georgie, a freelance writer, set to work. She made a spreadshee­t and started posting “dadverts” in New Scientist, Private Eye, Farmers’ Weekly and The Stage. They said: “Friendly, fatherless 31-year-old woman seeks intrepid man, 50s to 70s, who may be willing to take on the role of father figure.”

Though Georgie specified “no sugar daddies”, she still received numerous sexual responses.

One aspiring ‘father figure’ even invited Georgie on a naturist holiday in Spain, suggesting “rejuvenati­ng nude dips in the pool”.

But there were more appropriat­e messages, too. Over emails, Georgie built a strong rapport with Roland, and they started making plans to meet.

But, when he broached the subject with his daughter, she was uncomforta­ble with the idea. Much to Georgie’s disappoint­ment, Roland broke off contact. Elsewhere, she met up with a few promising candidates. One proved to be suicidally depressed. Another unsettled her when he bade her farewell with the suggestive “kind of ‘mmm’ you hear on adverts for luxury yoghurts”. With a third, their discussion­s always ended with him talking at length about Brexit. “All my friends who have fathers said, ‘That’s what dads do, they go on and on about Brexit you’re getting the proper experience.” Interestin­gly, Peter was a constant paternal presence throughout. “He kept checking in on me and, when he found out about the project, he was horrified in a very fatherly way, saying, ‘You’re going to get all these perverts going after you’.”

But Peter didn’t fit Georgie’s bill either. She found him sexist, their political views were diametrica­lly opposed – and he was such a prankster she couldn’t be sure of his true feelings. “I hadn’t realised, naively, how exposing this process would be for me and my feelings. So I felt nervous to be really open and say, ‘This really matters to me, I’d like to take it more seriously’,” she says. Georgie also feared her mother’s feelings were hurt by her search for another parent. But ultimately, her mother was “brilliant… I’m super grateful to her”. As she embarked upon her search, Georgie tried to avoid thinking about Carl. In her mid-20s, she had researched him online and learned he was a freelance photograph­er.

He had told courts that he couldn’t afford child maintenanc­e payments, yet photos showed him on holiday in Australia.

His mother also wanted nothing to do with her granddaugh­ter. But Carl’s brother Michael was more forthcomin­g. He painted a picture of an unreliable, uncommunic­ative man who drank and was in debt. The more Georgie learned about Carl’s personalit­y, the easier it became to accept his absence from her life. “Sometimes the parent you think you should have, the missing parent, is not really the best parent for you.

“It was helpful for me to learn that no, it was the right thing for me to grow up without my biological father.”

However, psychologi­cally, Georgie’s biggest breakthrou­gh came not from hunting down a perfect surrogate father figure, but from undergoing psychodram­atic therapy, something she discovered during a visit to HMP Grendon, where offenders re-enact the incidents that put them behind bars for rehabilita­tion and reparation purposes. Georgie hit upon the idea of paying an actor to play Carl in a one-off role-play scenario in which he met his daughter for the first time.

A friend recommende­d a fellow actor named John. Georgie wrote a brief of background details for him and, beyond that, he would ad lib.

They met at London Zoo, their light-hearted conversati­on shifting to serious in the cafe. There, John told Georgie, “I’ve made such a mess of things, I was scared, really scared. I deeply regret my decision to stay away. I’m sorry”. His words proved transforma­tive. “It was a very unexpected thing that really shifted something in me. I feel permanentl­y different about myself as a result of that one day. Really being myself and putting my emotions out there with someone who was very supportive, to have a con- versation as if he was my father and hear his responses and be seen by him, it was really powerful. John showed me that it wasn’t my fault. My father chose not to be involved, not because of who I was, because of who he was.

“One of the messages that was repeated to me was, ‘You’re not the only one who missed out’. That was another big shift that changed my attitude.” Ultimately, Georgie’s search for a father gave her a renewed appreciati­on for her family. “I’m very lucky. Rather than having missed out, I won the jackpot by having my mum and grandmothe­r instead.” She’s still processing everything she learned from her dadverts. “It was seriously eye opening and such a rollercoas­ter. And I learned so much along the way. I’m very glad I did it.”

■*Never Had A Dad by Georgie Codd (£16.99, William Collins) is out now

‘‘ Friendly 31-year-old woman seeks man to take on the role of father figure

 ?? ??
 ?? Having a dad ?? SO CLOSE Growing up with her mum but Georgie missed
Having a dad SO CLOSE Growing up with her mum but Georgie missed
 ?? ?? MISSION Georgie posted ‘dadverts’ in magazines
MISSION Georgie posted ‘dadverts’ in magazines
 ?? ?? CHILDHOOD: Georgie as a youngster
CHILDHOOD: Georgie as a youngster
 ?? ?? DOTING GRAN With baby Georgie
DOTING GRAN With baby Georgie

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