I’ve been thinking about my dad this week and what follows is a reflection on some of my memories of him. Reflection is a useful tool but, as people in Cohort 6 will learn on their next module, one that can start to spread into all areas of your life. As for double looping……it should come with a health warning!
When I was a small child my Dad was an active, athletic man. He played cricket all summer, revelling in his role as wicket keeper. Saturdays were dominated by his cricket match. He never went alone and all my earliest memories of summer are set in a big green space, filled with the smell of new cut grass, the vague awareness of men in white in the distance and the sound of my father shouting “Howzat?”.
He played basketball in the long, dark winter evenings. He’d come back to our basement flat tired but elated if he’d played well. I remember the cold, rough texture of his overcoat. His cheek was cold as he kissed me goodnight.
My Dad’s favourite music was a constant soundtrack to my childhood. The record player was hardly ever off,and if it was, it was because the piano was being played. My Dad loved all sorts of music. Jazz & blues were a passion. He collected records of obscure American blues singers, some I remember like Bessie Smith, others I hear now and again and the memory floods back. He also liked Glen Miller, Gershwin, Charlie Parker, Billie Holiday and Bobbie Gentry. Later he loved the Beatles. He was very open musically and enjoyed some of the music I liked as a teenager. He even liked Dory Previn!
He loved classical music & took me to the Halle Proms every year. We saw Jacqueline du Pre play Elgar’s famous Cello Concerto in E Minor at the Free Trades Hall. She looked so beautiful in her long white dress and both of us wept buckets. We also went to see opera whenever we could. He loved Puccini best of all and sang Your Tiny Hand is Frozen for weeks after we saw La Boheme.
He played the BEST honky-tonk & boogie- woogie piano. He sang with a basso profundo voice so deep it made you shiver!
He loved the Goons and any surrealist comedy. He bought me Spike Milligan’s poetry books when I was quite young and taught me to sing “Ying Tang tittdle Eye Po”. He liked the Pasadena Roof Orchestra so it was a very short step for him to join me in enjoying the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band. He did a fine and hilarious version of By a Waterfall. Monty Python was a passion and whilst everyone else’s parents were baffled or hostile my Dad could recite the Dead Parrot sketch and sing “I’m A Lumberjack”!
My father loved modernist design, clean lines and “art not ornament”. Corbusier was a god! He said that living amongst the Victorian self-importance of Annan’s architecture had made him want to be an architect, if only to inject some order into it all. If pushed he’d admit that the proportions and clean lines of the Georgian flat he grew up in might just have had some influence as well.
He loved science fiction and the Hornblower stories. He gave me The Hobbit and then Lord of the Rings to read when I was about 13. When I was bored at home I read my way through his vast collection of Fantastic Tales, Analog, and Amazing Stories. By the time I’d read all that I was a fan too! I even read the Hornblower books and they weren’t that bad.
He voted Liberal & didn’t trust any of them really. He said his heart was socialist but that the Labour politicians were corrupt. Still he thought they weren’t as bad as the Tories who he thought were real crooks and better organised.
So, as ever with reflection, the next thing to do is draw out the learning. I’ll look at this in my next post.