It's strange how one can know someone so well, yet at the same time not really know them at all.
This was the case with my father, and I've recently been trying to think of him as an individual, rather than as a parent.
He and his older brother were both privately educated at a Sussex Public School (Public Schools in the UK are Private Schools), and he always had that upright bearing that such rigid scholastic discipline instils; you might even see that in his photo above.
After school he briefly studied accountancy (to what level I'm not sure), then ended up in The City working for a major UK clothing/bedding manufacturer called Morleys. After a few years learning the ways of business he set up on his own back in his native Sussex, and became reasonably successful.
Part of his success in life was reflected by his 'public duties', he was even head-hunted to become a Parliamentary candidate. I'll never forget a blazing row he had with Jeffrey Johnson-Smith MP who had come to recruit him. My father told him he would only ever stand for parliament as an Independent Conservative, and not a Conservative..... Expletives were exchanged.
Father was also a very caring employer. All his staff were treated with respect, and were generously rewarded for their hard work. Everyone's holidays and birthdays were celebrated with a well filled envelope, and at Christmas bottles of Scotch were distributed to the bank manager, the gardener, the postman, the milkman, and just about everyone who'd been of service during the year.
Being away at school myself, I didn't spend that much time with him. There was no cricket on the lawn, or fishing together at a nearby pond. We didn't even spend our holidays together as he preferred mountains, and my mother preferred beaches; I leaned towards my mother's taste.
So what did he give to me by way of legacy? Well, he sent me to good schools, he allowed me to use his tailor (generously picking-up the tab), and he taught me that there are certain standards in life that should always be upheld.
He also taught me to be kind in both act and spirit. I hear so many tales of parental brutality and pscyo-abuse that I am also extremely grateful that he was not amongst that ilk.
Father eventually became a double amputee (Diabetes), and for the last years of his life was wheelchair bound. I looked after him and his affairs for his final few years, and am now very pleased that I did so (I wasn't so pleased at the time; to put it mildly). He did a lot for me, and it was the least I could do to make sure he didn't spend his final years alone.
I've begun to look on my father much more kindly than maybe I had previously. He was a very private man. He loved his wine and whiskey, and his greatest pleasure (above all else) was seeing his investment portfolio doing well; a typical father really. I don't think that's too bad a memory.
Our parents lives were more private, my mum would often say to keep things to our selves, now everything is out there on show. Lovely post.ReplyDelete
That reminds me of a small boy I once saw being interviewed on TV. The interviewer asked if there was anything his mother had told him NOT to say. He replied "Yes, she told me not to say that she was pregnant".Delete
A fine man of his time. I have found myself thinking more kindly of my mother recently. I must be mellowing. My father is a memory of childhood only which is always a source of disappointment for me.ReplyDelete
Very interesting post. My father was from a different rung on the social class ladder (the idea of an investment portfolio was remote to say the least). However, what perhaps they had in common was a set of values. My father (born 1917 by the way) could be summed up as thoroughly decent: integrity, reliability, loyalty, honesty were all part of his character. A bit strict, but fair.ReplyDelete
Interesting post. You cause me to reflect that the relationship with our parents is something that hopefully changes over the years, and yet, especially if the parent was remote in some way, underlying it is the child-parent one that we began with. It's hard to shake it, like a default setting.ReplyDelete
Thoughtfully put together croReplyDelete
I espcially liked your tribute
"kind in both act and spirit."
And he was.Delete
He has an air of Simon F. about him in the photo.ReplyDelete
I see what you mean!Delete
Delurking to say I think that is a bl**dy good memoryReplyDelete
And you've taught me a new word.Delete
Your father sounds like a good man, worthy of respect. I think this was a nice tribute to him.ReplyDelete
Lovely memories of your Father Cro. At my Dads funeral 13 years ago, someone said to me your Dad was one of the last true gentlemen which I thought was a lovely thing to say. Both he and his Father before him would always do a kindness for someone if they could.ReplyDelete
Father was very much like that. I never heard him say a nasty word about anyone (unlike myself).Delete
Me too Cro :) it seems to have skipped a generation in our family. My son defends everyone and hasn't got a mean bone in his body. I should follow his excellent 10 year old example.ReplyDelete