Sunday 12 February 2012

An English Artist in England

Dad and Mum, Blackpool 1946

My dear old Dad passed away in January. I'd flown over to deal with Family Matters (it's a long story which would best belong to the world of Charles Dickens) and he died a few days later. It's as though he waited for me.
Here was a man who was down-to-earth and practical, yet an incurable dreamer and a poet.
For us as children, and for his grandchildren, he blurred the lines between reality and fantasy, creating the magical childhood that he himself had missed.

There were fairies at the bottom of the garden- to say there weren't meant one would die! Ghost riders roamed the skies, highwaymen rode down ribbons of moonlight to their deaths, and Gypsy Rovers came over the hill.
On Friday evenings (it was pay day from 'The Motors') there were sugar mice with string tails for us, and the Beano and the Dandy.
Pink milk with coconut on top was a cure for crying last thing at night, or he would plan to make 'tear butties' from our weepings, which turned to smiles at the thought.
But he would warn us of The Boy Who Cried Wolf, and against excessive noise he would recite darkly:

Father heard his children scream

So he threw them in the stream

Saying as he drowned the third

Children should be seen, not heard.”

Harry Graham, poet

He took care to treat his daughters equally, without favouritism, and made each of us feel loved for herself.

As I grew up, he was protective and ambitious for me.

Bad school reports would bring threats of being made to work in the Mill, or, strangely, Woolworths- I quite fancied the sweet counter myself!

Although Dad mostly, like his Gypsy Rover, whistled and sang his way through life, he had a fondness for sentimental verse and song- Nobody's Child, Old Shep, and sad poems that he would delight in quoting freely.... to anyone at hand.

Adults were plied with his home-brewed wine, a variable selection ranging from sheer ambrosia to downright undrinkable.

I'll raise an imaginary glass to him- from one of his better bottles- to Vic, Dad, Uncle Vic, Grandad, Great Grandad... warm-hearted, generous, sometimes annoying, intelligent....

In the RAF, India

A small man, with a big heart !

With his grand-daughters