(Originally written in 2014)
To look at my father is to look at a genius at work, he knows absolutely everything you ever need to know and will not hesitate to give you the answer you require, but be prepared for his answer because they are never the quick game show ones you might have been looking for. For example what would seem like a perfectly innocent question and could quite easily be Googled will turn into an hour long lesson.
‘Dad, who sang ‘Bad Moon Rising’’? Now any normal person would reply to this question with ‘Creedence Clearwater Revival’, however my dad is not a normal person, he will embark upon a twenty minute lesson on CCR, he will carry on with as much information as he possibly can think of; the year (and possibly the exact day) of release, who he was going out with at the time, what colour shirt she was wearing, what motorbike his next door neighbour was driving and which one of his friends had broken their leg/arm/nose/window that week.
The information will be given to you before an actual answer to your question. He will give you a run down on each member of the band and that proceed to tell you what was on the B-side of that particular single, ask you if you’ve seen the video or the clip from the film the song was used in and if you haven’t he will just have to find it for you on YouTube. However, it is because of his incessant need to impart musical wisdom that I have such excellent taste in said area.
We would listen to music in the car for every single journey, no matter how short, something which I still do now. The car always smelt like Tommy Hilfiger or WD40 both of which I love equally, they always make memories come flooding back.
WD40 makes me think more about his workshop, scattered with bits of electrical equipment, handheld radios, soldering irons, screwdrivers and a whole menagerie of dangerous things that enticed my brother, my friends and I.
It was immense fun using up rolls of solder to make little animals or just creating big blobs of the silver metal and leaving them laying all around the work benches, I can’t imagine it was much fun for my dad and his employees but it is something that always makes me smile.
I can’t recall many specific events in great detail from my childhood that involved my dad, I know he was always there though, I could always find him when I needed my questions answered.
Especially on a Sunday, I loved Sundays, there was always music playing on a Sunday, dinner would be cooking and my mum would have made something spectacular for pudding, one of our next door neighbours, Darvis, would stick his head through the kitchen window and would invite himself in for dessert.
Sunday was a day to play in the garden, run around chasing the cats or we’d go the bowling alley, my dad would boast about how good I was and we’d drink Slush Puppies and win a teddy on the grab machines on every turn, something that was actually possible back then!
When I think about my childhood and my parents I can’t really remember any really big important details, it’s all just snippets, some of which may be things I’ve just been told and think I remember; like the time my dad shot the icicles down from the front of the house; in my mind those icicles were about 4ft long and I was standing in the snow watching my dad fire at them with an air rifle (I think air rifle is right, I’m not up on my guns), I can’t imagine that this is actually true but I’ve kept that memory from somewhere.
One of my favourite things I remember was being carried up the stairs by my dad, we lived on the ground floor of a huge house (the house which we now live) and my Nana and Grandad had the next two floors, my brother and I used to stay with them quite often and my dad would carry us up the stairs in our sleeping bags and fling us over on to the sofa, if I close my eyes I can take myself back to being squished inside that sleeping bag feeling so safe and happy, getting plonked on the sofa in front of the fire ready to watch The Bill with a cup of sweet tea and hot buttered toast.
Some of the fondest memories are of the most mundane of things, sliding down the staircase in a sleeping bag springs to mind or just sitting watching television with my parents and my brother, half of the things we watched I didn’t understand or was too young to grasp the humour, I would pretend to like it or laugh along with everyone else just so I could stay up and watch when it was probably past my bedtime.
Grolsch and roasted peanuts remind me of Red Dwarf, Monty Python and Hitchhikers Guide, programmes which I now love, however back then I just wanted to be like my older brother, who at 5 years older than me probably grasped the humour better than me, although I have a sneaking suspicion that he too would sometimes fake the laughter.
It was very much the same when it came to films, my dad would be watching Aliens (1986), Commando (1985) , Indiana Jones (1981, 1984, 1989), films which I probably shouldn’t have been watching but I would sit quietly, maybe pretend I was asleep and hope nobody would notice me, usually I’d be scared depending on what we were watching, I wouldn’t say anything though in case I got sent to bed, where I’d just be even more scared, I would always miraculously wake up in my bed the next morning having no recollection of how I got there.
There are hundreds of things that trigger the most wonderful memories of my dad, Douwe Egberts coffee, Swarfega hand cleaner, anything by Simon and Garfunkel, and the smell of rain when it has been really hot; this always reminds me of our holidays to Florida.
When I think back over our trips abroad it’s not even the theme parks I remember the most, not that I didn’t enjoy them, I loved every second of visiting Disney and I’m very grateful for the experience but the best bits of the holiday were being in the pool, building a sandcastle, winning hundreds of tickets on the Skee ball at the arcade and buying lots of pencil sharpeners with them or driving to Walmart in the hire car, just me and my dad listening to oldies station and hearing Sam Cooke for the first time, music is obviously a huge part of my life, I wouldn’t be able to live without it and this is most definitely from the influence of my dad.
I love the way a certain song can make you feel, the memories it can bring back and the feelings it can trigger, it can be so powerful and moving and with most music that I have in my life now it is filled with great memories and even the ones that can make me cry are still amazing pieces of music and will always be part of my life, and I have my dad to thank for that.
I like to think that the films and music one is influenced by as a child have a major impact on the person they turn out to be.
My dad, and of course my mum too, has made the ultimate impression on me due to the musical and entertainment tastes in general.
My sense of humour, my sense of morals have all been moulded together from the awesomeness that is my dad. And even now after all of these years, even though I realise he doesn’t actually know everything, what he does know is all that is and ever was important because he has made me who I am and that is how my life has taken this certain path, a path which I am thoroughly enjoying travelling down and one which is full of excitement and adventure.
So when I am looking at my father I am also looking at myself and feeling extremely content with what I see.
There is a Paul Simon song called ‘Father and Daughter’, one of the lines from the song is ‘There could never be a father loves his daughter more than I love you’, my dad randomly emailed this song to me one day, he’s never mentioned it and I don’t think I mentioned it to him but that’s basically where my inspiration to write about my dad comes from, that song, he sent me a song I want to show him how much I love him by inviting the world to see how amazing he is.