On the last Friday in January of last year, the sun rose but my heart could not. My father had passed away overnight.
This weekend marks the first anniversary of our loss and I’d like to honour it by remembering a few of the things that my father so loved in life.
Potatoes in every way, shape or form.
Books by the Mitford girls.
Whisky Galore (Ealing comedy).
Taggart (when Mark McManus was still the star).
Single Malt Whisky.
Classical music and jazz.
Eating out (sadly, something he couldn’t do in recent years).
English Breakfast tea.
Old Times Lime Marmalade.
**do you see how I might have inherited some of my passions from this man?**
Another passion of Dad’s was John Betjeman’s poetry. Dad introduced me to it and we both loved the following poem. I was tempted to read it at his funeral, but it didn’t seem right at the time so here it is to help us smile a year on.
Indoor Games Near Newbury
In among the silver birches,
Winding ways of tarmac wander
And the signs to Bussock Bottom,
Tussock Wood and Windy Break.
Gabled lodges, tile-hung churches
Catch the lights of our Lagonda
As we drive to Wendy’s party,
Lemon curd and Christmas cake
Rich the makes of motor whirring
Past the pine plantation purring
Come up Hupmobile Delage.
Short the way our chauffeurs travel
Crunching over private gravel,
Each from out his warm garage.
O but Wendy, when the carpet
Yielded to my indoor pumps.
There you stood, your gold hair streaming,
Handsome in the hall light gleaming
There you looked and there you led me
Off into the game of Clumps.
Then the new Victrola playing;
And your funny uncle saying
“Choose your partners for a foxtrot.
Dance until it’s tea o’clock
Come on young ‘uns, foot it feetly.”
Was it chance that paired us neatly?
I who loved you so completely.
You who pressed me closely to you,
Hard against your party frock.
“Meet me when you’ve finished eating.”
So we met and no one found us.
O that dark and furry cupboard,
While the rest played hide-and-seek.
Holding hands our two hearts beating.
In the bedroom silence round us
Holding hands and hardly hearing
Sudden footstep, thud and shriek
Love that lay too deep for kissing.
“Where is Wendy? Wendy’s missing.”
Love so pure it had to end.
Love so strong that I was frightened
When you gripped my fingers tight.
And hugging, whispered “I’m your friend.”
Goodbye Wendy. Send the fairies,
Pinewood elf and larch tree gnome.
Spingle-spangled stars are peeping
At the lush Lagonda creeping
Down the winding ways of tarmac
To the leaded lights of home.
There among the silver birches,
All the bells of all the churches
Sounded in the bath-waste running
Out into the frosty air.
Wendy speeded my undressing.
Wendy is the sheet’s caressing
Wendy bending gives a blessing.
Holds me as I drift to dreamland
Safe inside my slumber wear.