Me and Dad (1972 ish)
Today is the day we all troop up to my parents house in a little village just outside Shrewsbury and have a birthday BBQ. Bizarrely the sun always shines (I can't remember a year when we have been rained off), and today looks to be the same. My Dad is 81 today.
I have lovely memories of my Dad. He is an old school Dad, he went to work as an Insurance Inspector, whilst my Mum stayed at home (she was not a traditional stay at home Mum, but more of that another day), but there was more to him than that.
He used to come home at tea time, and then read us a story at bedtime. Winnie the Pooh mostly, with a bit of Paddington thrown in. He would sing the Ums of Pooh properly, he still does occasionally now, but he is more likely to be seen with a grand daughter on his lap reading and re-enacting We are Going on a Bear Hunt
I remember my Dad coming in late from things but still coming up to kiss us good night, you could smell whisky and cigars on his breath.
I remember all the family holidays camping so that we could save up to go on holiday to Canada. Dad didn't really like camping, that was Mum's thing. There was quite a bit of grumbling, but he loved wondering around new places and finding things, be it a tumble down castle to a stream full of cows.
I remember the smell of honey as my Mum and Dad extracted the honey from the hives...yummy.
I remember Dad impersonating Spike Milligan singing, 'I'm walking backwards for Christmas'.
I remember the first time Dad got one of his plays published - The Banky Field is still in print and is a musical for schools (I was in it, at school). He had been re-writing the village Panto for years so this was a HUGE success. We were all really proud. Dad went onto to write other plays and musicals. My favourite is Cinnabar which is a ghost story.
He also acted in things, I have seen him be anything from Falstaff to the Dame in panto (my brother does this now), then he moved on to the directing and writing.
When he retired he decided to write a book. He has just managed to get it published. Keep your eyes open for the Cheshire Ring, it is out soon. So inspiring. It is never too late.
My Dad is a bit of a romantic, for years Dad brought Mum one antique stained glass, wine glass, for their anniversary, each one a different colour to make up a set of twelve. They were so expensive he could only afford one a year. On their twenty-fifth wedding anniversary he took me to help him choose a necklace for Mum, she still wears it now. it's beautiful. Mum and Dad have been married for 54 years.
When I went to college he wrote me a letter every week. (This was back in the day of slow mail). I still have every one. I am sure there is a novel in there somewhere.
He calls me pruneling, janeykins, janey...there are very few who could get away with that!
Whenever I split up from boyfriends, he was always there, always saying the right things ('I never liked them', 'You're too good for him') but never interfered, even when he knew they were absolutely rubbish. He knew I had to find this out for myself.
I remember him saying, 'You must find a nice man, like me'. I did....eventually.
All in all my Dad is fab..he is now a brilliant Grandad (the grandchildren call him Bopa), he loves them more than anything else and shows them how to fish froglets out of his pond and points out the best places for bugs and things in his garden.
Where are the Froglets?
He is the best Dad, I still ask his advice about all sorts of things, I am looking forward to many more Father's Days/Birthdays with him.
And to see what he will do next.