Talking about my dad in just a few short moments was never going to be easy, summing up all that he was not just to us, his family, but to all the people that he touched in his life. He was a husband, a father, a colleague, a boss and a friend. And in all these different roles he was always a man with exemplary standards and someone who was, unfailingly, kind.
In gathering memories for this service my sisters and I all reflected on what an idyllic childhood we had. Typical of the 1970s Dad took us off for bracing walks whilst Mum stayed at home preparing Sunday dinner. Then on would go James Last and the perfect family scene was set. Music was always part of Dad’s life, starting with Rex and their discovery of Big Bands – played on a wind-up gramophone. He loved the Rat Pack and, as a man who never wore anything but a proper shirt, I’m sure he could relate to their tailoring as well as their music. Then, later in life, he expanded his musical repetoire with Jo introducing him to the delights of disco and his Dad-dancing skills coming firmly to the fore. For someone with the air of an old-fashioned gentleman about him, he could also embrace the new, as I’m sure Carol and the Martini girls will attest .
Dad was a proper dad, taking me to watch Brighton play – a flask of hot soup prepared for half time, helping me oil my first cricket bat and passing down the sage advice ‘Look after it, son’ and most importantly of all, buying my my first SLR camera and starting off my life-long love of photography. From giving me 50p for the first goal I scored for the school team, to taking me for a kick around on the field, Dad was always full of love, encouragement and kindness.
I know Carol and Jo can conjure up equally happy memories from the array of family outings and holidays we went on – on every trip Dad always managed to find a cul-de-sac and the girls even missed a Radio One roadshow due to one of these dead ends. And later in life Carol shared many happy times with him in France, putting the world to rights over a bottle or two, I’m not sure his French got any better despite the vin de table.
Dad wasn’t much of a cook himself, although he did like to make Spaghetti Carbonara – typical to his approach to life, the recipe was followed to the letter. He was a hater of sprouts and always hid his Christmas day ration under a bit of turkey. But, conversely, he had a secret fast food habit! Every Tuesday he’d treat himself to a MacDonalds Cheeseburger and fries – in fact Jo thinks the only reason he happily took her back to her student digs in Penge, was so that he could stop for a Maccy-D’s on the way.
As a grandfather, dad found a new role in life. Intelligent and interested he liked to engage with his grandchildren, always happy to listen and even happier to advise – apparently, giving tips on everything from the latest technology to suitable Christmas gifts for girlfriends. But most of all the impression he left on his grandchildren was one of unfailing positivity, he had a great sense of humour and tackled everything that life threw at him with aplomb.
He has had friendships that have lasted a whole lifetime and, even in the latter years, having lost his sight, he still managed to keep in touch with those that meant so much to him. Rex, Eileen and Nicky were only some of the people that made his life so rich and happy and dad knew the importance of having good friends and also being a good friend in return.
I know how easy it can be to look back on life through rose-coloured glassed, but Carol, Jo and I really don’t need to, as the reality was as perfect as any fantasy could be. From his lovely warm hugs, scented with Old Spice and Polo mints to his penchant for pink wafer biscuits, memories of Dad will always make us smile. All that we are is down to him and Mum and if we do half as good a job at raising our children, behaving at all times with grace and consideration and, above all, maintaining standards then I’m sure we’ll all be truly proud to have been anywhere near as wonderful as our dad.