Monday, 29 March 2010

For my Dad

My dad was born on 12th June 1926 in Walthamstow, later moving to the North Circular in Edmonton. He attended Latymer School in Edmonton, a notoriously difficult school to get into. He was an only child and his parents were very proud of him. He joined the army and served two tours in Cairo towards the end of WWII in the Royal Medical Corps as a clerical officer
He met my mum and they were married on 5th March 1955 at Christchurch, Southgate. They made a beautiful couple.They set up home together in a bungalow in Potters Bar, Hertfordshire.

Dad was initially employed as an insurance clerk, later moving to the Civil Service to work in the Treasury Solicitor's Department. Over the years he studied and attained the position of Higher Executive Officer where he remained until his retirement in the 1980s. This was obviously in the days when a "job for life" still existed.

In 1959 my brother was born
And in 1961 I came along. I love this pic! On the very day I was born, my Dad passed his driving test.

Dad was not a "touchy feely" sort of person, but I was always secure in the knowledge that I was loved by both my parents. Dad was always there for you, he was always willing to advise without forcing his views on you. Growing up, my brother and I had a really good childhood and we never wanted for anything, although we weren't well off by any means. We always had a summer holiday, mostly camping or staying on a farm in Cornwall, and also a weeks holiday on a boat on the Norfolk Broads or canals.

Christmastime and some of the boating holidays were spent with the family of Dad's "best man" and I have many wonderful memories as a result of this happy time.Mum and Dad enjoyed rambling and I remember lots of jaunts into the countryside with Dad striding ahead with his Ordnance Survey map at the ready.

When I was ten or eleven we moved to a bigger house in Potters Bar which had an enormous garden, backing onto fields. (Later they built the M25 two fields away!). The size of the garden meant it required many hours to keep it in good shape. There were plenty of opportunities for a bonfire to burn the cut down bushes and brambles. I loved those bonfires and spent ages poking a long stick into the white hot centre to watch it burn - strange child!

(It was at this time that I was allowed to start horseriding, but much to my frustration Dad would never entertain the idea of a pony of my own, grrr!)

Dad was an old fashioned type of guy who took the role of head of the household seriously, liking to keep a firm hand on the finances. Mum studied at the Royal College of Music and became a piano teacher and an Associate of the Royal College of Music and earned her own money which she paid into her own bank account - much to Dad's chagrin!.

He had a great interest in classical music and over the years built up a huge collection of records which he later had to replace with CDs, giving in to "modern technology" very reluctantly.

His handwriting was incredibly neat and when he retired he took classes in Calligraphy and produced some lovely decorated pieces. Mum tried to get him to have some framed and put them on the walls but, ever the perfectionist, he always maintained they weren't good enough.

Through the years Mum and Dad belonged to a social club which originated from a youth club which members were required to leave when they were considered too old (ie. about 20). The members who left the youth club formed this new club so that they could continue to meet and do various activities together (and think up new excuses to have a party).

This club is still going today, albeit slightly less energetically, with some of the original founder members still attending. The club was a very big part of Dad's life, with some of its members becoming very close, lifelong friends. How amazing to have so many friends for this length of time.

An early photo of the club members all dolled up in their glad rags. Dad is about eighth from the left in the back row and Mum is second from left of the ladies seated.

In 2002 after about five years of trying, I managed to persuade Dad that it would be a good idea to move to Bedfordshire to live closer to our family. I mentioned in passing, a few times, that houses would be much cheaper and they could have a similar size house and have money to spare from the sale of the Potters Bar house. Eventually this argument won out and they moved to Shefford, only 15 minutes drive from us. They never regretted it and, in fact, wished they'd moved years previously. Stubborn old Dad, didn't like the idea of change.

A happy holiday in the 1970s
and 1980s

working in the garden at Potters Bar.

My wedding day

Mum and Dad
Dad's funeral was on 25th March 2010. My 15 year old daughter, Jasmine, read Life Goes On by Joyce Grenfell and my 20 year old son, Alex, read All is Well by Henry Scott Holland. It was extremely emotional but my children did their grandfather proud. We sang Praise my Soul the King of Heaven and Lord of all Hopefulness, Lord of All Joy. The music played was Chanson de Matin, Elgar, Nimrod, Elgar and Air from Suite 3 in D, Bach. The service was taken by the daughter of my Dad's Best Man who has obviously known him since she was a child and made it a lovely, personal, service.

I loved my Dad very much indeed. I only hope that he knew how much he was loved. Not being a very demonstrative person himself we, as a family were, similarly, not demonstrative generally.

I am so sad that he has gone, but I know now that he is at peace. May God rest his soul.


  1. Jooles, what a lovely tribute. Your parents made a very handsome couple. What wonderful memories you have. Your father absolutely knew how much he was loved - you can see it in his kind and smiling face.

  2. That was a beautiful tribute to your dad! I have tears in my eyes.

  3. What a wonderful tribute to your father! It seems that he had a great life, and a terrific family! I loved the pics too....

  4. PS... Although not demonstrative, I think he knew how much you loved him. Totally sure. And he is looking out for you from above now too....