Thursday, March 06, 2008
Memories of Charlie
It struck me that since I did not attend my father's memorial it seems sort of apt to have a bit of a mention of him here. As this may be a bit of a sad post you might want to skip it and wait till the next installment of cocktails and misadventure. This picture is of my dad, taken the last time I visited him in Wales.
My dad was my hero. I'm sure that most boys think that but my dad really was like a hero. He was the strongest man I've ever met, he could wrestle horses to the ground, lift cars and crush walnuts in his huge knobbly hands.
Everyone loved him, he could sweet talk a flighty stallion in moments so that it would trust him enough to let him put a halter on it or calm an angry dog just by talking to it. Animals adored him it was like magic to watch and at every party he was right in the middle causing waves of laughter around him.
I remember our local pub got a new owner who wanted to turn the place into a centre for political and philosophical debate. This chap put a small stage at the end of the bar for people to stand on and hold court. Of course this was in a sleepy Devonshire village so no-one would do it. After hours of trying to get the locals to debate the owner offered a free drink to anyone who would talk. My dad immediately took the stage and said
'I'll have a Worthington'
Dad was amazing with machines. He could fix a car with an old pair of tights or half a tin of beans no-matter what the problem. He even made a motorbike from scratch using no-plan but the one in his own mind. Something I don't think you see much of these days. His workshop was an amazing place. It smelled of engine oil, welding and swarfega and everywhere you looked there would be strange devices and tools. Blues would always be playing loudly and he would smoke a cigarette slowly while rotating some broken bit of machinery in his hands trying to work out how to fix it. He always would.
My Dad could drink too. He didn't seem to have a problem with it, he could just put away an awful lot of booze and still seem at least vaguely sensible. I remember once he visited me at University and matched my entire flat of rowdy Scottish and Irish men (who were proud of their drinking ability) drink for drink and by the end of the night they were ruined and he was just smiling to himself. It was a flat with eight people in, big rugby playing chaps and they had all been drunk under the table at the same time by my Dad.
That's not to say we didn't have a complicated relationship. My dad was sent away to Eton at a young age and it walled him up to other people. So he was hard to understand in a meaningful sort of way. When my parents marriage broke up I didn't speak to him for five years but recently over the last year or so I'd started to get to build up a relationship again. Or at least have a relationship for the first time. We used to email each other and talk about motorbikes or other nonsense.
It was nice to finally get to know him, he was a nice chap.