An e-mail was in my box this morning from Pinterest to encourage me to get my father to make a ‘wish list’ for Father’s Day. As I don’t believe in ghosts or the afterlife that would be rather difficult as he died in early 1980, he was 72. So I am putting together a Pinterest board for and about him (http://pinterest.com/timdiggles/red/) which I will add to as time goes on.
I have written a few things in my poetry about the grief I felt at the time (click the link on this page). There is no sadness now after all he would have been 105 this year! For me it was more a case that at 25 I had only just grown up, gone was the teenage rebellion and a more considered rebellion stirred in my head. I hadn’t really talked to him, for instance about why throughout his life he had been a vegetarian, and I think we all regret not talking more to our parents, when they die we have so many unanswered questions. I knew his love of music, especially Bach and his considerable ability not only to play but compose, he could write music without hearing it and know a piece of music from a score; his painting and drawing; walking and climbing; a love and detailed knowledge of organs, railways, astronomy, maps, sailing ships. He had been a lecturer in Maths and was a brilliant student going to University even though his father worked on the railways, unusual in the 1920’s. He was quite stunning in his mathematical ability, that is not just a son talking, and was able to do considerable complex calculations in his head. I don’t know if it was showing off, but he beat the early computers in calculations and used to look at car number plates and tell you all sorts of mathematical things about the numbers and letters.
There was a distant side to him and an inability to appreciate newer music, art, film and I never knew him to read a novel. Things were facts. However he encouraged my working in art and the abstract questioning which came through that, and I remember the pride he had when he came to Cardiff College of Art for my degree show.
Father’s Day wasn’t really something that we did, it seems to have become a big thing in the past ten years or so, another way to sell trash and cards. I often think that with his abilities he could have done more, he taught in schools before going to the Technical College which then morphed into a Polytechnic and is now Staffordshire University. But he was devotedly happily married and keenly pursued his interests. I remember how good he was as a musician, he played a few times as accompanist to Kathleen Ferrier when she performed at the Victoria Hall, and played the organ every Sunday at church, putting together a considerable body of music following the church calendar. So he did what he wished, his teaching gave him the resources to pursue maybe what he really wanted to do, he could easily have worked in ‘The City’ and made a fortune, but he played his music, studied trains, painted his watercolours and even had his own pipe organ at home, so maybe that is the lesson he taught.