Dad worked as a bus driver, quite often taking on extra shifts to bring in money in so we could have the things we needed. Bev recalls “When I was small I remember that I didn’t see him a great deal as he was often up for the early shift, before I awoke in the morning and came in late after I had gone to bed! Jacqui would probably get to see a little more of him as she was older than me”.
"...he was always quoting verses
from The Lady of Shallot"
This tale was relayed to Jacqui by Granny High, “I was only 18 months old and was grizzling on her sofa and nothing she or mum did made me stop. Dad sat down beside me and opened up a book of Tennyson poems. From there he read me The Lady of Shallot. The whole poem. I stopped my grizzling and I sat spell bound by his voice and the poem. The metre and cadence of it must have soothed me. It remains one of my favourite poems and one that I loved Dad to read to me when I was growing up”.
Bev recalls that “When I was young he was always quoting verses from The Lady Of Shallot or The Pied Piper to me. So we had a steady exposure to literature from an early age! He got quite affronted one day when I returned from school having just been read a ‘fluffy’ meaningless ‘love poem’ by a current ‘poet’, when I announced that ‘poetry was soppy’ He then got out Wilfred Owen’s ‘Dulce Et Decorum Est’ which he asked me to read. After this I was well and truly silenced on the subject of all ‘poetry being soppy’. This really laid the foundations for me enjoying poems and many different poets”.
"...Making us giggle
and shrek with
As small children at Granny High’s bungalow in Tankerton, Kent, where we spent our holidays in the summer, we played in the huge garden. One thing we loved was to climb into the old wheelbarrow and get Dad to push us round the garden and up a small grassy slope. We asked him to run as fast as he could so the bump made us bounce, making us giggle and shriek with laughter. We’re sure we exhausted him but he did it as often as he could. At other times he would push us around the overgrown part of the garden, sometimes together, sometimes on our own, telling us stories of living in jungles or on alien planets.
One of Bev’s earliest memories “Is of me in my pushchair on a bright, crisp autumn morning and he would push me over the Long Path, which was quite near to Canterbury West station. On the way he would run and push me through the fallen, dry autumn leaves so I could hear them rustle and crackle. Next he would run under the brick tunnel, which ran under the railway, over the grating which made a dreadful noise, but I loved it, laughing loudly often pleading with my father to do it all again, which he did so many times. As my father at this point was in his early 50’s it must have been quite an effort for him, an example of what a doting father would do to please his daughter!”
"He encouraged us to
enjoy our childhood,
so rare today"
Sometimes, as a family of four, Dad would take Mum, and both of us out of Canterbury for a drive round Kent on Sundays. We would get in the car and he’d ask “Which way shall we go today?” One of us would just point in a direction and we’d set off. Once outside of Canterbury he’d ask the question again and we’d repeat the reply. We never really knew where we’d end up. We went for the drive, to see the scenery and find new places. Dad always encouraged us to make up adventures in our imagination in the places we arrived at. Be it woods populated by wild animals or landscapes created by natures’ forces or even hiding in caves from alien invaders. He encouraged us to enjoy our childhood, so rare today.
"You're a better poet
than I am
Jacqui writes poetry, and has done since she was 15. Dad always read it and was honest in his opinion about it. She recalls “One day he read one, I cannot remember which, and he put it down quietly and seriously. “That’s it,” he said resignedly, “You’re a better poet than I am, I won’t write poetry to compete with you”. That meant a lot to me. I had been a member of Canterbury Writer’s Club as a teenager for a time. Dad was invited to judge some work and give a talk on writing. As his daughter I couldn’t enter my work but we all read something. On the way home Dad said “Yours was the best thing there by far, you could do better than that place, look forward and believe in yourself.”’
As we got older and more articulate we discovered that he loved to talk! Not to you, but with you and discuss a wide range of subjects, ranging from religion, politics, books, poetry, war, music, films, spiritualism, life after death and many others.
"...by this time I had collapsed
in a heap, in fits of laughter"
Dad had a good sense of humour and used to enjoy recounting tales of a misspent youth with his friend called Donald. He occasionally indulged in mildly shocking acts that used to infuriate my mother. The house in King Street, Canterbury, where we lived, was in a row of terraced houses, with the front door opening straight onto the street. For a while we were very prone to youths running by and knocking the door-knocker on the door very loudly, making everyone jump and frightening my mother’s budgerigars.
One day after a particularly bad day for this happening, our father, by the second knock was up out of his chair and at the door using a turn of speed we didn’t know he still had in him! He wrenched open the door just in time to see the youths about to run away, Dad for the lack of a better word, gave them the big V sign, suffice to say it was not the victory sign! Bev recalls ‘I remember standing by the door as all this happened with my mother clinging to the back of the sofa for support, her face a pale ashen colour, while she wailed about ‘what would our neighbours think and how shocking it all was’ by this time I’d collapsed in a heap, in fits of laughter. Dad at this point was approaching 70 which made it seem even funnier”.
"Dad believed in finding out
about subjects before
proclaiming knowledge of them"
He loved to learn about new technology that had been developed, and as we grew up in an age where technology really started to influence the world more and more he would ask endless questions about, videos, cds, fax machines, computers etc, wanting to know what they could do and how they worked, he even went on a course to learn about computers in his 80’s!
Dad believed in finding out about subjects before proclaiming knowledge of them, but would happily discuss any subject with anyone, sometimes just so he could learn more. He was very friendly, social and approachable and because of this ability to be interested in so many subjects and people he amassed many friends and colleagues from all ages and walks of life. He also had an empathy with people he liked, he listened and tried to help them in their lives in any way he could. Bev recalls ‘He always knew when something was bothering me, even if I’d not said anything, whether I spoke to him on the telephone or face to face.
Dad had a simple philosophy he said “In life do want you want and what makes you happy, but try and make sure that you don’t hurt other people.” However, he was a realist and said life isn’t always straight forward and clear cut.
We have so many memories of our late father, along with a deep profound love and respect of his life and achievements. Thank you Dad - for all of this.
We miss you - with all our love
Jacqui & Beverley