From my father I inherited my imagination, my love of a good old-fashioned story, my sense of humor and —so I am told— my nose. But by his example, and probably quite unintentionally, he taught me many other things: how to be strong when times are tough, how to appreciate the simple things, how sometimes a good laugh is the best medicine, to always be ready to learn something new, and how nothing is ever so bad that you can't make it better.
Other important things I learned: never brew homemade beer in an airing cupboard full of clean bed sheets and towels; builders sand is not the same as sand for a children's play pit, and don't try to fart a full chorus of 'God Save the Queen' unless you're close to the bathroom.
Unfortunately, I never did learn his party-trick for dramatically pulling a tablecloth off the table and leaving all the plates, dishes and glasses intact. Maybe I'll try that next Christmas, in his honour.
My father did not have the benefit of much formal education. He was a country boy who left school at fourteen to become a blacksmith's apprentice and then a fireman. But he never lost an eager curiosity for learning, right up to the later years of his life when he mastered the computer to write his memoirs— and play a great many bloodthirsty war games. When we were younger, and came home from school with scabby knees and tattered books in our satchels, he always wanted to know what we'd learned that day. He was a voracious reader and a "sponge" when it came to learning new things. I often wonder how far he might have gone, what else he might have done with his life, if he had access to more education. I think he would have been a writer. He certainly had a lot of stories to tell and he told them well, as only he could.
So today I lost my dad. But he hasn't gone far. I'm sure he's watching me write this and tomorrow, when I wake up to another new day, he'll be looking over my shoulder again to see what I come up with next.
I hope he approves, because without him and the encouragement he always gave me, I wouldn't be here. See, dad? It's all your fault!
Love you xxx