A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…
I got dragged to Birmingham when I was nine years old to see Star Wars. It’s the first film I remember my parents (and specifically my Dad) taking me to see. The old man took me to see Raiders of the Lost Ark and Close Encounters of the Third Kind and so many other good movies over the years. Star Trek and Star Wars, Conan and Commando; the list went on and on. The last film we saw together at the cinema was Kingdom of the Crystal Skull a few years back but between my Dad and my Great Uncle I was set on a certain path with my taste in movies that still holds true to this day.
One big thing I remember from my childhood was the music that always filled the house on a Sunday morning. Music was important to my parents and I went to a lot of concerts with my Dad over the years. It wasn’t always my thing (my taste runs to Rock) but I got to see the Everly Brothers and Chuck Berry and the Crickets, The Eagles, The Dixie Chicks and Garth Brookes and so many other great artists (and a few stinkers) too. The music stays with you long after the the show has ended and when I hear a familiar song it never fails to raise a smile and old memories of good times.
My Dad liked fishing; I like fishing. My Dad loved Wales and so do I. He liked dogs and flying kites and steam trains, Monty Python and the Goons and these too are things I have in common with him. I guess what I’m trying to say is that the things that made him who he was and the things he loved are a part of me.
My Dad passed away this year, and this is the first Christmas without my parents. In some ways it’s a natural thing, time passes, we get older and we inevitably lose the people we love. On the other hand it does feel strange to not have my Dad around any more. When Tom Petty died the first thought I had was to tell my Dad, but of course he was already gone himself. That caught me out because something that I had taken for granted (the ability to talk to my Dad whenever I wanted) was suddenly gone from my life. It was a weird realisation and even now, months later it doesn’t feel quite right somehow.
This time last year my Dad had been in hospital for several months and he spent large chunks of that time complaining bitterly that they didn’t serve “proper food”. My dad’s taste ran to old fashioned; tripe, liver and other assorted things that I know I couldn’t eat even if they were part of a bushtucker challenge! On Christmas morning I smuggled him in duck dripping on toast (stop making faces! It’s yummy!) and duck pate, both of which he munched down with relish. And of course on New Year’s Eve I sat and chatted for hours with him while we sipped whiskey and ginger beer (yes, I’m a rebel and a bad influence!).
This year I can’t do these things, but I’ll raise a glass (or three) in his memory and remember the good times (and the bad), the music and the films and the food…