In My Father’s Words
03/07/1938 – 18/10/2018
Writing Class Submission 2003
Why do human beings do certain things? God knows! The answer is, I suppose, because we are human beings. After meeting our basic needs, of food, clothing and shelter, our humanity points us in different directions to achieve the seven stages of man, or whatever the hell they are called. So what, I hear you cry, is all that to do with our little writing group. Well, hang on, I’m getting to that.
As we go through life, there are a number of challenges into which we bump, sometimes successfully, sometimes not. Like the rest of us, I went to school. Well, OK, then, that’s not strictly true. I was sent to school. Unlike, I guess, some children, but, I suspect, exactly like many others, I wasn’t all that terribly involved in this process. Most of the subjects were peripheral to my interests, at best, even if the meaning of the word was unknown to me at the time. However, the years rolled on, and when it came for me to leave school I had developed an affinity for History, Geography and yes, English. This is, I think, called Sod’s Law.
It was too late, I had to find a job, and I had discovered girls, the latter often necessitating the former. The next twenty or so years were fully occupied with raising children, paying the mortgage and putting food into mouths. Along the way I tried to be a responsible citizen, and ran the political spectrum from voting Labour, through the Liberals of Jeremy Thorpe to being a fan of Maggie. I once asked Jeremy a question at a political meeting. No, it was about politics. I also had lunch with Glynis Kinnock and drank white wine with Mrs T. If pressed, I will admit that there were thirty other people at the do with Kinnock’s missus, and some three hundred sipping Chablis with the Iron Lady.
I wore the Queen’s uniform and fought in someone else’s war. As we said at the time, for Queen and Country. Our Queen, their Country.
Basic needs satisfied, my ambitions wandered around looking for other peaks. Julia Roberts, Gwyneth Paltrow and Claudia Schiffer always featured high up on these peaks. Never scaled, alas! Nor did my ambition to be called upon to open the batting for England at Lords and score a hundred before lunch against the Aussies on the Saturday of the Test Match. Many red-blooded males were similarly disappointed, and not only by the cricket.
Some more achievable targets were reached. One was giving my daughter away on her wedding day. This was such an honour, she allowed me to do it twice. Falling in love completely, for the first time in my life, some thirty years after getting married and divorced was a never to be repeated experience. I got my Jaguar, some thirty-six years after drooling over the sexy E Type at Earls Court in 1961. So many years wasted, but there will never be another car but the Big Cat until I die.
I wanted to hike in the Himalayas. I did. I wanted to see a tiger in the wild. I did. I wanted to visit every country in the world. Hands up! I failed that one. The score stands at 122.
And I wanted to write. Why? I hope it doesn’t sound pretentious, but I felt I had something to say. We all have, the trick is persuading someone else that they want to read it. So at long last we get to our writing group. I have now completed my second full year, and also had a few weeks before I toddled off to earn a bob or two in South Africa.
Two heads are reputedly better than one, ergo, fifteen must be better than two, and make that sixteen if we count Sam. As some of us may accept, the group has also become something of a social gathering, which adds to its attraction. I enjoy the writing, and, in particular, I enjoy the challenge of trying, not always successfully, of trying to write on the given topic. This can be annoying and frustrating, as I would prefer the easy option of writing on Tigers, Jaguars, Wellington or Russian girls.
The discipline of constructing a piece on a subject about which I know little is a worthy challenge. It requires imagination, research, and frequently a decision to approach the work from an entirely different, and sometimes obtuse angle. All these exercises stretch one, and make a better writer to return to the self-selected topics.
Within the bounds of acceptable behaviour, my fellow writers offer, usually, constructive comments. Sometimes I disagree with them, more often I wince and recognise the truth. From them, I hear the thoughts or musings of up to fifteen others, sometimes expressed mundanely, sometimes amusingly, sometimes emotionally, but always, or nearly always interestingly. Sometimes I think, ‘That’s a load of cobblers’, but everyone has tried, and everyone deserves the courtesy of constructive dialogue.
After a while, it is possible to discern certain styles from people; Harry’s apparently unconnected wanderings, loosely woven around a central theme, Judith’s often crisp, well constructed and amusing pieces; June’s wild and zany humour, Beth’s wandering bears and flat faced angel, and Jade’s courage. I do frequently learn much from you and think to myself, ’I wish I had written that.’ Thank you all.
Written by my Father B.M