Yesterday, I was standing knee deep in some Alpine shrubbery, breathing in and holding my best pose for a photoshoot, me being one of the reluctant models. My brother got the call our father had just died, much to the suprise of the two other lads we (my brother and I) were with, our reaction was a little vague, we didn't know what to think or how to take it, and still don't, it's a funny one to be honest. The irony was, we were at the site of a former Asylum - Storthes Hall in Huddersfield.
My Dad wasn't the best, I'll say that, not wanting to speak ill of the very recently deceased. But that's how it was, I'll spare strangers on the internet the finer details, but he was an alcoholic, manic depressive - a very ill man, selfish too though, for sure. I didn't have a great deal to do with him after we upped and left our lovely family home at the age of fifteen without a pot to piss in, having simply had enough. I probably only saw him a handful of times in the last ten years.
Working in Advertising in the 1980's at one point his salary was very good and would be still, even now, we got access to all the best fineline pens, layout pads, Letraset (remember that?) and Magic Markers we could. Our time was divided equally between drawing pictures as it was playing football on the fields or the street until it was too dark to see the ball and messing about with GI Joe figures too, of course.
The problem was he liked a drink, most of the men he worked with did too, half of them have died since aswell. There was definitely a culture there, so a day at work was followed by a night on the piss, not at the weekend though, no, every night. I can remember him literally crawling in, waking us up, falling asleep in the dog's bed under the kitchen worktop, then getting up, projectile vomiting, having a wash, putting a suit and aftershave on and going straight to Davenport Station, remarkable stuff, almost every day, like a crazy cycle, no good for anyone surely?
A talented artist in a time before computers really took over the world, pens and paper were still very much the main deal, he spent the first few years of my life working away in Saudi Arabia, hence the photo, we're not Arabs, like. This was when he came home one time and actually one of the only pictures I could find. An early memory for me was that I actually thought he was Magnum when he came home and not our Dad!
Things went tit's up in the 80's for lots of people, that cunt Thatcher, she takes some blame perhaps. Redundancy followed and things got worse, a couple of breakdowns and things weren't great, I may have touched on the summer of 1990 being a great time, his absence in hospital, not prison, coupled with the World Cup, Gazza's tears and two kids football mad as their own team were about to smash that decade in spectacular style.
People keep telling me after everything, 'He was your Dad...', yep, that's true, not a great one but the only one I had, as this is kind of my outlet on the interweb, I guess I should do some sort of tribute to his passing. One thing he gave to me and our kid, was our creative streak, the other an eclectic taste in music. At school we used to get dropped off every day, it wasn't far but it was his 'paranoid phase', we had a Rust coloured Ford Cortina which after a bad smash was replaced with a Grey Audi 80, the cassettes in the car if my Mum drove, was the likes of Motown, Northern Soul and a bit of Van Morrison, if it was Dad then it was always the likes of Talking Heads, The The, Frank Zappa and to me now, somewhat strangely lots of great hip hop from what I'd argue was it's best era, the likes of Ice-T and Public Enemy. I guess it wasn't all that strange as he was probably a similar age to me now, at that time, but it was a given that the other 'Dads' driving their kids to school were listening to much softer, easier shite.
I loved the swearing in the songs as any ten year old boy would, and would get tapes of these groups and NWA too, from Eastern Bloc in town simply because they were pretty much anti-everything and had the f-word in and play them after school, thus gaining kudos amongst my pals. My mates at school thought he was cool because he smoked draw in the kitchen listening to Cypress Hill in one of our Chicago Bulls caps, the only time he was sound, funnily enough. But, cider was cheaper of course. Oddly, I grew up sticking with the same music, I grew fond of the bands and some singles for sure, and will always like them. So from Brinnington to Saudi, via Stepping Hill and a nice family home to a council bedsit in Adswood, to the Market in Stockport, he went on his journey alone, arguably loved his drink more than he loved us, maybe it wasn't all his fault? but we'll never know now.