This may mean nothing to you but my life changed with these numbers; my dad died then.
This head ache has been following me around for a few weeks now and over the years I have come to expect it, my subconscious is fighting a battle with my conscious not to let me get upset and break down in floods of tears. My heart ache is repeated year after year since my dad’s passing, I try to push it to one side but it just slowly creeps back in like the cancer that killed him. My concentration is not good around the anniversary of his death but this year is special; I am going to be his age when he died.
I don’t know if that has bothered anyone else who’s dad or mam died young but is has haunted me for a few years now as it has crept closer and closer to the day. When dad died, he had done so much in his life from being a teddy boy and good amateur boxer, he was so good he got asked to turn pro but became a marine engineer because he had to have a trade to fall back on, as it was not a proper job (where have I heard that before?) As a marine engineer, he travelled all over the world from Argentina to Ghana then back to work in a factory he had worked in many years before, he had gone full circle in his career; from North shields to the world and back to North Shields.
His Family life was centre around the Infamous Lynn Club, with the whole family spending large amounts of our life in and around it’s many rooms, me having a great time every Sunday morning on the stage playing the drums (badly) and pulling the bingo balls from the machine and making up different names for the numbers. One Christmas day the’ turn’ did not turn up, so as I was a budding comedian and impressionist I got my first paid gig at the age of about 8 years old to a packed house and my cowboy hat that I loved to wear was passed around the concert room and was full to the brim, but to my disappointment I had to share with my sister (she did nowt for it); If you have seen me teach you could say I still preform today.
When my dad would ring from Argentina, we would all huddle around the phone to have a few minutes and I would hear tales of Gauchos and military police riding their horses into bars and when he was in Ghana watching rituals of killing a chicken to ward off evil spirits and the local witch doctor doing the honours.
When dad was home the pub hours like many men of that era would be the order of the day timed to perfection. He would finish 4 nightshifts on Friday morning go to sleep then up for 12 off to the pub until 3pm finish home tea nap back out until 11.30pm (if you don’t get a lock in) Saturday and Sunday repeated, but every Sunday morning taking us all winkle picking at Seaton sluice or swimming in Blyth Pool. When we went, winkle picking the day would be like this.
We would all get up to the sound of Elvis or Queen blasting on our state of the art, chest like record player that was about 4-foot-long with a turn table and a gap to put all your LP’s in. Old clothes were put on with your wellies and buckets and off we would go. The cliff path was crumbling and was about to fall and the drop would be about 40 foot but when you were a kid it is all an adventure, so we would hunt for winkles and crabs to put in our buckets and throw seaweed at each other and get back up to the top before the tide came in or the pub opened. Then dad would be off to North Shields for the afternoon then home for a Sunday dinner with Mam on standby trying to keep the food hot and hope dad caught the bus on time or the food would be cold and she would only get 6/10 for the dinner.
After a nap dad, would get up and we would all have a Tea tea as we called it, you know what I mean, when you put out ham sandwiches and boiled eggs with cocktail sausages and chocolate fingers and if you were lucky fruit salad and ice-cream. Dad would have a wash and brush up and back out for the Sunday night session. Growing up in the 70’s, 80’s and even into the early 90’s this was the cultural for many household. Saturday Night was couple’s night were parents went out and kids stayed in normally with a babysitter until you could look after yourselves, fighting and trying to make toast and drinking all the pop in the house even when you had just you’re your favourite of Sykes the pop man that morning. I used to hear tales of my dad sorting out someone in the back alley, as he was a noted fighter, but as kid I did not get what that meant until I was a little older. (this also sounds strangely familiar)
As a family, we had hard times and good times, sometimes with no money and sometimes loads of money (Harry Enfield) with dad driving around in his jaguar or Granada. His cars were a passion of his, always underneath the bonnet and getting oily with sets of spanners all over the place, I love cars but I don’t know how to fix them but I do try to learn. I loved watching him work I would spend hours just sitting watching, it still gives me the warm feeling inside when I think about it.
This may seem odd what I have told you but My Dad’s Life, a life that was full but far too short; On the day of his funeral as we came into Tynemouth crematorium, It was my mam, with tears in her eyes pointing out some of the people that filled the sides path leading to the crematorium, saying name after name and said “half of shields is here” I said “no it looks like most of shields is here “ there were people from all over the country attended the funeral and the wake was amazing, we danced sang and drank and I gave the toast saying dad would have loved the party atmosphere that day; we remembered him as in life living it to the full!
As I hit this fateful day I feel that I have so much more left in my life to find out about, live and love, it breaks my heart to even think about how dad felt leading up to his death, I don’t think he had enough of life because it is no age to be taken away, he had so much more life to live.
This changed me in so many ways (my brother Martin and sister Sharon and my amazing mam Gillian) we have all carried this with us through the years passing on the stories to our kids and keeping him alive in our lives. I always find it hard to talk about even now and the pain is always just under the surface and that bloody bad head, when I let it out I cry floods of tears and break down with my chest hurting from trying to be brave; but I am not brave I am sad.
Treat each day as a gift from whoever you believe in, love life and tell people you love them, don’t wait to do things, or say things, pick people up when they are down or just listen to them, believe me it helps. Inspire people with your words and deeds, go to the places you want to go, don’t be afraid to work hard but also enjoy your life, love your family time because it is gone in an instant. Try not to hate, if people don’t like you or do something to hurt you are your business, let them go it is a reflection on their character not yours; don’t carry their rubbish, let them carry their own. Live life in the now and don’t dwell too much in the past and the future is yours for the taking. Every day of life is a blessing because far too many people have been taken too soon!
I am far from finished in my path
Live your life love your path
And enjoy getting there!
Love you dad xxx