1 Introduction – 2018

I have explained, on the front page, some of the differences between this site and that of a weblog.

In the years since I began to construct and fill this site, I have grappled with a series of concerns. In summary, why is this not a coherent account, why is there not more in Dad’s own words, and what is the point of recording details of a life that is now long-ended?

Firstly, this is not a coherent account by choice. I suppose I could write one if necessary, because of the way in which it is being written. Much of it is prompted by memories – mostly my own (q.v.) – and odd associations – places visited, conversations and occasional documents. If there was a scope for a biography, my musings provide some material, but they are mainly fragments. A biography, would, I feel, be too complete, somehow, and maybe both too final and too superficial. No life is finally completed while somebody remembers that person, and sometimes even beyond that time.

Secondly, Dad wrote a great deal at work, and composed speeches for various organisations, but rarely was anything kept. He kept only a calendar-type diary for two separate years, and there is little of personal interest in these. (That has not prevented me from attempting to excavate any possible clues or meanings!) To reconstruct a life without personal papers is to not only engage in speculation, but to rely upon it. But the absence of much direct evidence has made this necessary. In many ways, therefore, these are my memoirs of him, and a life partly shared with him. My accounts of canal trips from 1963 to 1977 with him are largely my memories, reinforced with his photographs.

This leads to my third and final concern. What is the point of all this – one older man setting down half-memories of another older man? Why should anyone be interested? There are family members and friends who may have known Dad or knew or know people who knew him. At least one person has contacted me whose later father had known him. But this is not much of an audience, and hardly one that will expand.

I would therefore tentatively suggest that this might have a slightly wider interest. My father was from the upper middle-class, and shared the lifestyle of many of his class, albeit in his own way. A boarding school education; holidays in hotels, caravans, boats; working in a family business in the same suburban town as his ancestors; an adult lifetime in organisations like Round Table and Rotary – these are markers of a middle-class life of a young adult in the 1940s and 1950s. I have been struck by how much of this experiential landscape has disappeared, and so to record some elements of a life lived through it may have a wider significance.

I have to stress, finally, that I am very sentimental about the man, and continue to mourn his loss, but I am not very sentimental about much of the world that he inhabited.

26 February 2018