Reflections on what makes us who we are.
(This is a two-part post, with the concluding part tomorrow.)
My father was born on June 15th, 1901.
Here is a photograph taken of him on his twenty-first birthday.
He was an architect for Barclay Perkins & Co., a London firm of brewers. Here are the opening words of the Wikipedia entry.
The Anchor Brewery was an English brewery located in Southwark, London. Established in 1616, by the early nineteenth century it was the largest brewery in the world. From 1781 it was operated by Barclay Perkins & Co, who merged with Courage in 1955. The brewery was demolished in 1981.
I was born in November, 1944 and at the start of the school year in September 1956, me aged eleven, I started in the first term of Preston Manor County Grammar School near Preston Road, Wembley, just a few miles from where we all lived. (Mother, father, me and Elizabeth, my younger sister by four years.) Frankly, I had been regarded as a bit of a dreamer at my primary school and more than a few were surprised that I passed the ’11+’ exams, a prerequisite for attending a grammar school in those days.
I became twelve-years-old in November, 1956. Just six weeks after my twelfth birthday, on the evening of December 19th, 1956, my mother, as normal, came into my bedroom to kiss me goodnight. However, what transpired was very far from normal.
For she sat down on the edge of the bed and told me that my father was not well and may not live for much longer. To this day, I can still see her sitting on the edge of the bed, adjacent to my knees covered by the sheet and bedcover, a very drawn look on her face.
I had been aware of my father being at home in bed for a while but had no notion whatsoever, prior to this moment, that he was seriously unwell. In hindsight, it was more than I could emotionally embrace for not only did I not go back into my parent’s bedroom and again say goodnight to my father, I went off to sleep without any problem.
During that night, in the early hours of December 20th, my father died, the family doctor attended and my father’s body was removed; I slept through it all and awoke in the morning to find my father gone.
Now fast forward just a few years.
It’s too long ago now for me to recall who it was who gave me my father’s fountain pen that he used on a daily basis when he was alive. It is a Sheaffer Crest Snorkel with a 14K gold Triumph nib with a platinum plated tip.
I have had the pen for nearly sixty years and treasure it, as you can imagine. But in recent times it was not functioning properly and I put it down to old age, and transferred to a modern pen.
By a wonderful stroke of luck I recently came across an American company, Pendemonium, who restore and service a wide range of pens, including Sheaffer pens of the age of my father’s pen; that particular model first was produced in 1952.
On Saturday, the restored Sheaffer pen was sent back to me. It is a real joy to find that it writes so well and remains a living memory of my father from so long ago.
Now all you dear readers must be wondering just what on earth I’m rambling on about!
My answer will be offered in Part Two that will be posted tomorrow.
But I will give you a clue.
See you tomorrow.