Last month, on the 1st of May, my Father would have been 100 years old.
Yes, 100. Yes, Father not Grandfather.
Yes, he nearly made it.
Here’s something from the archives I wrote when he was 96:
My Dad is 96 years old. Most people – after squinting and counting on their fingers, working out how old he was when I was conceived (he was 70 when I was born, FYI) – react by timidly asking how he’s doing. “And is he… you know.”
Short of a few marbles? Bedridden?
I like to answer with stories, so they can decide for themselves. For example, a few months ago he had a little camera pushed through a hole in his abdomen with local anaesthetic . The next day, because my Mum wouldn’t let him go shopping, he did pull ups on the kitchen door frame to annoy her.
Years ago, in his 80s, he had one of his hips replaced as it couldn’t keep up with him. He was told to rest for at least six weeks. Only one went by and he was off up the road on his crutches to do the weekly shop.
A couple of hours passed and we started to worry. Then, a phone call:
“I’ve had a bit of a fall in Sainsbury’s and they’re all panicking because I’m an old man so they’ve called an ambulance.”
“Oh god!” Mum cried. “We’ll come and get you.”
“No, no I’ll get a cab back – I’m fine.”
“No I think we’d better come and get you.” So off we went to the hospital, and they pulled back the curtain around his bed, and there he was: trousers torn, glasses broken, hair all in disarray.
Turns out he’d been hit by a car outside of the supermarket and broken his other leg.
In answer to the aforementioned questions, yes to one and no to the other.
Anyway, as well as clearly being a lunatic, he’s quite wonderful. He was hauled in and out of school from the age of 11 to travel the world and sing on stage with his father. He played the drums and piano and sang in bands. He has brilliant stories to tell. He has a fantastic moustache.
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.