Since my route took me close to my Dad’s old stomping grounds in Paisley (not the swirly pattern, the town near Glasgow – there again, the thought of dad being a dandy gadabout in a paisley smoking jacket does have some appeal) I felt it would be rude not to call in on my uncle Robert and my auntie May.
I’d met them recently at a funeral, the only time in my adult life – so any, “My, how you’ve grown,” conversations would be unnecessary.
In no time at all I filled their spare room with all my flotsam and jetsam and was tucking into a bowl of home made soup…
I was transported – it tasted remarkably like the soup my dad made in our youth…obviously a family recipe handed on down…
It was kind of weird. I felt so at home very quickly – sitting with my cousin Tracy, hoping against hope that the poor unfortunate on Deal or No Deal would go home with 5 pence.
I had so many questions about my dad in his youth – failing to fully realise that dad had been the oldest of 9 – and he was 18 years older than Robert.
What Robert lacked in knowledge though, he more than made up for with his enthusiastic guided tout of the area.
He took me to the small holding where they’d all grown up. He described dad as a ‘Gentleman farmer’ given the fact that most of the chores – looking after the cows, the pigs and the goat – were delegated amongst the younger members of the family.
I like that image.
“That’s where the pressed steel factory was where your dad worked..”
My mind raced – if that factory hadn’t closed, I wouldn’t have been born in Corby…and then, and then…it’s easy to get to a point where one thinks it’s just down to the roll of a dice.
I got to see my auntie Mary, who contrary to popular belief, didn’t have a canary up the leg of her drawers. She was able to fill in some other bits – but she blew me away when she told me she had dad’s badge from his time in the army.
I’ve never seen myself as a materialistic kind of a guy – but the idea of holding this thing – whatever it looked like – turning it over in my hand – I imagined a connection with dad would exude from this…what?
She wasn’t able to dig it out there and then – but promised that she’d get it to me….
We enjoyed more than a little banter and I found myself standing in the naughty corner as part of the all round japery.
Why had I lost touch with these fine people ? These were folk with a direct route to my past – the stories, the images, the smells, the sights and the beauty of it all.
I know I’m not the only one who’s lost touch with his family and his past, but it is worth a pause for thought to get to the root of how and why this happens.
A break down of community? Of family? Of family values – whatever they are…
It was chance/ it was out of my control what happened in industry, where dad chose to work, where he and mum chose to live…
But I can choose to re-establish contacts and links to my history.
It might be my age – who knows? – but that connection has become very important to me.
Must try harder.
Walk a mile