I am sure that my siblings and a number of other folks who loved my dad, who died last October, will be remembering that it is his birthday today. He would have been 83.
The small mercy is that we do not have to find presents. Mine would have, as per usual, been a bottle of ouzo, purely for medicinal purposes. Carer E would have ensured that it disappeared not too quickly. My sisters would have given him another book on some obscure aspect of the public school system which he would have loved.
My father claimed to be a bit of a lefty although his views on a number of matters were not exactly mainstream Guardian. But he was someone who had attended a public school (Tonbridge) and briefly taught at one (Eton) and so was a great defender of the abomination that is divisive education and would read the book gripped and hoping that it presented an opportunity for serious name dropping. Sister N is a card-carrying member of the Labour Party as is her husband but they have just pulled a son out of the piss poor state system to send him to a fee-paying establishment. Whatever you say comrades. The People’s Flag is Deepest Pink, it’s not as red as most folks think.
I believe anyone should be allowed to spend their cash as they want so, as a libertarian, I have to support the right of public schools to exist. But the numerous subsidies they get from the State are utterly indefensible and as bastions of Britain’s divisive and appalling class system, I despise the lot of them and would not shed a tear if they were all shut down tomorrow. So the book from N or T would provoke one of the good family debates which we have always had.
This year, no presents, no debates, only memories. Tomorrow I head off to Dad’s house in Shipston to pack up his books and then – with some professional removers – bring cases and cases of those books and a lot of furniture up to Wales. Before the weekend, I was sorting out some family silver I have been sitting on for a while and found a small fork, for a little boy or girl. having cleaned all of it, the initials became clear: TJW. I suspect it was a christening present. It is a bit of a Dad week.