What Time Is It ?
What can I say about Dad
? I’ve known him all my life,
as have many of us here. :-)
My earliest memories are of him being away a lot,
but when he came home, it was always for months, and he always brought home a present.
Dad was born in Stockton in 1919, the second of three
brothers, and went to school at Kirkleatham. He left school early to go to sea,
which was his life, just like his elder brother Teddy. They were dangerous
times to be in the merchant navy, thanks to the war, but he made it
through, despite his loss of hearing, which he blamed on a particularly heavy
bombing raid when he was in a harbour in the Mediterranean.
He didn’t talk about it much, but he was on one convoy across the
Atlantic which had to turn back because of engine
trouble, a very dangerous thing to do. He returned safely to port for repairs,
but the rest of the convoy was attacked and sunk a few days later.
He progressed through the ranks, making
Captain in the early 60’s. He married Yvonne in 1948, and they moved to
Englefield Green in the late 50’s, where he has lived ever since. I was born in
61. Due to Mum’s poor health, she couldn’t have children so I was adopted, and
Dad always took great amusement in reminding me that I cost 12/6-, the court
fees in those days.
Dad was a stickler for timekeeping, everything had to happen when it was supposed to.
There are stories of him leaving port without the pilot if the pilot was late.
There was one occasion when a tankard had been ordered secretly for his birthday,
and it hadn’t arrived. He was insisting on departing anyway as the package was
being driven at high speed down the dock, so it was thrown across the water
into the ship just as they were leaving - after all, the ship had to leave on time.
When Matthew was born, and was
10 days late, Dad was most perplexed because the baby didn’t arrive on the due
date. Even for a simple pub lunch, he would be waiting on the step at exactly the
allotted time and I would be in all sorts of trouble if we were late picking
Dad loved his parties and social events,
and the summer bar-b-ques he started after Mum died became a regular feature in
his garden for many years. Some of these event were used to raise money for Mission to Seafarers, and
I remember the celebration when we tooped the £1000 for a
bring and buy sale. He also loved his garden, and was a keen member and
treasurer of the local gardening association. He loved the events on the Wellington, with the
Master Mariners and also the Trinity house lunches and dinners. He used to go
up by train, so he could have “a beer or two”, then on hias return would drive
back from Egham station – “It’s all right” he would say
I’m going by train” ! – I never could explain
that one to him…When I could, I would pick him and his friends up myself – that was always an amusing drive home….
When he retired, he worked at Thorpe Park
looking after the water side of things. There he met Ron and Marian, who have
been close friends ever since. They have looked after him when he has been
unwell, and I would like to say a special thank you to them for all they have
done, especially in the last few years.
Dad had many many wonderful friends from
all over the world, and many of you are here today. Thank you all for coming,
and Ken, Nikki and I sincerely hope, no INSIST that you all join us for
a drink and a bite to eat afterwards. We look forward to hearing more stories
and tails about the old sea dog.
We were with Dad when he passed away, and
it was quite peaceful. You’ll be amused
to know that his last words to me were “What time is it?” – so
we had all better not be late…….