Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Things I learnt from my father.

I took the time today to stop and take stock of the things my father gave me. It surprised me just how much there was. Taking things in near chronological order we start with comics. I don't really know my dad's history with comics, I know he read the Gem, the Magnet and the Hotspur as a kid in the 30's and the Eagle when I was a kid. I remember searching for his eagle each week in my pre school days and getting comics like Pippin and Tog each week. The love of comics as a form of story telling has stayed with me all my life so far. Sequential story telling is my football or my train spotting. It's stayed with me and, happily, the material available has grown
with me.

Next and closely connected there's reading. My father taught me to read before I started school. By the time I was eight I'd read every set book and when "reading time" came around I was sent off to the school library to work my way through the books there. This meant, for me, Arthur C Clarke, Isaac Asimov, Rosemary Sutcliffe, Roald Dahl and Joan Aiken among others. A couple of years after that I was reading my grandparent's western novels, classic pulp novels and then a world's worth of mythology. These days I've rarely got less than two books on the go at once and I'm busy handing that appreciation of books and reading on to Molly, my daughter.

Then there's drawing. Up to the age of seven my drawing consisted of stick men with stick guns shooting each other all over every sheet of paper. My dad could draw, he was never going to achieve greatness but he was competent and to me, at the time, he was Michelangelo and De Vinci rolled into one. I would get him to draw me pictures of soldiers, not realising he was probably drawing from memory, until one day he was to busy and told me to do something myself. I still remember sitting down with a Marvel comic and drawing a cowboy from an advert for Lone Ranger toys on the back cover. I was so impressed with my work I've been drawing ever since.

Then there was the love of the countryside and old places. My dad instilled a powerful love of all things uniquely British. There's something about British architecture and British countryside that is unique to this country, a 17th century English Farmhouse, bares little resemblance to a French or German or Italian one, despite often using the same materials, and so it goes with churches and townhouses and castles and on and on.

So I guess what I'm saying is "Thanks Dad".

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