Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Internet Man

I wish my dad had lived to be involved in the internet age. He loved gadgets. We had a dishwasher in the early sixties. It used to sit on the draining board and the water would come back into the sink where my mum would dump the pans so that they too were washed.
He bought us a tape recorder, big square grey thing when we were quite young and he just let us play with it. We had one of the first record players where the towers sat apart from the thing itself and he was not mean, it was a Bang and Olfsen set up and must have cost a great deal.
My dad was essentially an engineer which is possibly why I have a weakness for men who build things but he had to be many things because he ran a steel foundry single handed and had sixty men working for him.  He wasn't an easy man. He could go for hours without speaking, he only said something when he really had something to say, my mum was the garrulous one and he let her get on with it.
He was the only boy in his family and went away to a small public school called Scorton Grammar School in Yorkshire as a small boy.  He loved school. I think my daughter takes after him that way, we were all rather horrified that she took to school in such a big way.  We were brought up in a pit village and were quite wild so we didn't like sitting behind desks ( God help me, what am I doing now? ) and being told what to do.
As I grew older I learned to hate the confines of a pit village and to long for other places and other people. We were sent to middle class private schools and my God it was awful. He thought he was doing the right thing, I suppose you would if you had liked school but none of us was academic, we were the kind of children who camped out and played cricket and walked miles to dam streams. Our friends were the village children, we went to school with them for a few years and I am so grateful now that my education was all over the place, because as a writer I feel I can move between the social classes having lived and been schooled among most people.
My mum was the very opposite of my dad and it was just as well. If he had married somebody like himself we would probably have all left home early out of frustration. My mother was a farmer's daughter from Weardale. She was good with children and animals and apart from anything else she was stunningly beautiful. I look like my dad's side of the family. Sad really. Now if I'd had his brains that would have been worthwhile. I think he was so disappointed that his children were no good at school.
I think these things miss a generation and that if my daugher ever has a child that child will dislike school and run off to spend time with unsuitable people and generally let the family down as every good child does.
My father certainly let his family down. Mr grandma was so disappointed when he chose not to be a vicar. He hated the church with a passion. I don't remember ever seeing him there unless it was a wedding or such. And best of all on Sundays we put on our old clothes and got on our ponies ( borrowed from the local travellers ) and spent our days screaming up and own the field behind the house or building bonfires or cooking rhubarb in tiny pans or  throwing turnips at passing trains to try and derail them. We set the garage on fire, we wrecked my father's car by throwing stones at it, we flooded the back kitchen more than once. I remember when we had a glass door at the front and my sister, in a temper, had put her fist through it and when my dad came in from work at dinner time in the middle of the day, he didn't even comment, he just looked at it, had his dinner, smoked his capstan and called in at the glazier's on his way  back to work.

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