Café Crem

Art, Music and Words around The Coffee Table

Dealing with Dad

By Kev Moore

Dad Royal Navy

 

Well, the time for this topic is drawing to a close, so it’s time I grasped the nettle and spoke about the relationship with my Dad.

 

Born in Matlock, Derbyshire in the thirties, he took the name of his father, George, and was christened George Vernon Moore. Almost immediately he became known as Vernon to everybody.

 

He joined the Royal Navy as a boy seaman at the age of 15, and was sent away to Crail in Scotland to begin training that would send a shiver down the spine of most kids today.

 

He rose to the rank of Chief Petty Officer, and left after 9 years service. I am absolutely convinced that this period of his life has shaped everything he is, and everything he has ever done. It has helped him in crises, such as the death of my Mother, when he fell into a regimented routine which he has followed for 22 years. His distress at any deviation from this routine is funny, frustrating, and sad.

He once asked my sister to accompany him Christmas shopping. (they live around the corner and do so much for him) Kaz told him she would make time when she was free, being a busy mother of two and with her own Xmas arrangements to make. He said, he needed to go later that afternoon, because he played snooker at the club between 1 and 3. She went bananas with him, and told him to stop being selfish. But you see, Dad’s routine is everything, and you have to fit around it. It is impossible for me not to draw a sarcastic comment from him if I don’t get up at 8am in his house, it’s almost funny, but becomes depressing.

 

It shapes his view of the world, his intolerance for lawlessness, his lack of liberalism. He would, even now , in his 70’s tackle yobs on the street if they were misbehaving. This, I don’t mind telling you, is a worry. If I was to pinpoint one visible positive from those years, it is his posture. For an old chap, he walks proudly, ramrod straight.

 

He has almost no capacity for change, a situation he encourages by choice, as he was a skilled electrical instrument mechanic. But he takes a perverse pride in ignoring the benefits of computers, email, mobile phones, DVD and video players. When he does get email, he prints them all off as hard copy. He bemoans the demise of the written word, which is laudable, but fails to see the benefits of email. I told him I’d written a short piece on the net about Benazir Bhutto, and he asked “why?” It is precisely this attitude in him that drives me crazy.

 

He is also incapable of showing love to me. He can do it to my sister a little more easily, I suspect, but he would never hug me, and would be decidedly uncomfortable if I moved to hug him.

 

I think he judges me by his own standards, and I am my own man. I hope I don’t judge my children the same way. I still believe that he thinks I failed by not having a “proper job”, despite the fact that I have performed all over the world on stage and television, been received by royalty, met and worked with my heroes and enjoyed such privileges as being given private viewings of Lenin’s tomb.

 

But there is light at the end of the tunnel. Her name is Cynthia. My Father never entertained the idea of another woman after my Mother fell victim to cancer, save one lady , some 10 years ago, who, with cruel irony, went the same way in short order.

 

Cynthia runs the League of Friends Hospital shop where my Dad does voluntary work. She is a sandwich short of a picnic, and hilarious. She takes great delight in puncturing his pomposities, and enjoys putting him on the spot. Example: “What was that film we watched the other night, Vernon? It was almost pornographic, shouldn’t be allowed!” Cue my Dad, spluttering trying to maintain his legendary naval composure.

 

Cynthia came into his life at a fortuitous time. Quite by chance, an aortic aneurism had been discovered in his abdomen, which, without swift surgery, would have resulted in certain death. I glimpsed for the first time in him, a mortality, and worry. I didn’t see fear, but to see him worried this way….

 

Cynthia was incredible. She was there for him every day, she cooked his meals. More importantly, I think she gave him a tangible reason to come out the other side. I think for the first time in 22 years, he saw a future. Indeed , the operation was a success, and his life is so different now. They have dinner parties, go off on weekend breaks, have season tickets for the football. All this has transformed Dad, and slowly, very slowly, his edges are being rubbed away. But every now and then, he still slips back into the old self. He has never, ever, lent me his car, or let me drive it for instance. I have driven more miles, more vehicles and in more countries than most people, but I am still the wayward son.

 

Quite out of the blue, between Christmas and New Year, when I was over doing a show in the UK, he offered to drive me up to Sheffield, so we could meet my son half way from his home on Wakefield for a few hours. I was amazed, and thankful. But it’s a double-edged sword. Of course its wonderful that he agreed to do it, but isn’t it awful that I am so grateful for it, when he should be doing that for his Grandson all the time?

 

And you know what? Despite this generational war we wage, I love him.

Photos: 1)Dad in the Royal Navy, HMS Osprey,Weymouth. 2) Dad and Miki in his garden, Mickleover, Derby. 3) Dad and I, outside his house last summer.

dad-and-miki.jpg

 

Dad and I

 

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January 23, 2008 - Posted by | Art, family, love, men, Parents and Children, personal, photo, writing | , , , , , ,

11 Comments »

  1. Father-son relationships can be fraught with all sorts of emotional and psychological undercurrents of profound complexity. At the same time, I think all these self-help books and inner child stuff demonizes our parents to the extent where part of the process of growing up is “forgiving” them. Parents are mortal, fallible creatures–they can be wise, stupid, cruel…but as a parent of two boys now I can tell you it’s the hardest job I’ve ever had, the responsibilities enormous and sometimes my feet are made of clay too.

    This was a terrific post, personal…and personable. Thanks for this.

    Comment by Cliff Burns | January 23, 2008

  2. Great post and great pictures, Kev! And you know what, my parent garden look exactly the same as your father’s! Amazing!

    Comment by iondanu | January 23, 2008

  3. This is such a wonderful write, Kev. Thank you so much for sharing. It is amazing how much our relationships with loved ones can challenge us.

    Comment by shelleymhouse | January 23, 2008

  4. That was a very heartfelt post, Kev. It came from the depths of your soul and I can see so many similarities to my Dad. It’s almost frightening.
    My Dad was in the army for 26 years. All my life he treated me like a boy in some ways and expected me to always act like a ‘lady’. I learned how to do plumbing and I can wire a house, but there would be He** to pay if ever I showed up in pants to go out in public. To this day, I have never owned a pair of jeans.
    Even now, I find myself thinking sometimes he would have different views on things I do or decide. Parents do have a kind of lasting influence on us, no matter how we strive to be different.
    Thanks for sharing this story with us.

    Comment by Bonny | January 23, 2008

  5. Cliff, many thanks and welcome! It is the hardest job one can have, you’re so right. Because unlike other jobs, there simply are no rules. Just when you think you’ve sussed it; the goalposts move, and off you go again! But a by-product is the understanding of the relationship with one’s own parents. I do agree, it does not help to demonize your parents. They were not only operating in a different generation, but under the influences and guidelines and belief systems laid down by the generation BEFORE them. They, like us, and our children, simply didnt know any better. The reality is, none of us do.

    Comment by kevmoore | January 23, 2008

  6. Danu, there’s something about that generation that seemed to be seriously into gardening. The only green fingers I get are from playing dirty guitar strings!
    Shelley, thanks so much, yep, the old man’s a challenge alright!
    Bonny, that’s exactly where it came from. The situation you describe: talk about being caught on the horns of a dilemma! And you’re right, their influences permeate your life almost subconsciously.

    Comment by kevmoore | January 23, 2008

  7. Kev: I like your perspective and candour and I think there are lots of stories inside you waiting to get out and see the light of day. I’m sure the end result of your labours (music or fiction) will be filled with the grace and humanity displayed in your posts. Good fortune to you…

    Comment by Cliff Burns | January 23, 2008

  8. …and to you Cliff. Many thanks.

    Comment by kevmoore | January 23, 2008

  9. I enjoyed seeing these photos, and enjoyed reading your post. I think many parents hope that their children will be a certain way, and when the child doesn’t fit into that mold, sometimes they just never get over it….it was certainly the case with both of my parents. I’m trying not to be that kind of parent, and be supportive of my daughter’s dreams.

    Madame Monet

    Comment by wpm1955 | January 25, 2008

  10. Wow, what a beautiful Man is your Dad… at least as he was young! What a pity that I was not born before, I could have been your mother! And this way Miki would have been my daughter-in-law… at least if you had decided to marry her one day!
    Anyway, even if I don’t know much about your family, I am sure that the most beautiful victory of your Dad’s life is…. YOU!

    Comment by contessine | January 25, 2008

  11. I have to think ( my father was 81 when he died) that men the age of my father plus or minus 10 years, are equaly dry, thoguh that doe snot mena they don’t love. They have a pride for not being weak, which is what the THINK it is demonstrating love.

    Comment by Yolanda | January 31, 2008


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