To Dad with Love
There are so many wonderful things I’ve learnt from you.
I want to remind you of a few.
You taught me that reading didn’t end with Jack and Jill
And that books would open a world of wonder for me.
I got the message….and you made me a bookworm costume
For the carnival.
You traced my ancestry back to
With a bit of a detour in
You taught me to be kind to tramps
And to give a penny to the RNLI.
I went door to door with you
Raising money for Hungarian émigrés
(One of whom later became my surgery boss.)
You taught me to let dogs smell my hand before I patted them
And that circuses were cruel to animals.
You gave me ‘thinkabouts’ before bedtime
To keep the nightmares away
And that’s the first time I heard of Fleming
And the discovery of penicillin.
You made swords of rolled up newspaper
For back garden jousting events
And a local post office from a cardboard box.
You saw the scientist underneath the Romantic
And together we looked for badgers at night
Gazed at stars
Watched a total eclipse through photographic film
Made copper sulphate crystals in the cellar.
I helped you construct a nine foot pram dinghy
To ferry a family of six—
Developing a permanent aversion to linseed oil.
You made me a long jump and a high jump
Built an igloo and brought cocoa to sip
In my warm snow cave.
You taught me to aspire
Like the fairy atop the Christmas tree
To have an enquiring mind
And be an independent thinker.
You taught me to live life as an adventure
Borrowing courage and faith from Colum Kiel.
You taught me that the love of the Lord
Is a lamp for my steps
A light for my path.
You taught me to brave the elements
To add a stone to the cairn
And never to set off down an untracked hillside
In the late afternoon.
You taught me to belay and to cast off
To read the winds and the tides
To pitch a tent
And not to forget my anorak.
(I still don’t forget my anorak).
You instructed me in the political philosophy
Of Marx, Lenin and Trotsky,
Gave me a banned book by Prince Kropotkin
Imparted to me a thirst for justice
Nurtured my prophetic spirit.
You taught me not to lie
To stay out of debt
And that swearing is more effective
If you hardly ever swear.
You said that the true meaning of “God provides”
Is that everything you need is right at hand
If you just know how to look:
And that it doesn’t matter if there aren’t many
Of whatever it is you’re looking for
Because you only need one—
And you will find it.
You showed me that privilege and responsibility
Are two sides of same coin
And that I, like little Hans
Can make a big difference.
Most of all, as good Dads do
You believed in me
And taught me to believe in myself.
That lesson, like the anorak, has stuck.