My father was born one hundred years ago today. A Glasgow man, an academic, a communicator, fiercely principled, intelligent and wise. He had a history degree from Glasgow University, and a first in PPE from Balliol College, Oxford. He was at Oxford with the politicians of the 1950's, 60's and 70's. Prime Ministers Harold Wilson, Edward Heath, and other Parliamentarians such as Roy Jenkins, and Jo Grimond, leader of the Liberal Party during the early 1960s. This was the party my father supported, wrote parliamentary speeches for, and lamented when it began to dwindle and fade during his later years.
Dad fought in Burma during the Second World War, and apart from one or two comments, he never mentioned that period of his life. There was just one leftover from the whole ghastly experience which he passed on to us, as children, and which I continue to pass on to my children and grandchildren, and that is always to lie with the sheet across your lower back, covering the kidneys, when trying to sleep in very hot weather. This helps to avoid catching a chill in the cooler hours of the night!
My father was a journalist. He worked in Fleet Street in the days when newspapers had some integrity. He was Deputy Editor of the long-departed News Chronicle, and then, later, leader writer on The Daily Telegraph. But those were not his politics so he wasn't there for long. He ended his working life as a Director and Trustee of the John Lewis Partnership, a business model he respected enormously.
Every Saturday morning he would go to the library and come home with an armful of books. He worked his way through them in no time at all! He loved to read, a pleasure he has passed on to his children. His favourite author was Henry Williamson, whose books about the life of a Devon boy compiled in The Flax of Dream (my favourite books of all time), and Chronicles of Ancient Sunlight are probably not so well known these days, but the animal stories, Tarka the Otter and Salar the Salmon, may be familiar titles to you. Dad had them all on his bookshelves. When the time came to sort through all his books, we counted over 2,000.
There was much, much more to the man. But this is not an obituary, it's just a few words, written in loving memory of my father, an extraordinary individual, born a century ago today. He gave so much to me, which I continue to appreciate, develop and give thanks for.