Why I am what I am (1)

One day I started thinking about all the little facets of myself as a person and where they all came from. I didn’t take me long to work out that the vast majority came from my Dad. I suppose that was because when I was a little boy I spent a lot of time with him. I was nevertheless really quite surprised how many apparently insignificant activities took on a major importance in my later life.

My Dad, Fred, made it quite obvious to me that he liked football/soccer. He took me to games with Derby County although it was their sixth game before they won. Norwich City (1-4), Newcastle United (1-2), Stoke City (1-1), Grimsby Town (2-4), Blackburn Rovers (1-1) and , finally, in a friendly, Spartak Prague (7-1). Here’s the programme to the first match I ever watched. I was seven years old.

I have always read avidly, and, every Saturday morning, Fred used to take me to the old library in Alexandra Road  in Swadlincote, a small town in South Derbyshire. It was on the right hand side as you went down a very steep hill, just before the local cinema.

I have read books avidly ever since, and often wish I could see again the big green book of Norse Myths and Legends that was in that Old Library all those years ago. The library itself was plagued by subsidence caused by coal mining and it was demolished in 1960.Here are some houses in the same street. Just look at the cracks in those bay windows…..

And here’s a short video of the problem. I included this clip in a previous blog post…..

As a boy, I collected stamps because Fred had collected stamps as a boy and he gave me his stamp collection. I always remember that it was in a “Commando” stamp album, resplendent with a commando firing a sten gun from the hip on the front cover. As an adult, I do wonder what connection, if any, that had to do with stamp collecting but in 1961 nobody seemed to notice….

I like birdwatching because Fred talked about eagles in Scotland when he was in the RAF. On one occasion, as he travelled by train across the Highlands south towards Edinburgh, he was in a compartment alone with an old Scotsman. It was a fine, bright sunny day, when suddenly the Highlander tapped him on the knee, and pointed out of the window towards the distant mountain tops. There, high in the clear blue sky, was the unmistakeable shape of a soaring Golden Eagle….

I can actually remember going on a walk with Fred one morning when I was seven or eight. and at one point I was a little tired, so I went to sit on a clump of grass with my back against an old fence post. As I sat there, Fred caught my attention, and he pointed up to a bird that was singing its heart out as it hovered high in the sky. I asked him what it was, and he replied “a skylark”. In the sixty or more years since then, I have never lost that desire to identify birds:

One day when I was in my Dad’s class at Woodville Junior School he gave us all a printed sheet with his own hand drawn pictures of four common birds. We all coloured them in so that one day we would recognise them when we saw them. The birds were blackbird, thrush, starling and robin (the European version, Erithacus rubecula)  Here they are……

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And here they are in a modern version of what we received in class, almost a whole lifetime ago. There were no multicoloured worksheets on computer screens in 1961…..

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Filed under Aviation, Bomber Command, History, my Dad, Personal, Wildlife and Nature, Writing

15 responses to “Why I am what I am (1)

  1. Why I am what I am is always an interesting speculation. In my life, it leads to a variety of people with whom I lived as a child.

  2. You must’ve had a deep admiration for your Dad ❤

    • That is a very difficult question to answer. He was certainly a very brave and very dedicated man, but, like all of us, he had his weaknesses and he made his mistakes.
      One thing I could say for definite, though, is that he always faced up to the problems Life sends everybody’s way. and he always, always, provided for his family.

  3. Yes, I know what you mean. There are a lot of things about me that I clearly trace back to my father.

  4. H.J. for avian101

    Happy New Year!, John. 🙂

  5. Chris Waller

    From my father I inherited punctuality and – I like to think – reliability. I also inherited, quite unconsciously, an inclination to grow vegetables. Looking back, the garden seemed to be my dad’s refuge, as it was also for his father.

    • Hope you had a nice Christmas, Chris.
      You’ve certainly always been punctul and reliable in my experience. I can’t speak about your love of vegetables, but growing them was a very common pursuit in the 1950s, possibly inherited from the population’s desire to supplement rationing. My Dad always went for brussel sprouts, cabbages, peas, potatoes and runner beans, and he usually had a corner of the garden for some rhubarb.
      Happy New Year, by the way, and let’s hope peace breaks out in the Ukraine.

  6. Thank you for sharing!!.. while your Father, and others, no doubt had and influence, the origin of you being who your are lies within you heart… “It is not easy to find happiness within ourselves, and it is not possible to find it elsewhere.” (Agnes Repplier).. 🙂

    Hope you and your family have a wonderful New Year filled with peace, love, happiness and life is all that you wish for it to be and until we meet again… 🙂

    May love and laughter light your days,
    and warm your heart and home.
    May good and faithful friends be yours,
    wherever you may roam.
    May peace and plenty bless your world
    with joy that long endures.
    May all life’s passing seasons
    bring the best to you and yours!
    (Irish Saying)

  7. What lovely memories you have of your father John. With so many of your interests stemming from his own interests, it’s nice to have that link and I can quite easily believe he shaped you into the person you are today.

    • And I haven’t finished the list of interests in common yet!!
      It certainly has struck me over the years just how many things we had in common. I have always wondered if everybody else’s father-son interests and hobbies were equally similar.
      And what about mother-daughter? I had no sisters so I can’t really answer that one, but again, would their interests coincide?
      And finally, a Happy New Year to you and yours, and thanks a lot for your continuing support!

      • Thank you John and a happy new year to you and yours too! It’s an interesting one and one that will certainly change as finally dynamics change. I took on more of my fathers interests than I’d say my sister did of our mother or indeed my brother did of my father. The reason for that I can’t really say, but I’d guess a girl is more influenced by her mum and a boy his father. A gender thing no doubt.

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