The Voice in My Head

Pop! Age 91, he died on the 16th October, 2018 but he remains The Voice in My Head … a bond unbroken.

We shared DNA and so much more but perhaps the glue was our humour. Glasgow, born and bred, sarcasm came naturally and he teased me from the minute I was born!  For that I am eternally grateful, learning from a master the genius of making light of situations requiring of calm and perspective. He gave me my strength.

He drove us to school, helped me with my homework, bought my precious records, walked the dogs with me, made me laugh and reassured me that everything was going to be alright, regardless … He collected me from university, bemoaning some of my failures but always there to pick me up – or give me away as he did on my wedding day with the words, ‘It’s not too late to back out, Trish!’. We shared my first glimpse of Africa together and so much more. The past was important to him, as it is to me, and I smile as I remember the many mixed tapes I made him for his car so that he could enjoy the songs we both loved. Those of The Seekers held a special place and the memory of going to see Judith Durham together is particularly poignant – tears tripping us as she sang The Carnival is Over

The carnival is well and truly over but I carry him with me in my heart and his voice is ever present in my head; his humour and his little sayings forever a source of comfort and strength …

This page is everything Pop!

‘It’ll all fall into place.’

My favourite. Who doesn’t want to hear that?!

‘There’s a plan for every man.’

Yes, but what did I do to deserve this one?!

‘We fight on!’

We sure do but sometime it’s harder than it seems …

‘Just write your name!’

Comforting advice when faced with an exam. Note the confidence in his child’s ability! Similarly …

‘Just count the pillars … ‘

‘Thank God her favourite film wasn’t ‘Scott of the Antartic’!’

He dined out on that one.

‘The highlight of my day is phoning you – that’s how bad it is!’

None taken.

Sometimes the simplest things turn out to be the most precious … Packing up my life a few months ago, I came across my old wedding file – sound like Miss Havisham – and a discoloured piece of paper fell from it. Torn on the bottom corner, the size may denote its age but the old typeface looks positively archaic! It was 1984, many long years ago, when Pop took responsibility for getting everybody to the church on time courtesy of his unique directions. Tucked into each invitation, I had forgotten this insert even existed – not one remaining. Like a white feather, however, this lone piece of paper materialised without warning, Pop written all over it!

I never fail to smile when I look at his heading: MASSON v SHERRET. Sadly prophetic, in hindsight, the battle lines were to be truly drawn twenty-eight years later. I laugh, too, as I hear his voice in my head suggesting we should have Fight The Good Fight as one of our hymns … That was him; that was his humour and I miss it. His characteristic sarcasm leaps from the yellowed page and I can almost see him sitting there, in the dining room (don’t ask), struggling to type his introduction, laughing out loud at every word. I intend to upload a photo of the original but, in the absence of a magnifying glass or x-ray vision, perhaps easier to read the following:

‘Kemback Church is situated in a picturesque but rather remote village. As it is close to St. Andrews, bring your golf clubs. Should you miss Kemback, you will probably have a better day at St. Andrews if you have a good round. (Even with a bad round, you will probably have a better day.)’

Just a snippet of the father of the bride’s directions to his daughter’s wedding. You can imagine the speech! Wish I had a video or even his notes. Suffice to say, it was absolutely perfect. He teased me from birth until the day he died and, for that, I shall be eternally grateful. His words, now, on that torn, discoloured piece of paper could not be more precious …

More Pop!

Pop was synonymous with sarcasm and laughter.  He loved nothing more than to recount his favourite anecdotes or jokes.  It mattered little whether or not they were funny because his own laughter was infectious.  An audience was almost inconsequential!  How I miss that; him.

Latterly, stuck in that horrendous home, he reminisced a lot and pulled little gems from his memory.  I had no idea that the following was his favourite joke – never heard it in all my years – but here it is …

Builders are renovating this old house in Dublin – obviously, uninhabited for some time – when they come across a hidden cupboard.  On opening the door, they are met with a skeleton!  Round his neck, on a ribbon, is a medal which reads: Irish Hide & Seek Champion 1958!

So simple.  So clever.  So Pop!

Pop died on the 16th October, 2018 and my post of 20th October is dedicated to him.  I wrote:

‘A legacy secure, he lives on in those he loved and who loved him back.  Perhaps fitting that I end with one of the last jokes he told me – you had to hear him tell it!

Picasso’s house is broken into and the police are called.  Enquiring as to whether Picasso saw the burglar, they suggest he produce a drawing of the suspect. 

The following day, the police arrest a horse with a can of sardines!

I, actually, didn’t get it immediately but he laughed and laughed.  God speed, Pop …’

Beneath, I wrote the title of one of my friend, Tom’s (Odell, that is), beautiful songs, Half As Good As You – my favourite.  We went to see Tom, in concert, two days later, tears tripping me as he sang the lyric, ‘If I ever find anyone half as good as you, think maybe that will do …’.

As I write, the mother of one of my dearest childhood friends passed away, peacefully, last night.  A poignant time and one of reflection.  Brings it all back.  The loss of the second parent pulls one up fast; a stark reminder of one’s own mortality – and the ties that bind.  Strangely, too, I am reading a book, at the moment, by my favourite author, Alexandra Fuller.  Called Travel Light, Move Fast, it is about the death of her beloved father and, as with so much of her writing, touches my soul.  I have just copied some of her words into my book of quotes of which the following probably resonates the most …

He was gone, and a time had gone with him, and my way of knowing how to be in all time; that too had vanished. 

So this is grief, I’d thought.

It’s the theft of time, all time for all of time.’

See what I mean!