It’s hard to focus on me with all the chaos that is going on in London. At the end, people are rebelling because they feel they haven’t been heard and can’t have a voice unless they do stupid things. One person commented that there had been a peaceful protest with 2000 people and no cameras recently, but put 200 people together with bricks and look at the press turn up. Feeling frustrated because you feel you don’t have a future is something I can empathise with although it by no means signifies that I condone the violence.
My father has a very rigid view of life. He was seemingly brought not to put faith in other people and to rely entirely on himself and he would appear to have learned his lesson well.
When my maternal grandmother died it made him realise how little of a story of her life there was to pass on. He’d never had much of a relationship with his father because his mother didn’t let it happen and was aware that his father had died without them getting to know each other. He wanted to leave a legacy to his future descendants and as well as gathering some stories from his mother, wrote his own biography to be preserved for the future generations. He didn’t initially want my sisters and I to read it but my mother and I persuaded him that it was necessary. After all we might have questions.
It’s interesting because of what it leaves out. It omits two important episodes in his life: firstly that 1sis isn’t his and secondly that he had an affair. I wasn’t really surprised about either. What I didn’t realise was the extent to which he planned his initial move abroad when I was a child, creating the idea of the post and selling it to his employers. He didn’t make use of an opportunity but he created the opportunity in the first place. And this wasn’t the first time. He makes detailed reference to his salary and mortgage, to show how each move made him better off financially and was planned and prepared for. He also cites the two or three occasions when my mother put her foot down and said no to decisions he was making. He still speaks of these occasions with awe and talks about my mother being formidable. Maybe she should have done it more often.
What is also clear from this autobiography is that he sees his life as a simple progression from job to better job, with more interesting work, better conditions and pay, with more money coming in from one year to the next, and of course, his favourite mantra, having a little bit more money come in each month that goes out. Wise words for us all. We also moved for a number of these jobs, never staying anywhere longer than five years. He’s just about acknowledged that frequent moves might not have been good for us children.
That’s it. He had one friend from school/university who he fell out with in their 60s because the guy left his wife for another woman after decades of marriage. He found this unacceptable and was unable to understand that there could be reasons. He couldn’t respect his friend’s decision but has not spoken to him since as far as I know. He’s got a couple of friends he keeps in touch with but no-one is close to him.
He might have achieved financial success but he has no friends, no empathy for or understanding of other people. He has limited awareness of music, fiction, art, all the creative media. He doesn’t get people.
I’m not writing this to explain or analyse him, although that’s partly what I’ve ended up doing. But challenging him as I’ve tried to do, at any age, doesn’t work because he only has those conversations by his rules. So my point is really that I reject his rules, I reject his game. I don’t want to play by his rules. I don’t want to play his game.
It’s my life and I decide what I value and what I want. And how can I possibly want to copy someone who says he doesn’t believe in being happy.