Login Register

BRIAN CARTER: Taking a trip in my dad's fireside Tardis

By Herald Express  |  Posted: November 22, 2012

Comments (0)

MY PAIGNTON born-and-bred dad was a public bar weekend dandy. He wasn't a model father, but he was witty and colourful, with the patter of an Irish horse-dealer.

His ambition was to find unlimited loot and leisure.

This would mean a journey on the Orient Express into the sort of romance reserved for the stars of the Ealing Studio epics.

Believing miracles could happen, he chanted his One Day Canticles as the High Priest of the Hops and Malt, and Grand Master of Working Class Mythology.

"One day us'll win the pools, buyh," he would grin. "One day I'll take 'ee North to the Hebrides. One day us'll have a posh car. One day us'll live in a house bigger than Oldway Mansion, and eat pheasant oggies with our vintage cider."

'One Day' was dad's Shangri-La; Tir Nan Og; Sunset Island — a totally unattainable, but very attractive carrot to dangle before a kid's nose. And I was impressed.

Dad travelled worldwide in his Magic Armchair, which was a badly upholstered fireside Tardis. Without lifting his behind, he wandered through the lanes of English literature in the company of several famous authors and poets.

All he had to do was slip between the pages of a classic yarn and he was there, pushing Heathcliffe to one side and sweeping Cathy off her feet.

On the building site, he flashed quips like Errol Flynn flashing a blade in a Hollywood pirate movie. An unpaid pub cabaret star, he would crack jokes which had Mam closing her eyes and wincing over her port and lemon.

Yet in Dad's company I often strolled into a Dreamland more fantastic than anything Walt Disney could offer. And his anarchic clowning is still recalled by some of the men who tilted their elbows in his company in the 1970s.

But my memories go back to the late 1940s. Those were the days of Chaucerian working class neighbourhoods, with their backyard chicken runs, outside lavs, vegetable patches, back alleys and small corner shops.

It was a tight world of fry-ups, beef dripping, street gas lamps, and work horses pulling carts or wagons. Then there was the ringworm, hard graft, the stink of cats' pee, and terrace house community warmth.

My parents shared a great sense of humour and memories of them both will never die.

Read more from Torquay Herald Express

Do you have something to say? Leave your comment here...

max 4000 characters