Sunday, March 25, 2012

Sunday? Skullz

My father was Captain of Boats at Oriel sixty or so years ago. As it turned out, it wasn't a great year for them. But he did skull down from Oxford to London.

Other than mentioning that he did it, I never heard him talk about his "One Man in a Boat" adventure. I am pretty sure, incidentally, that there was no dog, for two excellent reasons: 1. no room in a racing skull 2. he had many virtues, but love of animals was not among them. He just about tolerated the family cat. But I digress.

His ceremonial oar hung in our garage for as long as I can remember. Even now, when I see a racing shell gliding over the water, there's a little tug somewhere deep down in my subconscious.

It was the toffees that got him in the end, I suspect. This was one of the few things we did share. He used to force the family out on long, refreshing walks on Sunday afternoons. I hated him for this for many years. I only found out much later that he didn't like them any more than I did: it was my mother who made him do it. Anyway, he always had a crumpled paper bag of toffees in his raincoat pocket. The trivial currency of bonding.

And a sweet tooth which may have had something to do with the heart attack which carried him off at 63, before I got to know him.

But a part of him is still lurking there, deep down. Every so often, something trips a random memory and, just for a moment, he's beside me, looking over my shoulder.