This blog is part of a series called a 'Life of Less Liberty.'
I wanted to write something for Easter, and it seemed fair to make this more about memories of dad, as I recently wrote about mum for Mothers Day.
I thought I'd share something topical knowing that on Friday 20th March we got to see a solar eclipse. Thousands of eyes looked up at the sky. We were able to see many stars and even one or two of our planets in the morning sky. Dad would have loved it and as you may remember I mentioned before that we enjoyed stargazing together when I was young.
There were no sat-navs to help pilots navigate their way across the skies when dad was flying Mosquitoes in North Africa. From a very early age dad would explain to me about all the important things we could see in the night sky, for instance all the stars and constellations could assist navigation although not quite accurate enough to get you to B&Q.
Dad and I had a routine in the evenings when I lived on the farm. Before going to bedwe’d let the dogs out for their late night wee. Whilst they were doing that, we’d walk over to the cattle shed to check on our beef herd to see that all was well with the cattle. There was no light pollution in our corner of Essex and if it was a cloudless night, the skies were dripping with a billion twinkly stars. To look at this sight was always quite magical and a shared time together for dad and I, but to me, in the early days nothing more than that. Dad showed me all kinds of structures and pictures of constellations which in the end made the night sky so interesting and captivating. I have to admit I never quite understood how it was possible to navigate from ‘A’ to ‘B’ by looking at the pole star, but it was always fun picking out particular stars.
We often wondered if there was life out there or if UFO’s were real and full of alien life. It was a theme we could go back to time and time again. We’d wonder what aliens would be like – what they’d eat – what they’d say and what we’d say to them. Dad was funny, and we’d laugh as he’d adopt a funny voice and ask nonsense questions. It was just our time each day just to ponder, and ensure all was well with our world.
It was a great way for dad to teach his philosophy to me, and I believe his teachings today the same as I ever did. It’s a cornerstone to who we were as a family, ensuring that we were always well grounded within the ebb and flow of the seasons, and it kept our ideas from getting too big. Dad taught me that we were a tiny, tiny part of something huge, that we had almost no influence upon at all. However, he said what we could do was change and influence some of the smaller things around us, especially so if we, together as a local community all pulled together in the same direction.
It’s partly why dad never really liked or trusted central Government and he didn’t believe that this was real democracy at all. He liked the little local Parish Councils, and the village stuff far more, where acts of kindness and generosity really did make a difference. Dad enjoyed doing good deeds, and performing various acts of kindness. He taught me about the importance of appreciating our good fortune, and why it was a good thing to share that with others. He knew we were lucky and that life was to be appreciated in that moment. That was the farmer in him, because nature could change the weather in a heart- beat and ruin our crops but that was out of our control – just had to make the best of it.
Dad really was a lovely man, and I was so lucky to have him as my father. There is no question in my mind that he taught me the skills necessary for me to have coped with thirty years of imprisonment. I’d like to hope that he’d be proud of how I’ve survived this ordeal.
I’m often asked how I’ve kept so positive, in light of all I’ve been through during my wrongful imprisonment, and for the most part it’s because of all the wisdom and knowledge given to me by my mum and dad. They taught me that our cup is always half full, and that no matter what, things could be much worse. We should make the very best of the moment and don’t waste a second of our lives because you can never get those seconds back. We should be positive, because like attracts like, and that nothing good ever happened to a serial moaner and complainer.
Above all dad taught me that to overcome any trial or tribulation, we should use the strength within each of us to get us through. No man is an island, and dad knew and taught me that there was strength in numbers, but to succeed, that first step had to be from a strong foundation within. Mum and dad took the time to ensure that I was able to cope with whatever life threw at me, and an ability to enjoy the moment no matter what. I’m forever grateful to mum and dad, because they did a really good job in teaching me about how to be in this world, and how to make the best of things.
I’m looking forward to the next chapter now, and I’m sorry I can’t say any more than that, but dad loved that phrase. “Things always come out in the wash”. The wrongfulness of my conviction is currently on that final spin cycle, so we’ll see very soon if that greasy stain of corruption has been removed – and I’ll hear dad’s words on the Appeal Court steps ringing loud in my ears, “I told you so, things always work out for the best in the end.” I’ve always known that to be true, and so no matter what, I’ve always hope, and for that I owe my parents everything.