The day was ordinarily dull and grey, but into the grim world there came a new shining light…
Yes it was my bald head. I was born at 2.36 in the morning on Tuesday the 11th of December 1962. When, kicking and screaming, I first appeared onto the world’s stage. Almost blinding the midwife with the gleam from my shiny hairless bonce in the process.
The doctor was heard mumbling… “This is a tricky one. It’s coming out sideways”.
And from that somewhat unconventional start I was delivered. Born to continue in a seemingly similar fashion throughout my whole life. Ploughing my own furrow. Walking my own plank. And beavering along as best I could, just by plodding on regardless.
When I finally arrived into the world…
it was already plunged into the depths of darkness. Sitting on the brink of nuclear war. America and Russia through China were all having a profound effect on all our lives. It was all about them and Fidel Castro amid what was known as ‘The Cuban Missile Crisis’.
At the same time, little did the Cuban hordes know, that another little dictator was being born in what was then, Lancashire. 26 William Street, Harpurhey, Manchester, United Kingdom to be exact.
That hairless bonce, the little round belly, that just over half a century later, were set to make their own impact. Particularly on the Australian nation. In the shape of Local Lad Andy Robinson, the formidable, frightening and foolhardy beast of Pad-Pimpers Home Improvements in the UK. And now Localad Services Handyman Assist in Oz.
So, when I was born…
On the same day I was officially launched, one of Britain’s great actors, Peter O’Toole was taking the lead in the movie; Lawrence of Arabia. “Coming soon to cinemas all around the globe”. And those pesky Cubans were finally on the run (coincidence? I think not).
I lay in my bed; the third drawer down in a five drawer chest with the runs of my own. And in those days, lest we forget, there were no disposable nappies (such luxury). My rear was wrapped in terry toweling and all the washing was to be done by hand.
Obviously I was a beautiful baby.
Born the second son in a family of four, two boys, two girls, the offspring of proud Geoffrey and his darling bride Irene. Mum and Dad, as they later became affectionately known to me. But back then it wasn’t just me who was short. My father was short, food was short and even my mother was going short.
Now November 28th is my father’s birthday and I won’t say how old he is since we have been parted in excess of over ten years now. And I suppose on reflection, that my father’s birthday is really nothing more than a tiny point in the vast continuum of time-space. As is mine. Hardly any different from a myriad of other tiny points. But, however insignificant, it has started me thinking.
Although I am born to be a Local Lad during the day, in its spare time my soul becomes that of a writer (of sorts) and artist (usually of piss). And so, in this very special essay, and in deep reverie, my thoughts turn to my father once again. And to the external thoughts that his existence has raised for me:
The gift of life; Nature and nurture; The eternal cycle; The immortality of our reproductive cells; The mysteries of futurity; Other authors writing about their fathers; Thousands of books and plays written by blokes exploiting the memories of their old men.
Damn it, everyone’s had a go except me. There was John Mortimer (with his ‘A voyage around my father’). Turgenev, Arnold Wesker, Philip Roth, Mordecai Richler, Mozart, even Jesus. Most of them seem to make it look so easy. They just take a quick look at their daddies, have a brief ponder and then dash off down to the printers. Usually with a few thousand words, an opera or a play and the like in tow.
So why shouldn’t I do the same? After all, my dad was born much nicer than Mr Mortimer Senior was. He spoke better English than Turgenev’s pop. And was far funnier than Wesker’s. Although I must admit, he was never quite as omnipresent as Jesus’ old man.
So – speak to me my memory… Bring me back my father.
This next bit is not simply a piece about my dad; it is LITERATURE. You may notice the difference. On the other hand, you may not. It’s really up to you, but I did want to warn you.
So, what is the first remembrance culled from those golden days of my childhood? As a boy I recall seeing my father as predominantly a man of many contrasts and curious contradictions. (See? Literature).
He was a strong man, obstinate on occasions, firm and unyielding over what he regarded as fundamental issues. And yet, for all his apparent rigidity and unvarying consistency, a man bespeckled with the sharpest of humour. Along with inconsistency and a baffling array of other idiosyncrasies. Most of them physical.
I think what made the deepest first impression was the way my dad looked after his body. I often looked on as he indulged in an enthusiastic form of healthy cleanliness that grown men usually only reserve for their cars and Sunday mornings.
If he could have had his body mechanically washed, waxed and under-sealed, I’m sure he would have done it. All in effort to streamline his time in the bathroom.
Without constant preening or being narcissistic in any manner at all, he just managed to keep himself well groomed, polished and presentable. This meant that he was under a constant threat from a grimy and hostile environment.
And the greatest threat of all to his shining-mind-in-a-shining-body came from his other baby – the Chorlton Snooker Centre. His own successful foray into self-employment.
And now for one of those wavy slide back in time moments…
Almost fully trained in accountancy, my father took a career at Butlins Holiday Camps in Filey, West Yorkshire. It was his job to collect the various departmental takings midst hundreds of Redcoats and reconcile any discrepancies. This invariably drew him to my somewhat seemingly innumerate mother. She was a hairdresser for the camp’s hairdressing franchise, Molly Rowntree.
Somehow, Geoffrey quickly turned this sticky situation fully round to his own advantage. And in no time at all he was wooing Irene for all he was worth. Which wasn’t a lot in those days. It had to be his quick wit and ruggedly handsome features (which remain a family trait) that, quickly had her hooked.
The courtship was going strong for a good twelve months.
Geoffrey finally took the plunge and asked Irene out for a ‘special dinner’. He sat her down and explained to her that he had met someone. Someone who was really something quite special. So special that he wanted to ask to marry her. But didn’t know how.
Never being one for mathematics, and now thinking he was two timing her, all my mother could think was, ‘What a twat!’
And it was another half hour of stony silence before the penny finally dropped and she happily accepted Geoffrey’s proposal.
Taking the bull firmly by the horns now, Geoffrey next asked Irene’s father for his daughter’s hand in marriage. He was hoping at least for, “No please, take all of her”.
At the time it all probably seemed like a mistake. He was told in no uncertain terms, that the twenty year old Irene was far too young to wed. And besides, she was perfectly happy to be at home with her parents thank you very much! But Irene quickly persuaded her father Albert otherwise.
After much further ado, the happy couple finally got hitched.
With my grandfather’s threat that he’d swing for Geoffrey if he ever upset Irene still ringing in their ears. Their big day was the 31st of March 1959. That was also a Tuesday. Apparently, there used to be big tax incentives for doing it at the end of accounting periods back then. A reason my father often used to justify the whole affair.
Two years and five months of squeaky bed-springs later, I happened along and joined the family. I was born a meagre eighteen months after my older brother David.
It was eleven o’clock at night when the labour pains started for Mother. She was uncomfortably housed in the master bedroom of a two up, two down terrace house in Central Manchester.
Fortunately for her, Geoffrey knew just what to do…
He legged it straight out the front door of the house.
Mother obviously hadn’t heard him say anything about going for the doctor. She must have thought the daft sod had finally done one. But true to form, he returned shortly after with the family doctor and midwife in tow.
I was oblivious to any of the pain but by now, my Mother was in extreme agony.
Cocooned safely in the watery womb that had been my home for a full nine months, I must have decided I was better off in than out. And I decided I was staying put.
Eventually, after a great struggle, or what looked like ten rounds of no holds barred, all in wrestling. And my mother shouting for the midwife to go away (maybe a lot less politely than I have written). I made my very first bow into the universe. Born pretty much as earlier described.
Despite all the early drama, I weighed in at a respectable 7lbs 6oz.
At the time I was quite a bonny new born.
And mother later told me that even then, I was sporting a handsome pot belly. Unfortunately I’ve kept getting heavier and heavier. And truth be known, my present day weight is now one of the most closely guarded secrets on facebook.
When my hair finally arrived the strands were “as fair as fair could be”, mother would say. But they too have soon darkened to a naturally boring mousey dark-brown colour. And needless to say, even that colour is fast forwarding to a grey if not white.
But as the saying goes, “there are no fat dead folk – you’re just dead!” C’est la vie.
But back to the birth.
Apparently I was classed ‘normal’ (my mother had me tested ~ Sheldon Cooper). Mother looked down at me with nothing but love and admiration for her new born son (and who can blame her?).
However, my proud Father, with his droll Yorkshire wit, was a little less star struck. He was rumoured to have just said: “Put it on top of the wardrobe, love – it’ll come down when it’s ready.”
And that’s where I probably stayed while my two younger sisters Dawn and Caroline were later born.
In those days you didn’t have so called ‘new men’, mother’s brought up the children and the blokes went to work to bring home the bacon. (mmmmm bacon).
In fairness to the old man, he did nothing but his best for us all. We had a comfortable childhood, there wasn’t much that we wanted for. And he, along with my mother, are both still very much loved and yet sorely missed to this day.
And that my friends, brings us back to the present..
So here I am, Andy Robinson of Localad Services Handyman Assist.
Welcome to my latest, all new, all singing, all dancing, totally redrafted (born) Localad Services Handyman Assist website/blog whatsamajig. Where you can learn a whole lot more about me, myself, I, my lovely wife Jodie, our business and a whole lot more besides.
We welcome you to our world with fully outstretched arms and look forward to you coming aboard.
And finally, we look forward to us being of some form of assistance to you. In as many ways as possible.