15 February 2015
A clip from my fundraiser for Resonance FM recorded at the Big Green Bookshop in Wood Green.
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My dad was an eccentric man who came to London from Spain’s Deep South in 1970 to marry my mum. Settling on the borders of Clapham and Stockwell in south London’s long-since disappeared Spanish community, he missed his homeland and the simplicity of his old life in La Linea, the last Spanish town before Gibraltar.
He stood apart from his fellow exiled Spaniards who viewed him as an outsider. Refusing to exist in the Mediterranean bubble the community hold themselves up in, and displaying a curiosity and inclination to adapt to his new surroundings evident in all too few Spaniards, he engaged in a thirty-year battle to master the English language, which right until the end gave him no end of problems.
As awkward and difficult as they come, my dad moved from job to job, his over familiarity with the P45 something I would later emulate effortlessly. Moving through the decades sporting the same borderline mullet courtesy of Andy, the local Greek barber, my dad was also a fitness fanatic and a familiar sight in Clapham from the seventies to the early noughties, running through the high street and Clapham Common long before jogging became fashionable, usually in a distinctive bright red 70s tracksuit that like his hairstyle, had long ceased to be fashionable.
Despite a natural gift for football, I did not share my dad’s love of strenuous physical activity. Trained every weeknight as a boy on my dad’s beloved Common, my aversion to throwing myself about on the muck-ridden turf during our goalkeeping drills soon drove a wedge between us that was never quite repaired.
Reluctantly accepting that I lacked the drive to make it as a professional footballer, my dad gave up on his dreams for me and in 1984, took himself off to night school and effectively never came back. For the next eighteen years, he took every course going until the college threw him out. Reinstated after successfully appealing, he simply began repeating courses he had already done.
My mum’s sudden passing less than sixty days into the new millennium brought about a late in the day rapprochement between us that was sadly all too brief. In August 2002, my dad went missing and I began a summer-long, and ultimately fruitless, search for him.
The A to Z of Me and My Dad looks at my relationship with my dad via the alphabet and the uncomfortable similarities that have often led to me making many of the same mistakes he made.
This is our story.