20 August 2018

centennial II

The second parental centennial arrives today: 20 August and it coincides with Mary's birhday. Just as I felt moved to make Kathleen the subject of my 2016 marmalade edition, I also decided to mark Stan's centennial with a special marmalade label; but limiting his edition to three jars: he didn't make it, but he ate it.

Stan survived my mother by some nineteen years during which time he was more or less successful in looking after himself after having been supported throughout his teaching career by Kath's catering and companionship. Stan didn't like living alone after Kath died but he got on with it. But he was liberated to continue his Peak Park Wardening, and spend as much time as he wanted in his favourite landscapes;  he became quite an expert on the footpaths and bridleways of the Peak District as well as gaining considerable ability to recognise plants and wildlife in those places he explored.

The picture that graces the top left of this page (by a school photographer) is of Stan as a primary school teacher in the mid 1950s. My father wasn't much good at a lot of things but he was a singularly good teacher: imaginative, creative, enthusiastic, caring. The best teacher I ever studied under in fact. But he had difficulty in leaving his teaching disciplines at the school gate at times, and also found fitting into the small town society he taught in quite difficult.

In his retirement years Stan accrued good friendships as well as a growing number of ex-pupils who recognised him and liked him. His lack of imagination in social terms didn't matter most of the time and he continued to be a good Socialist right up until he became a victim of the cancer that brought his life to a close and his walking and enquiry to an end. The picture on the right was taken by my friend and his, BG, and featured in his newspaper obituary.

It was after his death that Stan's orderliness became even more apparent, because he left his finances in immaculate order, surprising us all by leaving us quite a bit more in his will than we thought he had: I sorted his affairs, which he had made a relatively simple task. I am not sure why he didn't live a bit more 'generously' and comfortably – I would have preferred it if he had; but Stan was largely his own man and did things very much his own way, sometimes when a better way may have been apparent. Austerity was his watchword (except with double cream, I seem to remember).

So on 20 August 2018 I salute my father: thanks Stan, for what your generosity, in the end, has allowed us to benefit from. It has made a considerable difference to the quality of our retirements. Here is the conserve special for this centennial:

Footnote: The author of the picture (above right) is keen to point out that it was a misty day, and that Stan is sitting on a bench on the top of the hill in Bradley Wood that was placed there specifically to meet his needs for rest and recuperation, by someone who had had their ear bent by Stan concerning the lack of suitable places to sit for 'senior' walkers. Apparently he had banged on about it (no doubt at length) and the next time Stan went up there, there was this bench! I think that is what he may be chuckling about . . . he certainly considered it to be his bench, thereafter . . .