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My father was born into a hard working northern English family, his father and grandfather had built up a fishing empire on the north east coast of England which ranged from fishing boats through to distribution via trucks. They worked hard and enjoyed the fruit of their labour. The money had disappeared by the time I was born but we won’t concern ourselves with that.

My father had a happy enough childhood up until his parents got divorced when he was about 10 years old, divorce was pretty much unheard of in the 1950’s and he was sent to boarding school. During the holidays he would spend most of the time with his father whilst his sister lived with his mother. I suspect he was a bit of a cheeky little sod, he had a wardrobe full of tailored suits at 14 years old and it seems that money was thrown at the problem of what to do with this opinionated boy.

Our story gathers speed when on a school holiday at my grandfathers house one of grandfathers friends touched my father. Touched him in a way that was not acceptable. My father was incandescent with rage. He ran to the wood shed, gathered up an axe and then went chasing the man around the house and garden. He took one swing that almost took the man’s arm off. Then my father ran. He ran and he ran and he ran. He was 16 years old and joined the merchant navy within a matter of weeks and then spent two years travelling onboard ship as a deck hand. he saw the world but it was a tough life and one which you can imagine would be very character building. He still sports some rather fetching naval tattoos that he hates, one of a South Pacific Hula Girl and the other a North American Indian face. He hates them and sees them as the folly of his youth and as a consequence I have never been tempted or even found an image that I would want to look at forever.

After sailing the seven seas my father joined the Royal Air Force as a winch man on helicopters. During an assignment to the Yemen – at a time when there was war in the region – my father and his mate both went down on the winches to pick up bodies, whether alive or dead. My father went to one body, his friend to another. The other body had been placed on top of a mine as a booby trap. The friend was blown to pieces and my father ended up with a lot of shrapnel in his back. Lucky to be alive he spent the following 12 months convalessing and generally mooching around the RAF base until he was approached by a Vice Air Marshall who after hearing my fathers story asked if he would like to become his personal attache for the next year. My father gratefully accepted and spent the year travelling the world again as the high ranking officer visited each and every base. He proudly reportedly that he had the same level security clearance as the Queen.  

After leaving the RAF and tired of all the travelling he went back to the family business and quickly became bored of the simple lifestyle and so he went to London. He did various jobs and ran hotels for a while. He strangely lived in a brothel just off Leiciester Square, it was a church run building and the rent was very cheap. He was happy and comfortable. He socialised with an interesting crowd and a friend of his who was a dentist on Harley Street introduced him to a beautiful girl that was working for him. They fell in love. The beautiful girl was my mother.

My mother… now that’s another story altogether….

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