Skip to main content

On the Death of my Da - March 2007

On the Death of my Da

Last Monday evening my da died.

I called the hospital in Manchester and the doctor broke me whilst I sat on the back seat, upstairs on the C2 bus to Camden.

‘Are you sure you’ve got the right person?’ I asked, and immediately played out Denial.

‘Yes’, she replied.

I got off the bus in Camden and walked through the grunge and trails of spliff and wondered where my da now was. I was sure it wasn’t Camden.

I had to call my brother. He wasn’t answering. So I sent a text – ‘Dad’s Dead’, I said, ‘ten minutes ago’ – the miracle of modern technology.

My brother then called said he was so depressed he wouldn’t mind joining him.

‘Fine’, I said, ‘just make sure you have insurance’.

I reached what passes for ‘home’ and made my usual supper of oatcakes, bananas and a glass of soya milk and felt guilty at sticking to my ritual. Then I realised that the first episode of Sopranos series six was starting that night.

I called my dad’s sister and broke her. She cried. I cried but then she passed the phone to her second husband, a man I barely know. That’s when I stopped crying.

She asked if we were sending him back to Ireland. I thought money.
Then I thought Home – that was Us, for him, us, his grown up children – we were his home, and he ours.

Then I got the poem out that I would read at his funeral, Those Winter Sundays, by Robert Hayden – miles of meaning in each line, known only to us – to him.

And the song?

We thought of something by The Pogues – Fairytale of New York would be an apt statement of his and our mum’s marriage, but instead we unanimously agreed on Peter Gabriel’s Salisbury Hill because of the words ‘Pack your things I’m gonna take you home’, which is what we wanted to do. Now. Pack his things and take him home. And it’s what he had said, over the years, to each and every one of his seven children.

There’ll be no one in the world now to say that to us with the same meaning.

I just hope he knew how loved he was.

B. Webb C 2009

Popular posts from this blog

Who was Mary Burns?

On 7th January 1863 Mary Burns was found dead from a suspected heart attack. She was 43 years old. Since her death Mary has received barely any attention despite the fact that she spent over twenty years as the common-law wife of Friedrich Engels, one of the world’s most influential thinkers and the co-founder of Marxism.

Born in 1822, Mary was the oldest surviving child of textile dyer and factory operative, Michael Burns, and Mary Conroy, Irish immigrants from Tipperary. Mary’s parents had married at St. Patrick’s in an area known casually as Irish Town, one of few Catholic churches in Manchester at that time. The year of Mary’s birth and her infancy were significant in that Manchester was still dealing with the aftermath of the event that became known as the 1819 Peterloo Massacre, a peaceful protest of the working-classes on the site of St. Peter’s Fields in which several people were killed and hundreds injured. The Massacre occurred when magistrates, alarmed at the size of t…

My PhD critical paper

I thought I'd upload the critical element of my PhD thesis. Hopefully, for those who are interested enough to read it, it will make sense despite the references to my creative work, which I can't upload as I'm seeking publication. And besides, at 68,000 words...

I'm also going to tweak section one of this three section critical paper with a view to journal publication because of the academic interest in the claims I make of Mary.




-Dedicated with love and respect to Dr Bruce Lloyd-


And in memory of my parents:
Thomas Valentine and Joan Theresa
Good people who taught me so much more than they realised

***


The biggest thank-you is due to Norma Clarke, Professor of English Literature and Creative Writing at Kingston University, who supervised this PhD. I never had cause to doubt my initial instincts as Norma proved to be the best mentor I could ever have wished for.

I would also like to acknowledge the generous studentship that I was fortunate to be awarded by Kingston Universi…

Midwinter Break - Bernard McLaverty

The only other book that I've read of Bernard MacLaverty was the sublime Grace Notes, published in 1997, and shortlisted for the Booker Prize of the same year. That prize was awarded to an author of another similar hiatus recently broken, Arundhati Roy, of the widely acclaimed The God of Small Things. I was certain, when buying the kindle version of Midwinter Break, that MacLaverty's first book in seventeen years (Cal, 2001, was his most recent) had made both the Booker Longlist and Shortlist - but having just double-checked - am disappointed and confused to find it had made neither. MacLaverty's prose style feels Yatesian, after the late Richard Yates, US author of Revolutionary Road, and TheEaster Parade
Midwinter Break, set in Amsterdam, is written in the same deliciously clear and poignant prose that so widely marked out Grace Notes. The husby and I have not long returned from a late summer break in that same fabulous city. With the visit to the Rijksmuseum still fre…