Father’s Day. I never really knew dad as an adult. I was just shifting to adulthood when he died. He exists in the realm of ideas for me. He achieved a great deal. He won a few silver and a few bronze medals driving Olympic bobsleigh long before I was born. He raced cars and powerboats. He traveled the world. He was very much alive for his whole life, and that vitality allowed him to live with cancer for long enough for me to get some paternal advice from him. His last few years he was silent, as the cancer took his voice. He had cravats specially designed to cover the tracheotomy, and he was able to put his finger to a valve and make words, but it hurt him to do so. Even then he kept his vitality and sense of humour. Unable to make a laugh, he would conceal pieces of paper with “ha ha ha” written on them around the room, and when something tickled him he would gesticulate to an object with his stick until someone picked it up and found the note. Then he’d point at himself.
Growing up he taught me by example. I can’t really put my finger on what I know he taught me. He taught me to love being outdoors, to be aware of the beauty around me, and thankful for it. He taught me to speak my mind. He taught me to be suspicious of unearned authority. He taught me a lot more than that, things that I’ll never really know. I think my restlessness derives from him. My desire to see more and feel more.
He gave me my education, and the roof over my head. Every day I thank him for that roof. Without it I wouldn’t be still acting, which he might not be pleased to know. He never wanted me to do this. He once begged me aged 17 to consider something else. Anything else. “I can’t help you with acting. I have no friends at all who do that. I know nothing about it. I can’t give you advice.” He cared about his legacy. He wanted his children to do well. Who knows what he’d make of what I’ve been doing lately. These sporadic varied weird jobs. Although the wide angle focus and the ability to be mutable about my self-identity – I think he might have given that to me.
I miss the old bastard. God he could be mean. But be could be great fun too, and he was fearless.
Today we’ve just finished building a restaurant. We’ve made up over 1.5k covers in silver service. It’s been too hot for this. I’m totally knackered and I have a premonition that this blog is going to devolve into monosyllabic grunting over the next week as the working days get longer and I get more and more tired. Maybe I could take a leaf out of my dad’s book and just write BLOG and point at it frantically with a stick.
I wish he was still here. I miss him and could use his advice. Life is generally pretty hard to fathom. I’ve been swamped for years and am only recently starting to breathe again. Parents can help with that sort of crap. Happy Father’s Day, Norman Barclay you legend. I found this a year ago on his university webpage. Worth a share. There’s not much of him on the internet. I was his youngest and he was of another time…
Born in Glasgow in 1925, Norman Barclay was truly a man of adventure. Nicknamed the ‘godfather of extreme’ by the media, Norman was a daredevil who lived for speed. Equally at home water-skiing across the Irish Sea, motor racing in Formula 2, power boating around the British coast and driving in a road marathon from London to Sydney, Norman frequently risked life and limb in the name of extreme sport.
When he wasn’t speeding downhill or behind the wheel of a racing vehicle, Norman served as a Captain in the Royal Engineers for two years, posted to Malaya and Japan. Later, he built a successful business portfolio in fields as diverse as whisky and plastics.
Norman was a member of the British Bobsleigh team at two Winter Olympics, at Innsbruck 1964 and Grenoble 1968. He also became the President of the British Bobsleigh Association in the early 1990s. Norman spent his final years hunting for treasure on Caribbean shipwrecks and flying hot air balloons.