It was eight years ago today that my father died on the morning following Trafalgar Day. In happier times, as a 25 year Navy man, it would have amused him. He went from diagnosis to death in three months and really, his only desire at the end, was the avoidance of pain. He described the Hospice at Salisbury District Hospital as ‘paradise’ and to them I am eternally grateful.
After he left the Royal Navy in the seventies he became a commercial artist, though in my teenage mind I preferred the title ‘cartoonist’. Under the name ‘Tugg’ he knocked out 20 ‘singles’ a week in the hope the tabloids would pick-up a few, which they did and on at least one memorable occasion by the mighty ‘Punch’. It was a brave step by a man who was born with this gift and entirely self-taught. The Navy who nurtured his talent also provided work in the form of a strip in the Navy News and various commissions for the great and the good. He loved the Navy and they appeared to love him as he was honoured with a memorial service and a fly past shortly after his death.
He was a happy soul and was mostly amused by life except those ‘pinko lefties’ taking the country to the dogs. He never seemed to mind much that his wife and three sons thought him a few paces right of Attila the Hun. Family gatherings were not complete without a huge political row as nothing gave him more pleasure that winding up his Guardian reading kin. He left me with a tolerance of the right not shared by my peers for, despite his politics, he was a really decent man.
You may be wondering what this has to do with a green Volvo V40 Estate so I shall explain. This was the last car he owned, bought new in 1998 and as my wife needed a car it seemed sensible that we should take it over. I did think it might be a bit big for Gillian but it turned out to be perfect and she grew very attached to it. Somewhat like driving a sofa, it seemed imbued with my father’s character. You might think a massed produced object in this day and age could not have any soul but, on the few occasions I drove it, I always felt his reassuring presence. Whenever Gillian used the ice scraper he had bought that had a built in glove he was remembered fondly and the boiled sweets he had secreted about the car kept us going for months.
The car declined slowly with battery, locks, suspension, alarm all proving troublesome. After seven years, with a new car policy introduced at Gillian’s place of work, it was time to say goodbye. It was sad to see it go and break this connection with my father so I took a few snaps for old time sake. It seemed slightly strange photographing this old car at the time but now I’m glad I did. Still miss the old bugger.
Here are some examples of his work.