Saturday, 25 February 2012

An Accident Waiting to Happen

When I was a young child, Dad always seemed to be decorating and whenever he decorated, out came the reel to reel tape player and he would hang wallpaper, hammer nails and slap on paint whilst singing along to the likes of Frank Sinatra, Buddy Holly, Roy Orbison and even early Bob Dylan - all artists who I came to appreciate in later years. He'd been into music from an early age visiting clubs like Ronnie Scotts and the coffee bars of Soho in the 1950s to hear his first love - jazz. As the 1960s progressed he began to listen to more classical music, but still enjoyed pop - I have tapes from the time of him singing Freddie & the Dreamers and Gerry & the Pacemakers songs with me.

Dad the Decorator in 1959

His enjoyment of music continued throughout his life and the care with which he filed and notated his LPs, Cassettes and CDs as he got older often amused me - I could see where I'd got it from.

In his later years, in addition to failing hearing, Dad struggled terribly with his legs, could barely walk and was in constant discomfort. His bolthole was the back room, where with headphone chord stretched across the room he would listen to an album or two every evening. Unfortunately, such was the volume he needed because of his deafness,the headphones were largely pointless and the music was audible all over the house!

During a period of domestic upheavel in the early 2000s, I had to stash my own, by now very large, record collection back at my parents house. Rather than leave boxes piled up, I simply reconstructed the free-standing metal shelving units I'd bought with me around the walls in my old bedroom and filed the records away. Mum took the opportunity to hang makeshift indoor washing lines from shelf to shelf across the room. One day Dad was hanging clothes on the line, but, because of his unsteadiness, lost his balance, snagging a line as he fell, bringing three shelves full of records crashing down, trapping him. He wasn't hurt, but he couldn't free his legs and Mum couldn't get to him for the piles of records and twisted metal covering the lower half of his body - so she called the fire brigade to release him. It was a unique call-out for them and it somehow made the local paper!

Thankfully we all laughed about it later and I insisted that as he had clearly instilled a love of music into me at a young age, Dad had literally brought the accident on himself!

He would have been 82 today. Here's one for you Dad and, to borrow a phrase, thank you for the music.


C said...

What a great story! (Although perhaps not so much for your Dad at the time...) - You paint quite a picture. Hopefully you won't be combining clothes drying with music storage in your new home - if it gets to that point I think you really will know it's time to reduce your collection.. (either records or clothes!)

The Swede said...

No chance of a repeat. I dismantled and discarded the metal shelving in horror as soon as I could after the accident, but the current music (or rather the weight of music) dilemma continues!

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