My father is 88 today. And, all things considered (which currently includes being in hospital with a broken hip), he is pretty well. When I was last home, he told a story about how he had come to visit me in my flat in Brussels in the 90s and as he was struggling up the hill (weak ankles, a family failing), a lady had come up to him and said, “Monsieur, you must sit down.” He felt obliged to and went into a bar where he felt very glum. He didn’t mention it to me at the time but the other day he said to me, “I felt it was like that Edith Sitwell poem ‘Cold Death had taken his first citadel‘”
But yet, be that as it may, here he is nearly 20 years later, still largely fine. And, oh so much like he ever was: he is a great man for steam trains and recently I texted him a picture of one I took in the National Photographic archive and he instantly texted back “Ballydehob Viaduct?” Quite right too.
I have to say, I didn’t really expect that when I was 44 and he was 88 my father would still know everything but so it is. And what is more, the older I get the more I realise that he is absolutely right about everything. I suppose it is only a question of time before I start to take the Telegraph.
Happy Birthday Daddy, and here’s to many more of them.