Sunday, 24 April 2016

Family life: Dad’s party days, Sailing by Rod Stewart and Nan’s Magic Snowballs

Playlist: The Best of Rod – the only record allowed

Sailing by Rod Stewart
I am sailing, I am sailing / Home again, ’cross the sea / I am sailing, stormy waters / To be near you, to be free
Music was rare in our household, due to my father’s dislike of any noise other than that generated by his own power tools. Not once did I hear my dad sing along to a song, whistle a tune, tap his fingers in time to a beat, turn on the radio in the car or (heaven forbid) dance around the kitchen.
He doesn’t understand why other people like music either. He views the use of headphones not as a way of escaping the mundane, but as a way of advertising yourself to muggers. When he realised my sister and I listened to the Top 40 countdown in our own bedrooms, he insisted on us sharing a room to “save electricity” and then to turn the volume down, because it was “too bassy”.
Family holidays driving through Cornwall and France would be silent apart from the running commentary and regular exclamations of: “Hang on, let’s get me bearings,” “I’ve got a car right up my backside,” and “I knew there’d be nowhere to park.”
This all changed one day when he saw a French medieval band playing in castle grounds in Normandy. To everyone’s surprise he stopped to listen, and then – fuelled by the holiday spirit and too much sun – to our absolute horror he opened his wallet and bought their cassette. Instead of being tortured by silence, my sister and I were now being battered by indecipherable lyrics and music with no melody.
On returning home, this cassette was placed next to the stereo beside the only other one my dad owned, The Best of Rod Stewart. I recall this album being played only once, on one of the few occasions my parents hosted a party, and Sailing is the song I associate with that rare day. The other cassette was, mercifully, never played again.
I do have many good memories of my dad but, sadly, this is the only one I can relate to music. Or, at least, music with a recognisable tune and comprehensible words.

Robert Davies

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