Looking back on that weekend there was no sign of his illness or what might follow in the coming months.
It was a fantastic weekend and serves as a fitting memory to all the positive times I had with my old man.
|The old man is on the left...|
I decided that I wanted to honour him on this blog because without his passion for military history and toy soldiers I would have never discovered this wonderful hobby.
There is no doubt that thee will be many kind words said about him in the industry that gave him such a wonderful and fruitful career and he will be sorely missed by my mother, my brother and his family and of course Shedwife, Shedson and Sheddotte.
Indeed he is not only responsible for introducing me to the world of military modelling but also many of the practical skills that have enabled me to build not only the existing Shed but also all the terrain we play on. I remember fondly that he allowed me to use his tools whenever I wanted on the proviso that they were always put back after use. This self learning inevitably ended up in hospital with various cuts and stitches.
His practical skills were honed in the theatre. For many years he took the lead in stage management and set design for the local amateur dramatic pantomime productions. Throughout my childhood my brother and I would be dragged from our beds on a Sunday morning to wield paintbrushes on large stage canvases or climb perilous heights to fix leaves to giant beanstalks. His garage/come workshop, was filled with stage props from shields to swords and even complete sits of armour constructed from drain pipe plastic. It was a wonderful world of imagination and creativity.
He taught me how to fish, to enjoy a good malt whisky, appreciate fine foods and good wine. He introduced me the world of Sherlock Holmes, fictional history, starting with Bernard Cornwell, and a wealth of contacts and associates on which I could build my career.
We had some fantastic family holidays including visits to all the castles in Northumberland, a trip to California (where he was arrested on the freeway for driving too slow), and a wonderful time in the Emerald Isle.
He was a great raconteur, a most generous host and a loving husband, father and grand father.
He built the first Shed - a large cabin in my folks garden where our very first wargames were fought and hours would speed by playing Dungeons and Dragons.
Like so many of his generation he completed his national service in the Royal Fusiliers and saw action in many parts of east Africa and the Middle East. He was proud of serving his country but when pressed never really spoke of his time in the forces.
Although he never took part in a wargame ( it is a regret that I never really asked him) he painted 54mm figures to a good standard and many of these are displayed on view in the family home. He was absorbed in military history and had an indepth knowledge of the British wars from 1815 to the end of the colonial period. Of all the historical genres the Anglo Zulu Wars was his favorite.
I remember fondly going to see Zulu in the cinema in the 1970's and when I had the opportunity to take him back to see the film for its 50th anniversary screening in Leicester square there were tears in his eyes.
In the few weeks before he passed away he watched the same film again with his grandsons just like my brother and I had done so many years earlier. The Zulu film was instrumental in our household procuring its first video tape recorder in 1979, when we discovered the film was to be shown at Christmas that year on the TV we badgered him to get hold of a machine so he could record it.
Perhaps it is fitting that we have chosen the music of this film to be played at his funeral.
I had hoped to complete my Zulu Wars project before his passing and as he detiorated I would talk to him of the units completed and those to be done. Sadly he'll never see the finished article but every time we play using those red coats and assegai armed warriors I'll remember him.
As I complete this very personal obituary I realise that I owe him so much and that mere words cannot do justice to the the wonderful father and great friend that I have lost.
Thank you and with love...may you rest in peace,,,