09 November 2012


I am entitled to wear my father's KCMG insignia at this year's Remembrance Day service at the British Cemetery.

Indeed, that is where Dad is buried.

My mother used to dutifully don the Star and Badge and looked very natty in her grey suit.

The Star would go round my neck and drape just below my Windsor knot - Balliol tie, I think. No point in not being 'safe' on the neck, as my grandpa had it.

But I had second thoughts - in fact, no thoughts because I knew it felt completely wrong.

Kind types encouraged me and talked of showing respect and honouring my father's hard work, and so forth. But I never felt sure about it.

I think this is why: I never really knew Dad and he died here in Corfu when I was still working in London and, in fact, not aware that Dad was even close to death. This happened in reverse with my mother ~ I was right here in the house and knew to the precise last gasp when she'd quit this coil.

Of course, I would love to step out in the Michael/George bling and swan and swank, but I think I know what holds me back with such definite sureness. I've been thinking through it.

The honour was conferred on dad for over 35 years' honest hard graft and decency. The medals represent something.

I came to Corfu six years ago to do a straightforward job of Caregiver to my mother.

It has been six years in a culture of theft, defined and represented by the stealing behind my back of my entire collection of personal jewelry heirlooms for my daughters - cufflinks, tiepins, knick-knacks collected and treasured over 50 years - and kept safe thru schooldays, university, foreign travel, marriage, fatherhood - only coming a cropper under my own roof and the only other person in the house.

Not just theft of possessions but theft of time, of dignity, of self-respect ... a time of rotting values and the stench of self-referential obtuseness.

What could contrast more with the values held firm by my father? What I have seen and heard and the attitudes and treatment ... a complete collapse of everything Dad stood for, and this is brd-in-the-bone vileness.

It's as if I would be ashamed to take the medals out and expose them to the world that followed him.

Having been at the losing end of the thieving and the garden slaving and the lies and trickery and thwarting of my best efforts to deliver the best care possible ... all the dishonesty and dissembling that went into effortlessly sidelining me until my automaton role was useful, I feel as if the filth would rub off on the medals.

Of course there is also shame at having taken such treatment so meekly. I should have walked out of the cesspit and never looked back; I should have raged and rampaged and wreaked proper violence at the time.

Too late now, my timing was off or some mis-begotten sense of duty or just a desire to help.

But no medals for caving in to such low behaviour and allowing it to stink and fester.

No comments :