Q+A

How’s your dad?
He’s telling me how good he feels, before I’ve even got in the door. He’s saying how he’s been out in the garden digging up the Gunnera. He’s saying how he has a few aches and pains, but nothing too serious and then he’s patting my mum on the back when she tells him to stop talking about himself all the time.

How’s your dad?
He’s playing us another track by Iggy Pop as he drives us to the restaurant. He’s turning it up loud and we’re sitting there, giving in.

How’s your dad?
He’s making me laugh. He’s coming out with things that would earn anyone else a slap. He’s saying he can’t help it. My mum is rolling her eyes, but even she’s smiling.

How’s your dad? He’s telling this woman that he should have gone months ago. He’s saying how important it is to count your blessings and how grateful he is to still be able to get around. He’s telling her he’s got tumours everywhere. He’s not stopping.

How’s your dad?
He’s in pain all of a sudden. He’s asking if we can go and we are waving to the waitress for the bill. He’s pacing around now, over to the fire exit and back, trying to take his mind off of it. The waitress isn’t coming.

How’s your dad?
He’s lying down. We had to go to the emergency pharmacist to get him some Diazepam. We’re in the kitchen drinking herbal tea and mum’s trying to hide the red rings around her eyes.

How’s your dad?
He’s complaining that the eggs my mum cooked aren’t right. He’s refusing to eat. He’s in one of those moods.

How’s your dad?
He’s sitting in the old cane chair in the garage. Smoke is wafting around him. He’s making one of his lists that never gets done.

How’s your dad?
He’s going on a shamanic journey with the next door neighbour. He met his spirit guide who came to him in the form of a crow. He’s hoping to meet again for some kind of conversation. He’s moving to the next level.

How’s your dad?
He’s dressed up for a party nextdoor. He’s wearing the orange and blue trousers that he wore to see Iggy. He reckons the chemo is working.

How’s your dad?
He’s talking about the blackbirds again. He thinks it’s the same one that always comes up the garden path to greet him. He reckons the bees are on his wavelength too.

How’s your dad?
He’s spent the day on the sofa. He’s talking quietly with his eyes closed and grunting as he moves the hot water bottle round to a new ache. He’s nodded off.

How’s your dad?
He’s feeling weak. His face has turned yellow. He’s in these pyjamas that show off his stick-thin legs. He’s discussing personal arrangements with the nurse. He’s holding my hand very tight.

How’s your dad?
He’s alright now.

I wrote bits of this while my dad was ill. It’s just over a year ago that he passed away, so I thought I would put it out there.

The garage

Since I can remember, the garage has always been full of junk. My dad, who was its main inhabitant, was somewhat of a hoarder when it came to things that may or may not be useful and over time, content grew steadily. In his later years, however, my dad became less interested in the usefulness of things and more concerned with an object’s artistic merit (a highly subjective matter) and was partial to using various odds and ends in some of his more abstract photographic work.

About this time, he also started opening up the garage to people who were following the North Bristol Art Trail as our house was a venue for a number of years. Things were (vaguely) arranged into displays, wording was added and a few of my dad’s photographs were slipped into the gaps. 

It only featured for a couple of years, though, due to his reluctance to maintain his membership of the organisation and increasing ill-health. 

After a brief fling with notoriety, the garage went back to being what it always was, a smokers den for my dad and a few friends. Lastly, it served as a welcome change of scene from the living room sofa where he lived out the remainder of his days.

While there are many things I could say about the recent loss of my father, I decided to let pictures do the talking. So here is my ode to the garage, a place that speaks volumes about his character and personality and made for a fascinating photo project too.