Thursday, April 26, 2012
Factual Storytelling Exercise
Because maybe, you're gonna
be the one that saves me...
Oasis' Wonderwall is the most important song I have ever heard, and I have no doubt it will remain so throughout my life; it's always been one of my dad's favourite songs so I think it was important to him, and I appreciate it now because I don't ever remember a time when I didn't know the words to one of pop culture's most iconic love songs. I have so many memories associated with the song; I remember dancing my heart out as a child with our family friends and their kids, like twenty of us there must have been, just in this room on a Friday night after having had pizza and the adults had had a few drinks, and whenever Wonderwall would come on everyone would just sing their hearts out and no-one had a care in the world.
I have many such memories, but none will ever compare to actually seeing Wonderwall performed live when I was twelve or thirteen, my dad by my side. I’ve always known that I was his ‘Wonderwall’, that my birth was the most important and amazing thing to ever happen to him, but I didn’t really understand that concept until I heard him singing the words along with Noel and looking at me. It’s not my place to tell my dad’s story, but it’s not the easiest one, nor is it the most pleasant - but it ends (and then begins again) with me coming into his life.
Everyone has a past; my dad's is more interesting than most. For as long as I can recall, he won't sit with his back to an open space, because "you never know who might walk through the door". On top of this, I can't imagine my dad without the faint scars on his neck from youthful football hooliganism; nor the anecdotes that peppered our adventures together - stories of wild years, shady characters, fighting people because they supported the other team, and, my personal favourite, throwing a policeman into a canal. One of the most intelligent and insightful men I have ever had the pleasure of knowing, my dad has forever been one of my biggest inspirations, not only due to his work ethic, music taste and intellect; but for what he overcame throughout his life.
No-one has it easy, but my dad had it tougher than most. Raised without Christmas by fanatical Jehovah's Witness Elders, your typical boyhood scamp had nowhere to go but down the road to Nowhereville, Boozing and Breaking Shit, population, Wasted Youth.
Within a couple of months of meeting my mother, my dad had cornered her in a shop doorway as they walked home from the pub one night, refusing to let her out until she agreed to marry him - thinking he was just drunk and would forget by the morning, she finally agreed. This was on a Saturday night, and as he didn't mention it the next day, my mother, who knew already that she loved him deeply but had never wanted to get married, thought she was off the hook. Then, on the Monday, he returned home informing her that he'd gone to the registry office and booked them in - two months later she donned a gold mini-dress, flowers in her hair and declared herself Mrs. Julie Sowter.
In a way, I'm sure she "saved" him, but from the way my father looks at me, I know if it weren't for me, he wouldn't be the man he is now. From running plain 'packages' from Nottingham to London in his youth, skipping school every day at fourteen to hang around and play pool in bars, and getting into more than his fair share of trouble with the law; in his adulthood my father built himself up to own a successful building and roofing company, made a name for himself doing what he loved to do, and ultimately came to a point in his life where he was able to make the dream of moving to Byron Bay, Australia, a reality. I can say with confidence that most of his achievements, particularly emigrating across the world, were for me.
So often I hear the phrase "the kid never stood a chance" - but knowing on such a personal level someone who started out with nothing at all; was told his whole life he was worth nothing and succumbed to this idea for a while; then managed, by the skin of his teeth, to make something of his life for sake of the life that he created; I find it hard not to believe that anyone is capable of doing absolutely anything in the world.
I wouldn’t be who I am today if it weren’t for my dad. He took the first couple of years of my life off work because he didn’t ever want to be apart from me; he carried me around in a sling, took me everywhere with him, because he wanted me around all the time; he taught me to read; he tried to teach me to love his other true love, football; he introduced me to the bands that made his heart swell to bursting point, and in turn ignited the musical fire that burns inside me today. My dad taught me that no matter what life throws at you, you can come out kicking and fighting, and you can come out on top.
One day I hope to find someone worthy of being my Wonderwall.