Miss Bracher lived at the bottom of our street and owned a Wolseley 150. An ageing spinster, the Wolseley’s long face was entirely in keeping with her narrow features and thin life. A few doors up, John Fawcett’s dad owned a Standard Vanguard. A slightly rotund young boy with a matching father, the American inspired design, bench seats and column gear change, were custom-made for the over-size family (young John is second from the left, here).
My dad’s Mk1 Ford Consul with its svelte modern lines was entirely in keeping with my view of the world and my place in it.
We lived at number 12, the duodecimal house. Years later I would come to understand the magic properties of the 1900 Series 24-bit word mainframes, supporting four 6-bit characters per word and using octal for binary short-hand, it was inherently superior to the IBM systems, which used 8-bit bytes and hex. Not everything that is best survives. Similarly, for years I worked on X.400 based messaging systems, a significantly more elegant, reliable and efficient standard to SMTP which is used across the Internet. If I have lost you, worry not – put simply, once everything was right with the world, now I am not so sure.
That uncertainty crept in during my teenage years and never left the room. My passion for the still image, I owe to my dad – an industrial chemist, he taught me the secrets of the dark room at a very young age. I can still conjure him into existence with the smell of developer and fixer. He had no real interest in cars and even less in motor sport. When they became the centre of my existence, we effectively went our separate ways.
That separation means I struggle to connect with his ghost but there are plenty of photographs and, occasionally, words. This from a blog post in 2013: It is from a small photograph album made up of 3 x 2 inch contact prints which he put together as a young boy – they are individually captioned in a manner consistent with a 10-12 year old; this one – Mummy Daddy and Baby:
Earlier this week I got the opportunity to sit in an Austin Ruby, a slightly later model of this car. A wonderful machine, beautifully preserved, it would be a fictional pretence to suggest I was aware of my dad’s presence. However, it did reinforce something I had always felt – we were born to an entirely different age. Dad would have been 100 in 2020 – anything we shared together, is all so long ago: