My father would have been 90 today. Sadly he died 12 years ago, 20 years after the fateful day he suffered a terrible head injury. But I don’t want to focus on that. I want to focus on his life, and more particularly, his birth year.
Throughout the year, certain men and women of distinction have been celebrated for turning 90. And it dawned on me that my father shared a birth year with some truly amazing people of extraordinary talent. Some are, incredibly, still alive, others not.
Those amongst the living and thriving include none less than David Attenborough, Chuck Berry, Harper Lee, the economist Alan Greenspan and The Queen.
Among those passed away are Fidel Castro (just), Marilyn Monroe, John Coltrane and, my dad’s favourite comedian who lived in the next town even looked about like him, the comedian Eric Morecambe.
1926 was clearly a good vintage. And for a man who knew and loved his wines, that is somehow apt.
The talent of these giants of music, literature, politics, scientific study, comedy, economics, and, well, Monarchy, are huge. These were people who were, and still are, truly gifted or remarkable people. They are all people my dad admired, although I’m not sure about Fidel Castro.
I deliberately didn’t call them celebrities because I felt it would belittle them somehow; most modern celebrities are more skilled at media manipulation and pushing others at the way than being intrinsically gifted and hardworking.
It’s incredible to think these people were born only 8 years after the end of WW1, lived through the birth of the aeroplane, World War 2, saw jazz, TV, and virtually modern everything come to life. No wonder my dad used to comment on how the twentieth century was the fastest paced century ever.
Being born just before Christmas (hence the name), being a man of good taste but also highly fussy (can’t think where I get that from..) he was impossible to buy for so having a birthday right next to Christmas was always a challenge to celebrate properly! My mum would hastily slip in a small celebration meal just before the big day.
If you were alive now, I think Christmas would’ve taken back stage for once.
So, happy birthday Dad. You are in great company. I wish you’d lasted as long as those still standing to tell the tale….