A bit of a different chat for us today, eh?
Over the last few days, I have been chatting with Dad over Facetime to get this interview written up for today.
I had to explain that I wasn’t writing your obituary. But as this week it’s been my birthday, I thought it would be good to interview you Dad, and see what else I could learn from you.
I am fortunate to share a close relationship with my Dad. Although I don’t remember much from my early childhood, I know that we have spent a lot of time together from backpacking around SE Asia together to spending months at a time since I moved to Malaysia.
So, let’s find out a bit more about my Dad (hopefully not too much) and let’s jump straight into this with my first question.
1. Can you give us a little background information where were you born, first job, etc?
I was born in 1941 in London to a working-class family. My dad worked on the railways and mum was a full-time housewife as was the norm back then.
I hated school and was hardly ever there. When I did go it was to Brockley County Grammar school and as you can imagine being so lazy, I left with no qualifications.
After leaving school my first job was in a Toy and Pram factory and after a few years, I was running my own department.
8-years I was there until I decided to move from London down to Dorset with my best friend and his family. It was a big change for me, moving from the hustle and bustle of London life to the countryside of Dorset.
The life suited me, and I went on long walks and met my wife at British Road Services where I worked in Bournemouth.
2. Soon after moving down to Bournemouth, you got married life and the birth of two wonderful kids, well one at least (guess which one).
Married life in Bournemouth was good. We managed to buy our first house in Winton, and I got my job in the Post Office, where I stayed for the rest of my working life (30 plus years).
5 years after being married and we had our first child, a fantastic boy called Adam who may recognize on this website.
3 years later and we had our second child, a girl who we called Joanne.
The early years were tight, with just one income and inflation at 25% there wasn’t much left over, but we coped.
3. How did your country music band get started?
A colleague at work had a son who played different instruments, so we got together and gradually formed a country music band.
We were looking for a name that wasn’t too corny and was we went with Cottonwood, which is a tree that’s associated with country music.
Playing as Cottonwood we built up a good reputation for good music for listening and dancing too.
One of our regular venues was the Pier show bar in Bournemouth where we played for over 5-years on and off.
I managed the bookings for the band, and we ended up playing at country clubs all around the South of England.
Cottonwood played as a band for 15 years as me playing rhythm guitar and lead singer. It was a good time, great friends and the additional income all helped.
4. Now that I am a dad and have two kids, I am intrigued to find out what was I like as a kid and how was for you being a dad?
Ha, well you were both well-behaved kids and we had no problem taking you out.
You were always very involved in your hobbies, which were martial arts, fishing, music, computer programming, magic and cycling.
I enjoyed getting involved and we had many projects together, even making our own papier-mache game that was like a very complicated 3d version or risk with toy soldiers (you can see this on my about page).
One memory stands out, you were very keen on indoor fireworks and we ended up making some. But you in your wisdom took them to school and then tried to set fire to them. This didn’t end well as you got dragged to the headmaster and subsequently, we were told not to do it again.
There wasn’t a lot I could say to you as I had helped make them!
When you were into magic, we used to do little performances to your sister and to mum (trying to make them disappear).
You were always very keen on your hobbies such that you would make your Christmas wish list in February well in advance, changing often throughout the year.
Your sister, on the other hand, was less worried and a lot more consistent with what she wanted for presents.
In terms of being a Dad, it’s hard to remember as it’s been forty years ago. I just remember doing my best in the circumstances, I mean back then it was a different time.
5. When I left school live changed dramatically for you in more ways than one, what happened?
Well, shortly after you started work your mum and I divorced, and I moved into my own place. It was a tough time of course for everyone but I did my best to make it as easy as possible for you and your sister.
I don’t think personally that I handled the situation too well and I have always felt guilty about this.
[I completely disagree and think you were doing an amazing job considering the situation, I know that I couldn’t have done the same. So, absolutely no reason to be guilty whatsoever – Adam]
I continued working at the Royal Mail post office for full time and then eventually went part-time just working 24 hours a week.
With the extra time, I managed to travel with friends to places like Cuba, the Philippines, and the US.
In 1999 I decided to take early retirement as the job wasn’t the same anymore and just had enough. The package was good enough for me to live on until I got my government pension, so it was an easy decision to make.
I was 59 and only had one year until I got my Post Office pension and then at 65 years old would get the government one as well.
I wasn’t going to be rich but well off to travel and to do my own thing without worrying about having to work again.
6. I remember you being so happy when you finally left the Post Office. You starting planning long-trips away, we even took a 3-month trip to Malaysia, Thailand, and Laos.
When I downsized from my flat and moved into a mobile home that freed up a lot of money that I decided to use for traveling 3-4 months a year.
You suggested we go backpacking in South East Asia in November 1999 and we traveled to Malaysia, Thailand, and Laos. My friend Gordon came with us and I really enjoyed my first time in Asia, one of many trips to come.
One of the funniest memories of that trip was on New Year’s Eve in Chiang Mai, Thailand. We were going out to a bar for the evening to celebrate and you were coerced to take part in the fancy dress for the evening.
None of us knew what you were going to be wearing and when I arrived at the bar, I didn’t recognize you at first. Then when I did, I was a bit concerned considering where we were! Gordon even more so.
[I managed to dig up this picture, you can see we were both surprised by my rather fetching outfit – Adam]
The trip was 3-months in total and in 2004 I went out to stay with you in Chiang Mai and we discussed moving there.
7. After traveling to Thailand a couple of times I convinced you to move thereafter you retired.
Yes, in 2006 I decided to move to Chiang Mai, Thailand, and sold all my belongings and traveled out there alone to start a new life there.
I had already been to Chiang Mai a few times, so it was familiar and initially moved into the condo that my son used to live in (Viangua Mansion. The family who owned the condo was really helpful and this helped me get settled.
It made more sense to move into my bungalow because the cost was cheaper, and I would have more space. I paid around 6,000 baht per month, which was cheaper although it was a little bit out of town.
After 3 years of living in Chiang Mai, I fancied being near to the sea, maybe it was all my time living in Bournemouth influenced me. So, I moved to Hua Hin down south around 2 hours from Bangkok.
I had been there a few times and your friend Toby lived there with his wife.
All in all, I had 3 years down in Hua Hin and although I liked it, I was missed by you and your sister. With your sister expecting my first grandchild I decided to move back to the UK.
8. You eventually moved back to Bournemouth, how come?
After just under 6 years of living in Thailand, I was back in Bournemouth. I soon got back into my usual routine, meeting old friends and visiting you in London every month or so.
I have fond memories of Woolwich Arsenal, coming up to visit you and your wife.
Now that you have moved to Malaysia, it gives me a good excuse to come out to South East Asia again, and although I didn’t make it this year, have been coming out every year since you moved.
After being evicted from you and your sister’s flat (Ha) I moved into a nice one-bedroom flat in Bournemouth only a few minutes away from the beach.
I don’t travel quite as much as I did before but then I am no spring chicken now, time is catching up as I am 79 years old this year. I still have a few more trips to Malaysia in me yet though, so see you soon son.
Thanks, Dad, for being up for posting this interview. It’s been fun although writing down your answers has been challenging, but not as challenging as asking you to send them to me via email.
You have been incredibly supportive of me over the years, from when I wanted to quit a full-time job to go to University to moving away from the UK several times. I really appreciate this although I often don’t say it.
Thanks, Dad, all my love, Adam.