'E was 'Arry me old man: Remembering and Passing

Peter B. GiblettStarred Page By Peter B. Giblett, 12th Jan 2014 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Family>Bereavement

It has been a few years since my father died I do still remember him fondly and wanted to remember him in a special way, through talking about him. Harry Giblett was special to his family, my brother Bob and I did love him so much and do thank him for being just that little different, and making him all the more memorable.

From Michaelmas to...

He possessed the heart and soul of a true Londoner and I remember how as we drove through that great city he would point out places he had helped build as a builder during the period of post-war expansion in Britain, including one sky-rise office building where the bulldozers moved in the day after building completed and knocked down the building in order to create a new motorway, connecting the heart of London to the rest of the country, he was very philosophical about how that project was, but certainly he had his part in creating the modern city of London.

Yet for the majority of his life he moved away from the big city to raise us boys at a more sedate pace, as we moved to the south coast, just before my younger brother Bob was born, but h never gave up being a Londoner at heart and talked with a true London accent, most particular in the use of the letter "h", because when he spoke it was always missing from his annunciation. I loved the fact that he shared a birthday with my mother-in-law, because it was only after I was married that I knew precisely the date of his birthday, prior to that he always gave obtuse answers relating to Michaelmas day.

A Few Snippets from a Lifetime

These are of course my personal memories rather than the ones he would favour and I would have no direct knowledge for example of his courtship with my mother.

On a freezing cold summer's day I can remember being pushed along in a pram all day as my mum and dad protested, it turns out this was a nuclear disarmament demonstration run by CND, one of my earliest memories.

On a July day in 1966 I remember him shouting to us boys as we played football in a neighbour's yard the fact that England beat Germany 4 - 2 in the world cup final "Thanks Dad" I remember responding as one of the other boys also said sarcastically "Thanks Mr G." They were all thinking the same as I was and that was we were waiting to see the game on "Match of the Day".

I remember talking to mum and dad about how prices went up when Britain decimalised the currency, the comparison being the humble bag of chips which went from 6 pence (old money) to 5 new pence (that was not supposed to happen because the country went from 240 pennies to the pound to 100) and the price should have been 2 and a half new pence, part of the general rip-off that happened at the time.

I remember dad cycling down a hill outside a line of stationary cars (all waiting to turn right) and being knocked off his bike by one who turned just before he did. Oops, that only caused bumps and bruises which is fortunate, but it also reminds me of another cycling story from the same period.

We were attending the wedding of one of my cousins and dad decided that he was going to cycle to London and left in the morning. My mother was a person who always left too late for anything she did not mean to but simply lost track of time, well we eventually left and took the back route to London and caught up with my dad about 20 miles from the destination, but when we arrived we had missed the wedding and were even late for the reception.

The day I started work was the day my father's severance was announced (he had been working with the Port of Southampton for about 20 years) and he never did work again, other than on part time building projects for people he knew.

I remember a time we visited dad in hospital with my wife and son, there granddad told grandson a whole load of racist and sexist jokes, the only two laughing were Harry and his grandson Karim the rest of us were embarrassed by the whole thing and looking at each other disowning him, but I suppose that is a memory moment albeit a perverse one, that even Karim will remember about his grandfather.

What he Enjoyed

I would have to say that his passions in life were politics, football, and jazz music.

Harry Giblett was a communist and demonstrated for every cause he believed in, with nuclear disarmament early in my life and pensioners rights being a big passion at the tail end of his life. As a committed activist it was natural that he was a union man and spent time as an workplace organiser for much of his working life. There were times my brother and I had to accompany them on whatever cause they were fighting. But I also remember that my need to question things and not take what others say for granted comes from my parents joint passion in the political arena.

He loved the game of football (or soccer for those in North America) and one team in particular, The Arsenal, from north London was both his local and his favourite team, and for the record they are the only team that have never been relegated from the top flight of English football and used to be a side that I did not like, but since the death of my father I have taken another look at the team and in his honour and have been following them ever since and thy are riding high today.

Jazz music was something he listened to whenever he had access to a radio, record player (as we called them in those days) and the curious thing about my mother and father is that she only appreciated classical music and to her anything else was like a chorus of cats, so my father's listening to Jazz, or my preference for Rock music were very much to her distaste. He persisted with this love of jazz when he had time to himself and I particularly remember that he enjoyed American songwriter Paul Robeson and he was not ashamed to say that it was because Robeson was very much a rebel.

The Words to the Song

Saying that Paul Robeson represented a rebellious generation of American music was precisely the reason hat drew my father to his music, Given that he was born in 1920 a fondness to Jazz was as natural as me growing an interest in Rock having been born in the late 50s. Here are the words to one of his favourite songs, courtesy Paul Robeson

He was very interest in the inequalities that had existed in the USA and the struggle of the black man for freedom and drew inspiration from those struggles for those things he believed in.

    Colored folks work on de Mississippi,
    Colored folks work while de white folks play,
    Pullin' dose boats from de dawn to sunset,
    Gittin' no rest till de judgement day.

    Ol' man river,
    Dat ol' man river
    He mus' know sumpin'
    But don't say nuthin',
    He jes' keeps rollin'
    He keeps on rollin' along.

Our Special Memories

One of the pictures of my father Harry and my wife, Afroz taken at our wedding in 1985 and transferred to digital later.

Tags

Arsenal, Cnd, Communist, Football, Harry Giblett, Jazz, London, Londoner, Michaelmas, Nuclear Disarmament Demonstration, Places He Had Helped Build, Southampton

Meet the author

author avatar Peter B. Giblett
Author of "Is your Business Ready? For the Social Media Revolution"

Social media consultant, with C-Level background.

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Comments

author avatar Phyl Campbell
13th Jan 2014 (#)

Just full of memories today, huh? Sometimes nostalgia is good for the soul. Thanks for sharing.

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author avatar cnwriter..carolina
13th Jan 2014 (#)

how wonder filled is this Peter! thank you so very much..it makes my heart sing...

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author avatar Dan Dawson Sr.
13th Jan 2014 (#)

What a nice piece to keep his legacy and life's views alive. That's the best thing we can do to honor our Dads.
Only the best,
Dan

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author avatar Sivaramakrishnan A
14th Jan 2014 (#)

Yes our lives reflect the times we were raised that leave an indelible impression in our minds. Touching and lively recollection, thanks Peter - siva

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author avatar Fern Mc Costigan
15th Jan 2014 (#)

Excellent and interesting post!

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author avatar Ptrikha
15th Jan 2014 (#)

Great memories!

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author avatar Retired
20th Jan 2014 (#)

Peter, your writing about your dad reminds me so much of my dad. Like yours, my dad was a true Cockney. "'ere, you 'eard this one?" was his preamble to a stream of typical London jokes - of which he had no short supply. A tank driver during WWII, he used to tell us kids of the fun parts of the war. One of his favourite stories was about his time in Italy at the end of the war when he was billeted in Rimini, with three German POWs in his charge. While the POWs were waiting for processing before being sent back to Germany, the four of them went out on the town to imbibe fanatically in the local wine. With a pistol strapped to his belt (tank drivers were issued pistols, which they wore at the front, rather than rifles), my father drove the jeep on their outward journey, but one of the 'prisoners' invariably had to drive them back to the house in which they were billeted. The pistol was usually under the seat and they had to search for it in the morning, after sobering up. When I asked him if he was worried about the POWs escaping, he said "No. Go where, for what? The war was over". He had many war stories that intrigued, not only us kids, but many adults as well. Never once did he mention the ugly side of war. It wasn't until his funeral four years ago that I understood why he had so many medals. Pipers from his old regiment attended his funeral because he was one of the veterans of a dark piece of modern history. Basically an uneducated East Ender, it never ceased to amaze me that he learned to speak Arabic, Italian and German fluently during his time in the army. After being demobbed, he got a job as a driver. Unfortunately, his first post-war employers were the famous Kray twins. He didn't stay long in that job. "Keep the engine running Bert. We'll only be a few minutes." Ominous words. After that he became a steel erector. Many years later he was still heard complaining that he had left his cigarettes and lighter at the top of one of the four chimneys at Battersea Power Station. I did offer to climb up and see if they were still there. He didn't accept my offer. "Nah. Too dangerous goin' up there!"

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author avatar Peter B. Giblett
22nd Jan 2014 (#)

Mike, Thank you. Whilst my dad was involved in WW2 he NEVER talked about it to us children and it was what he had seen and experienced that caused him to be anti-war later in life.

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author avatar Retired
22nd Jan 2014 (#)

Understandable. Like so many other people, my father lost more than a few family members and friends who were either killed in battle or in the constant air raids on London and other cities. When he was demobbed, he came home to find not the home he grew up in, but a pile of rubble and no one there to welcome him back. My stepmother was a nurse in London during the war and she experienced the horrors of the bliz, but very rarely spoke of it.

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author avatar Mariah
16th Feb 2014 (#)

Nice meeting ya 'Arry..RIP

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