This pic was my old man.
His actual name was Ernest John Dunlop, and he was born in Scotland. He was put into an orphanage and moved down to London, so you'd never know he wasn't from Hastings, where I and my brother grew up. We used to call him Padge, that was our family nickname. It's sheer coincidence I came across this pic today googling pop's name for no reason, but I'm glad I did. I won't lie the image of him took me aback quite a bit. He looks so...withered and ghostly. I have heard that he liked the booze over there in Belize from others comments and that too is baffling to me as one thing Dad was not was a drinker. In the 20 years I was with him before he left I never once saw any alcohol cross Dad's lips- always had a cig in them.. but never the drink as he was completely teetotal, and not only that but he was a tough old goat, strong as a bull and nothing like he looks in this pitiful pic. It's depressing to see how the rum clearly sapped all of that away and the fact that he was some sort of beggar and a bit of a nuisance to some is even more incredulous. I guess he was a bit of a dark horse in that sense because to me Dad was a great man and honorable man, a respectable man in his time. He was always a little skint but boy did he do right by his kids and was the best pop you could ever imagine. Never let us down, not even once and he never cheated anybody. And he was always a good laugh too, friendly to everyone and absolutely beloved by all the family. He was extremely kind, almost to a fault and mum used to hate the lengths he'd go to help out total strangers. She almost throttled him once in Florida when he picked up a crazed, drugged-out hitchhiker with us kids in the back. My best memories of him were us all sitting around the telly and him making my brother and I cry with laughter at his comments during the duller movies we all watched together, and him taking me out to the local cafe for a cup of tea and an egg sarnie when he was running the taxi rank. What I'd give to have inherited his social skills. Got the singing voice at least- it doesn't surprise me to hear he liked the karaoke box because he certainly loved his Elvis and the guitar. He was also an incredibly street smart fellow and a great tradesman; he converted the entire top of our house into a flat all by himself, the plumbing, electrics, the lot- all by going through manuals. He was bloody good with his hands and a bit wasted as a taxi driver in my opinion. Still can't believe he had to resort to begging...
Sadly mum and him were like chalk and cheese in terms of personality and though he was a great bloke I think she resented the fact that she had to become something of the breadwinner and they parted ways when I was around twenty. Well, and there were the other birds of course (could've been more discreet, dad lol!) Dad used to say things like he'd move abroad one day, and he was sort of fascinated with pirates and the yo ho ho lifestyle and I think he had fantasies of being a buccaneer- and so it came as little surprise he upped and left to Belize when he did. We never had much chance to communicate after that and the next thing I know I'm 30 and getting a message from my sister that he'd passed away. I'm 43 now and ruminate quite a bit over how he spent his final later years, which leads me to my question; does anyone know how he actually passed? We were never really told.
I'm hesitant to ask as I've heard all sorts of rumours- the daftest of which being some sort of complication from the necrosis he got from a spider bite? If it was a gammy leg he left to rot then I hope he didn't go too painfully, poor old sod. There's a part of me that wishes he'd headed back to England and gone on the dole instead of the way he chose to lead his life at the end, but knowing him and his resolve he would've translated that as a failure of sorts.
Oh pop, fate sure shafted you at the end didn't it...hope you're up there with your smokes and a fine lady or two.
Thanks for listening to my ramble everybody, have a good one.