Fathers Day



They say Fathers Day is the invention of the people at Hallmark Cards. That doesn’t make it a bad idea. If someone told me Hallmark had just invented the wheel or the toilet brush or brotherly love, I hope I’d give those ideas worthy consideration.


No it’s not Hallmark that’s my problem. (And I do have more than one problemwith Fathers Day, none more pressing than where to place the apostrophe. I have every confidence I’d dispute whatever verdict were chosen. You only have to look at this paragraph to see I like the apostrophe, I cherish it and I bewail its* public fate.)


When the first Sunday in September dawns no-one feeds me breakfast in bed, no-one buys me neckties or self-help books or DIY apparati. And I never did any of these for my own father. (Well, almost never: when I was five my elder brother spent five shillings on a large tea cup for Dad, which we presented as a joint Fathers Day gift. The cup showed a man seated on an easy chair and smoking his pipe. Dad didn’t smoke and never drank tea. He held tea to be addictive,correctly so. That, after all, is its beauty and its purpose.) 


Breakfast in bed could not have enhanced the love that existed between my father and me**, nor would it have reduced the pain my brother and my father experienced in their own shared loving. 





My own children accept my distance from Fathers Day (as from Mothers Day). They see it as just another eccentricity of their wilful father. Seven hundred telephone calls per annum from my children to that difficult father say all that needs to be said.


Numerous earnest homilies (‘Slow down, Dad’; ‘Don’t you think it’s time you workeda bit less?’ ‘Have a good run, Dad, and don’t come back dead’; ‘I don’t want you riding your bike at peak hour, Dad. If anything ever happened to you…’)



Well of course one day the anything will happen to me. And as far as fathers go, I’ll go happy, well fathered and well loved by those I’ve fathered.



Nowadays my children have their father on Brain Watch. About time. And one single day a year would not suffice for the purpose.



Note*: no apostrophe.

Note:** It took me 220 pages to sketch the love between my father and me, in ‘My Father’ Compass’ (Hybrid, 2007). A young man approached me after reading the book. He said, I always wanted to be a loving father and no-one ever showed me how. But when I read your book I knew.’


10 thoughts on “Fathers Day

  1. Dear Howard Thank you for your post today. Your words are always powerful. I am nervous to share my thoughts with you because of my lack of skills with punctuation and the murderous apostrophe.

    But I want you to know that I have been working daily on literary sketches and pencil sketches about tenderlings (your word) and my encounters with them. It had been a year this week and I have almost 250 items prepared. I have a website on Instagram @callmegrandi and I post several times a week. I am planning a little book for those who enjoy the presence of little humans. Also I will sell original sketches and prints as well or whatever direction my contacts lead me on. I am including some shots of my post today inspired by your like mindedness. As always I love and respect you Faye xx I will never forget the final visit you made to Coffee Darling with your grand babies to give us your love at a very difficult time. You have inherited the father/mother nurturing as well ha ha.

    Sent from my iPhone



    • Hello Faye

      I’d love to see your drawings, as I’ll love to read your words

      You are a rare one gifted in both media

      And you inherited the eye to see, the ear to hear, and the heart to know the feelings of your tenderlings

      Instagram and I are strangers but my grandrats will correct that

      Thank you for your ever-warm response

      Never be afraid of the apostrophe; just follow this rule: if in doubt leave it out

      That way you’ll never be found guilty of apostrophocide




      • Fathers Day and Mothers Day, with or without the apostrophe, are, lets face it, commercial ventures – not that there’s anything wrong with that. Manufacturers, distributors and retailers of goods and services as well as those they employ, are entitled to make a living too.


        • Yep

          Business is business

          And it does not define itself by the criteria that govern family life
          Sensitivity, sincerity, loyalty, affection, sacrifice – these are not st the core of commercial enterprise

          But they exit at the core of relation between a parent and a child

          Business is legitimate

          And so too it’s legitimate to point to opportunistic
          And emotionally exploitative conduct

          Business should not blush at such an observation

          In fact if it never exploited opportunity it would be s blushing failure

          I saw the recent movie about the only bloke who remembered the Beatles

          He’s lured by business, loses his soul, then turns his back on business and regains his soul

          The arch exploiter screams at him: Stop!Stop ! In the name of Money, stop!


          • Whilst all businesses do not define themselves “…. by the criteria that govern family life –
            sensitivity, sincerity, loyalty, affection, sacrifice … ” many do.
            Take for example the large number of businesses engaged in charitable works, the myriad of family businesses who more likely than not ascribe to these worthy goals, the businesses operated by individuals with lofty ideals such as these and so on.
            There are good and bad where ever we turn.
            Regards to Nettie et al.


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