I don’t know how it is for you, but for me a soon as I left the town I grew up in I never wanted to return. When I was asked to write what was originally called ‘The Father Story’ it soon became clear that it would involve going back. As I had no idea of what I wanted to write about my father, whether it would be biographic or fiction I really didn’t know. I thought going to the town might give me a sense of purpose and perhaps let me see some strands that I could begin working with.
I arranged my schedule to go over for a day and just look around all the houses and streets where we used to live, I thought that one trip would probably be enough. In the run up to my visit, I started looking at the only photos of my dad that I had, which are in my parents wedding album. Mother had thrown the album out after she had divorced my dad by a network of remote lawyers many years ago, as she was here in the UK and my father was overseas. I rescued the album from the rubbish,Â I wanted to hang on to these younger images of them both. As I looked again at the album I was reminded of a photo of my dad taken on a picnic where Mum had chopped Dad’s head off by not being able to frame the shot well. Mum keeps all her photos in a scrunched up carrier bag in her china cabinet. My dad has always been headless, and somehow almost faceless to me, without the wedding album I really wouldn’t have much of a picture of him. The other important thing about the album was the guests, there were so few of them, but there is a picture of my dad and his best man Peter Aspinall. I scanned the picture and pasted it into my notebook so I could reflect on it whenever I needed to. I thought about their friendship, though I knew nothing about it, and it was then I knew what the story was. It was going to simply be the story of these two friends, of my dad going to work and asking Peter to be his best man. My father must have asked Peter to be his best man at some point. The scenario that then followed is fiction but it is also true. The other possible fiction which arose was my dad and mum’s love for each other, or rather his love for her.