OK UK?: Sure, I've Got Daddy Issues...

I am my father's son...
I am my father's son...

For You, Dad...

I lost my dad just over a year ago. My father, the quintessential Englishman if ever there was one. A man who apologized to inanimate objects, wrote letters ‘to the man in charge’ (and got some unintentionally hilarious responses!) and, sadly, a man utterly defeated by change. He never grasped the metric system, computers, answering machines, or VCRs, and DVDs put him right over the edge.

Fred was a worrier. Semi-professional. If worrying ever became an Olympic event, this was the man to lead the team to gold. He pretty much worried about everything, and in the lulls between intense worrying, would worry about the fact that there seemed to be less to worry about. He worried about his health, (with good reason) but defeated the efforts of my Mum, a former nurse and all the medical professionals, with his pill policy. Simply put, if a pill did not have an immediate effect, like an aspirin for a headache, he was not going to take it.

Now, with conditions such as gout, high blood pressure and diabetes, this was a really, really, bad policy. He needn’t have worried though; none of these conditions got him. It was sudden, multi organ cancer. True, he worried about cancer, but more along the lines of, “we’re not getting a microwave, and that’s final.”

His battle with technology was legendary. He worked for an accounting firm, mostly doing tax returns for little old ladies. He was gentle, patient and much loved by his clients. Not so much, his employers. They wanted a tad more productivity, so they decided that my dad needed a computer.

My dad worried himself through several sleepless nights before attending a computer-training course involving long days in his company’s headquarters in London. He did everything that was asked of him; concluding that filling out the forms on the computer was exactly like filling them out on the paper forms, only you had to type, not write. Looking good…

Dad then returns to work. Computer up and running on his desk, he then continues with his work, billing the hours to his ladies. At the end of the month, his boss questions his hours, as his productivity has plummeted. Instead of eight or nine returns a day, he was doing one, maybe two. Boss is baffled. Dad is worried.

After a long discussion, the problem is uncovered. My dad was writing out everything he saw on the computer screen, in longhand, on pads of paper. Why? My dad responded, “You have to, because once the screen changes, you never know if you can get that page back, and I don’t want to lose anything.”

The computer was removed, and he was allowed to quietly drift into retirement.

I had a similar problem regarding an answering machine. I would try and call my parents every other weekend, and timing from the US to the UK was sometimes a challenge. My dad refused to call our house, as a machine (robot, in his words) would try and talk to him. The challenge was with me trying to leave a message for them. My dad refused to believe that the BT phone he already had in house offered such a service, so he agreed to purchase an answering machine. I sent him the money. It was never purchased. Dad’s rationale, “if it is really important, who ever calls, will call back when we’re in.”

True, but…

And, “I don’t want those sales people calling and leaving messages, that’ll just upset your mother.” So, no answering machine ever got installed.

Trying to install a VCR was an even more complicated challenge. Dad admired the TV set up at my sister’s house, so my unwitting brother-in-law bravely took up the challenge of installing one in my dad’s house. I believe it sat, unplugged, under the TV, for almost fifteen years. My dad’s problem was that he couldn’t figure out how the VCR would ‘know’ what he wanted to watch. ‘Programming,’ was something done by those, “chaps who work at the BBC, that’s what I pay my license fee for!”

“If I’m watching the news on BBC on the TV, how can something else be recorded?” was a question none of us seemed to be able to answer in anything approaching a satisfactory way, and we were, of course, stumped by the, “and they repeat everything ten times anyway.”

No one, ever, discussed satellite TV, or High Definition, in his presence.

My favorite story, as it shows the juxtapositions evident in my dad’s world, was his letter to Mars. (The candy company, not the planet.) My dad was watching ITV, and became incensed by the commercial for the “largest ever” Mars bar. “Bloody well isn’t,” he roared, and went off into his office to write a letter.

A few weeks later, he received a letter from the parent company. It very nicely explained, that this was the largest Mars bar they had ever produced, quoting the number of ounces in the product since inception. In the nicest language that some young office worker could muster, it continued, “It may be that your memories of the huge Mars bars you ate as a child are missing the fact that your hands would have been a great deal smaller.”

This statement, painfully accurate, did not mollify my father, but the enclosed coupons for two free bars certainly did…




Dear Hub Reader


If you enjoy this hub, please check out my book,

Homo Domesticus; A Life Interrupted By Housework,

A collection of my best writings woven into a narrative on a very strange year in my life.

Available directly from:

http://www.lulu.com/content/paperback-book/homo-domesticus/12217500

Chris


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Comments 8 comments

Jane Bovary profile image

Jane Bovary 6 years ago from The Fatal Shore

Lol..that is just gorgeous Chris. I'm sure your father was not alone and I actually find it quite comforting to know there may be people around who still have feet firmly planted in the pre-techno-revolution world.

Love the Mars bar incident.


ChrisLincoln profile image

ChrisLincoln 6 years ago from Orange (or Lemon...) County, California Author

Jane,

Wow you were fast! Thanks for the positives. I loved my dad to bits, but he could also drive anyone totally nuts.

He only flew once to see me in America. He had to be heavily sedated as he noticed that the plane was made of metal, and no way can metal fly...

Chris


ltfawkes profile image

ltfawkes 6 years ago from NE Ohio

Well, he's absolutely correct about metal not flying. Especially metal objects as big as airplanes. No way those things could ever lift off the ground. Preposterous.

Very nice and tender hub. Thanks.

L.T.


ChrisLincoln profile image

ChrisLincoln 6 years ago from Orange (or Lemon...) County, California Author

ltfawkes,

Thanks for the response. Of course writing hubs is a great way to procrastinate and not do other writing!

Chris


Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 6 years ago from TEXAS

My friends, Val and Norm, are so technologically challenged that I was amazed that they did get U-Verse for their TV programming, if only as a result of all analog sets being rendered obsolete when all programming became mandatorily digitalized. They still fume because they can't find a record turntable for their 33-1/3 rpm vinlyl records or a tape player for the little stash of music tapes they have. They've never considered a CD player or CDs, and have no DVDs. If their U-Verse system included DVD recording, which I'd assume they all do, they don't use it. I consider it a blessing that they have NO interest in the internet, because poor old Norm, especially, would be sucker for any offer made. She has to monitor and redirect snail mail and telephone solicitations or he'll be investing in coal mines in China or funding someone's business in Peru. He has no sense of - well - common sense and as he's aged, he has even less, though at least his hearing loss keeps him from agreeing to much - or - does it? He may agree because he didn't hear!

Your Dad sounds loveable in a polite curmudgeon sort of way. I'll bet he was delightfully frank, honest and big-hearted. Sounds delightful to hug, if he could manage to not worry about germs, bad manners or some such. He sounds just plain huggable anyway.

My dad never would fly, either. He referred to those who piloted planes as aviators. Well - it's a correct term and was when he first heard of human flight. He was born in 1890, so what would one expect? Part of his reticence about flying related to his early Mennonite upbringing, though. He never would buy a car of color but black - well - once he got a good deal on a pale green Ford (the ONLY brand he'd consider) But that was the first and last "bright" colored car he ever bought. Motorized vehicles were a big step for him to take, as it was.


ChrisLincoln profile image

ChrisLincoln 6 years ago from Orange (or Lemon...) County, California Author

Ellieanna,

When my dad was over here, on his one and only visit, he was a total hit with 'ladies of a certain age'.

He left my mother in Costco looking for pillows (that was what they decided to buy to memorialise their vist!) while he tried all the free samples (which he declared "bloody brilliant!") even persuading a lady touting fruit juices to open a bottle of gin as he thought, "the juice is fine, it just needs a certain something!"

He turned it into a party, while several rows away my mother is fuming as no one can tell her what size "king" is!

A day to remember. And yes his English reserve melted under the assault of freely offered hugs!

Chris


Summer Fish 6 years ago

Sounds like someone I wish I could have met.


ChrisLincoln profile image

ChrisLincoln 6 years ago from Orange (or Lemon...) County, California Author

Thanks Summer,

Good to 'see you' on Hubpages

Chris

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