My father is a great man.
He doesn't think so. Great men never do.
My father taught me what I consider to be the important things in life. Respect, honesty, integrity and most of all love. Love of life, of poetry, of nature, of beauty, of music (of which more later) and of family.
He toiled all of his working life to provide for us, my mother, my brother and I, but for all of his efforts I never once heard him complain about how hard he had had to work to put food on the table. Then when the weekend came he would work from morning till night to build a better home for us all. Carpentry, DIY, decorating - he once built me a beautiful chess table which I am proud to say I still have.
I owe my love of music almost entirely to him too. When I was 7 or 8 he would sit me down to listen to Mozart, Brahms or Beethoven, and he would be happy to spend as much time as it took to help me appreciate the sublime genius of the great masters works. I particularly remember one time when we sat and listened to Beethoven's 7th symphony together, while he patiently explained what terms like Scherzo, Adagio and Allegretto meant, and why they were important in the context of the symphonic form. Even as a 7 year old I could not help but be moved by his passion for the music he loved.
Many years later when I tried to return the favour and educate him in the finer points of Led Zeppelin, Ben Harper, Otis Redding, Bob Dylan and many others, to his great credit he managed to suppress his firm prejudices about popular music and return the compliment.
This is my small tribute to him.
Thanks Dad. You ARE a great man and I love you.