Birthday Wishes and R.I.P…

And so another year passes and I am at a point where I catch myself thinking,

“This has been too long, I need to call and hear my father’s voice…”


“I need to visit and see his comforting smile and watch his eyes light up when he catches sight of me…”


But death for those who are left behind is final.

I satisfy my longings with photographs and written memories and occasional chats with his brother who sounds remarkably like him.

Of the many things we did together when I was young, listening to the BBC World Service stands out in my mind today as I celebrate his 92nd birthday and eighth year since he passed away.

He had a Grundig radio, bought in Germany where he and Mummy married and lived for fifteen years.


The top of ours opened up and records could be played on the turntable but it was the radio we listened to mostly.

I heard,

“This is London.”  A voice not unlike my father’s.

Then the Greenwich Time Signal, a series of six beeps, followed by an announcement,

“Thirteen hours Greenwich Mean Time.”

Then the newsreader with,

“BBC World Service. The news, read by….”.  It was always a man.  In the early days women were not considered suitable for such weighty content.

I listened to radio dramas while eating chocolate digestive biscuits with my tea.

On Sunday afternoons we’d hear,

“The time in Britain is twelve noon, in Germany it’s one o’clock, but home and away it’s time for “Two-Way Family Favorites.”

This was a record request programme designed to link families at home in the UK with British forces posted overseas in West Germany and further afield.

It lasted for 90 minutes and was presented by Cliff Michelmore, Jean Metcalfe, Michael Aspel and others and was devoted exclusively to playing popular records of the time, not live studio renditions of the well loved songs.

Its audience was far larger than had been initially imagined.

Families sent messages to each other and requested songs to be played that brought back memories of when they were together and we would listen and sing along, spellbound, to favorites from,

Max Bygraves (Tulips from Amsterdam),

Tommy Steele (Little White Bull),

Danny Kaye (Wonderful Copenhagen) and

Rolf Harris (I’ve Lost my Mummy) to mention just a few!

This was before we had the money to buy our own record library…and of course before Spotify and Apple Music, which, my father would have loved.

Any song available at his fingertips…unimaginable in his day.

There was a moral tone linked to the programming of that time too, any mention of girlfriends or fiancees was taboo, no banter was allowed, and noisy jazz was forbidden on Sundays!

My how times have changed!

Daddy and I enjoyed tuning in to Alistair Cook’s Letter from America about all things American.  Little did I know that America would feature very brightly in my future.

When we moved back to London in the 1960’s he introduced me to BBC Radio 3, an unashamedly highbrow station broadcasting only in the evenings.

We would listen to classical music concerts and recitals and I would fall asleep to talks on scientific matters.  There would be poetry readings and plays and my present day love for audio books stemmed from that time.

Imagine my father’s delight when a favorite announcer of his, Margaret Howard from The World Service, moved in next door to us in London!

She became well known for her shows, Letterbox and Pick of the Week and we had her round for drinks regularly and popped next door to feed her Jack Russell when she had to work late!

After more than forty years I still pick up the phone to speak to her and cherish the memories she has of my father from the perspective of friend and neighbor.

You will always be in my heart Daddy.

As each year passes I find another piece of you deep inside me that has helped to form me into the wife and mother I am today.

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