14th November, 2008

Eulogy

A couple of months have passed now since my Dad passed away, and (as I was warned by friends) the impact of this is having a greater effect as time moves on.

I’ve moved past the initial business-like, pragmatic and stoic few weeks, and am now entering a gradual heightening of anger, upset and confusion that eluded me at the time. This will eventually lead to a more manageable, easier period I hope.

Dad with kids

So, I wanted to archive my eulogy from the funeral. That a large number of people showed their support on that day made me very proud, and for those of you that wanted to read the eulogy in your own time or couldn’t be there on the day, well, here it is…

David Stanley Collison, 1942–2008

My Dad wasn’t perfect, and that’s why I loved him so much. On his first day at Player’s school, some bigger lads put him in a dustbin upside down. He soon got over it. Later, he stole another kid’s dovetail joint homework and presented it as his own. Much of the time he was playing truant, learning about life away from textbooks. None of this held him back.

He was the young, well-suited man-about-Nottingham that Albert Finney captured so magnificently in the film Saturday Night, Sunday Morning. “He’s playing me”, my Dad would say.

As I grew up, Dad was often by my side. Sat with me on the bus, or in the park, or by the river. Telling me about people, history, nature, and the world. He educated me, and never questioned my desire to find a creative career. He backed me all the way.

His was an almost autistic intelligence. He would convert bowling and batting averages into complex fractions, or recall exact dates and times of events that happened decades ago. Although he never learned to drive, he could direct you from Land’s End to John O’Groats without a road atlas. Despite this, he worked regular, unspectacular jobs, happy simply to provide for his family, until The Iron Lady struck him down in 1979.

I was always proud of him in the company of others. Whether he was teaching us kids to play football until it was too dark to see the ball or conversing in arenas unfamiliar to him such as college functions or art shows, he defied his diminishing confidence to always impress and amuse my friends, colleagues and girlfriends. Some people are just naturals amongst strangers, even when desperately nervous. This was my Dad. Put the obstacles to one side and just keep going.

We bonded over music, revisiting the Motown, Soul, and Rock ‘n Roll of his earlier days. Later, I’d find him playing The Prodigy, Pulp or Guns ‘n Roses; always the rebel, and never one to suffer anything insipid or safe.

My music tastes evolved, but the solid foundation remained. My Dad is therefore singularly responsible for The Beatles, The Stones, Small Faces, The Kinks… and every band I’ve ever loved since. These bands would not exist without him. Not to me.

Of all the things we inherit from our Dads, perhaps political and sporting allegiances are the most impassioned. For me, it was not only his voting preferences but more importantly his love for the Magpies. In 1980, my Dad took me to see my first proper football match. Notts County lost to Ipswich, 6-0. My second match, the following season, we saw Ipswich at home once again. Notts lost 4-1. Young and impressionable, I suggested I follow Forest instead. I think that was the week when he burst my space hopper.

Dad’s last few years saw his beloved Magpies fighting for league survival. The thing is, the continual disappointment of being a Notts fan teaches you about resilience, determination, and hope; virtues that my Dad drew on so heavily as he fought his illness.

Over the last few years, I marvelled at his bravery in the face of intolerable pain and discomfort. Always a proud man, it took immense effort it took to try and hide that pain from my Mam and I. I had to reveal how proud I was of him.

This is 1% of what I could tell you. Yep, my Dad was far from perfect. But still, he was one half of the best-looking couple in Nottingham who remained in love for 43 years. And to me personally, he really was the best, funniest and most generous Dad in the whole wide world.

I don’t think we yet know just how much we’re going to miss him in our lives.

Dad on the floor

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