Today’s Hero, John Arthur Stewart, turns sixty-five today.
The Socks in the Fire Gene
When I was little, one of my most treasured things to do was sit in my Nanna’s living room with a blanket over me, while her boisterous dogs Sally and Sam fought for my lap and she told me stories about my Dad.
Her favourite one that she must have told me a hundred times, was about how he came home from Gilmour School one day when he was about nine years old, sat down on the old crimson armchair next to the coal fire, took off his school socks and threw them into the flames as he was telling her about his day.
She looked at him with her fallen jaw and astonished eyes wondering why the hell on earth he’d thrown a perfectly good pair of socks amongst the piping hot coals…but he, on the other hand, had absolutely no idea what he’d done.
The Overgrown Kid Gene
He has a distinct ability to switch off his brain and dive head-first into his various facets.
When I was growing up he wouldn’t get home until seven or eight in the evenings and by this point, we’d eaten our turkey dinosaurs, alphabites and beans (classic 80’s kid nutrition), played out for a couple of hours and were sat at the dining table doing our homework. And even after a long day crunching numbers and commuting, he’d always make time to activate Dad mode; sitting down to help us with homework.
At weekends, serious suited John was packed up into his old school leather briefcase and his inner child would come out to play. My parents would take us on all sorts of adventures; we’d take our bicycles Delamere Forest, visit museums, go walking in parks, play crazy golf, take boat rides and go to fair grounds. They’d be wading in waters, swinging off monkey bars, making swings from rope, playing hide-o and climbing trees with us – and enjoying it just as much as we did.
The I Saw a Cat Gene
Another part of his character and probably the one he’s most known for outside of the office, is his complete and utter idiocy. It’s sometimes quite mind-boggling how somebody can spend a whole day consulting legal firms and banks on how to run their finance operations then come home, trip up the front door step and break a few ribs.
A few years ago, we were driving home from town when a fire engine and ambulance drove passed us in the opposite direction, headed down towards Calderstone’s Park a few roads away from our house. My Mum jokingly said oh I bet that’s your Dad.
She was joking, but It turned out it actually was my Dad….he’d crashed into the car in front because he was LOOKING AT A CAT.
The Grep Gene
And lastly, another quite extraordinary trait is his ability to merge together entire sentences to create his very own language that only my mother can decipher. A spoonerism is the correct term; it’s a verbal error in which the speaker accidentally transposes the initial sounds or letters of two or more words. I’m not sure if it should be considered a slip-up or actually a rare skill of linguistic coding.
Our family favourite was when we were out bike riding and my brother Greg’s bicycle managed to glide over the muddy rocks of Thurstaston with ease, but ours were skidding all over the place. When we paused for a break, my Dad turned to my Mum and said……….GREP.
He didn’t even have to correct himself, she knew exactly what he meant and nodded in agreement before they both burst out laughing.
Greg’s bike’s got more grip.
My Dad is a walking talking contradiction.
He has certificates for his three bachelor’s degrees hanging on his office wall, can quote any business book under the sun and does mental arithmetic before I could even pick up a calculator, but he struggles to walk through a doorway without hitting the side.
He has a mind like a razor, an innate desire to be the best he can possibly be and never stops teaching me new things. He’s the first person I call for advice when something bad happens at work, the first person I want to tell when something good happens, and he’s the one I whine to when I’ve got a flat tyre and don’t know what to do.
I can only aspire to have half the brain capacity that he does but as for the rest, I’ve inherited it all; the Socks In The Fire Gene, the Overgrown Kid Gene, the I Saw A Cat Gene and the Grep Gene. And while I may end up in hospital covered in blood just trying to open a can of kidney beans, say things that are so ridiculous people shake their heads and sometimes have the mental age of a five year old, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Happy 65th Birthday Dad