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KW Senior 

By Kirsty Walker

 

My dad is stood on the doorstep in the rain with a dazed look on his face and a sprig of privet hedge in his hand. He looks up, with his usual visage of incredulity and gives the feed line to what I know will be a night full of coffee drinking and gasping for air as the laughter stitch leaves us both bent double and crying ; “You’ll never guess what just happened to me!”

 

My dad’s blond with blue eyes, and I am not. Because of this, throughout my life I’ve been told that I’m ‘exactly’ like my mother. I am not. If you have to draw parallels between parents and their offspring you have use a better starting point than their colouring because it’s the personality traits that really hit people. Anyone who really knows me knows that I am virtually the same person as my dad. This is immediately evident to anyone who sees us drinking together. I’m basically him in a dress, which is a chilling visual to say the least.

 

When I was born, my dad was 19 years old. I’ve got a picture of him with shoulder length hair and a cheesecloth shirt which was taken when I was about two months old and he looks barely out of nappies himself. He was at art college studying photography, a job he does to this day. I think a lot of the foibles I picked up from him were a symptom of his youth; the obsession that he had for The Beatles and Paul McCartney fed my obsession for Suede (my Dad used to have a guilty stash of magazines that I used to think were porn but were actually issues of Record Collector) and the reason that I have always found it so easy to embark on hare-brained schemes definitely comes from his attitude of “What’s the worst that could happen?”.

 

Dad’s schemes ranged from the sublime to the ridiculous. He’s good with this hands (something I haven’t inherited in the slightest) and once made my grandparents a wardrobe. He then decided that this would be a first rate business venture, though that one wardrobe was all he ever produced. For a whole summer in about 1993 he helped his friend set up a crazy golf course next to Pickmere Lake, which was functional but lacked aesthetic value, in fact it looked like something from Disneyland Chechnya. It was made completely of unfinished concrete and you risked serious injury in trying to retrieve wayward balls because of the bits of broken glass and nails that were lurking inside every hole.

 

He was also adept at spotting new technologies that would become quickly obsolete. He bought a toploading Betamax video recorder in 1982 and quickly amassed a collection of taped off the telly programmes which he carefully labelled and filed. He used to spend hours sat in front of that machine fast forwarding to accurately document what was on the tape and for how long. To this day he insists that Betmax was the higher quality format, and I have to agree with him. He had a carphone in 1988 which my friends thought was the height of sophistication, even thought it was only used about three times because the calls were 50p a minute. In 1992, four years before the first DVD players came onto the market, he had a Kodak PhotoCD player, which was possibly the most useless piece of equipment ever invented. Only professional photographers have ever heard of them for they were designed to play back photographs from files that had been digitised, and only professional photographers wanted to do that. It was never popular and was quickly replaced by a technology we now know as the ‘computer’.

 

Our computer was an Acorn Electron, which my dad played on for hours. His favourite game was called Sphinx Adventure which consisted of a small, badly rendered elf character trying to reach a sphinx. A typical moment of game play is as follows:

 

YOU ARE IN THE ICE CAVES

 

>GO LEFT

 

YOU ARE IN THE ICE CAVES

 

>GO RIGHT

 

YOU ARE IN THE ICE CAVES

 

>GO FORWARD

 

YOU ARE IN THE ICE CAVES

 

>GO BACK

 

YOU ARE IN THE ICE CAVES

 

YOU HAVE BEEN SLAIN BY A WIZARD

 

GAME OVER

 

It took him nearly four years to complete, and was rewarded by a screen saying ‘THE END’. He also enjoyed ‘Tree Of Knowledge’, a quiz game where you had to actually input all the quiz data yourself. You could spend hours building a database on Neighbours characters or Manchester City Players 1964 – 1984, only for the game to formulate questions based on this data, which you obviously already knew the answer to.

 

It would take me a long time to run through all of the things that make my dad my dad. I attempted it when I was best man at his wedding to my stepmum, but the speech ended up being a testimonial to the man and I binned it, thinking that stories about the notes he used to leave in my lunchbox featuring poems about the headmistress’s underwear, or the time he took payment for some photography work in the form of a rabbit would say more about my relationship with him than his with his new wife.

 

I’ll leave you with the conclusion of the opening paragraph – so there’s my dad, privet hedge in hand and relates to me the following tale;

 

“I was dropping off some photos at a woman’s house, and came back to find the car was gone. Now, my first thought was ‘The car’s been nicked’, so I went to go back inside and call the police. Just then I saw the car at the bottom of the hill parked in someone’s drive, so I went down there to see what they were playing at. The next thing, this old fella comes out ranting and raving at me, saying that my car’s ruined his hedge. Turns out I must have left that handbrake off and the car’s rolled right down the hill into the guy’s drive and only been stopped by his privet hedge. Before I know it, he’s blocked me in with his car and is getting me to sign a written confession that I have damaged his ‘valuable’ hedge. He wouldn’t let me go until I’d signed it and taken some pictures.”

 

“So why did you bring some of the hedge with you?”

 

“This? This is my evidence.”

 

And so goes another normal night in the life of Keith Walker.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

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