Sunday, June 16, 2013

fathers' day

Fathers' Day - or is it Father's Day - is that rare thing - a secular commemoration shared by the US and Britain alike (or, that rare thing, a commercial opportunity shared by them both.  What does Dad want this year?  A cold beer!  A steak!  A hug!  You give the last of these - we'll provide the other two!  Etc.).  Here's my father, long before I knew him - I guess he would have been about twenty one, and in his uniform as a member of the Fleet Air Arm.  I think this would have been his mother's copy of the picture - I have it in its silver plated form, and I can't even remember how I came by it. 

Whereas Mother's Day is overlain with sentimentality - much of it genuine - Father's Day is a much more edgy thing, since opportunities for people to reflect on their relationships with their paternal unit seem to be far less commonplace in popular culture, and such reflections are, in any case, complex ones.  I'm not offering up my own version here - except in so far as every time I look at this picture, I think how young he looks, and how lucky I am that he survived WW2, and how much he stands for so many young men who didn't make it through then, and who don't make it through now.  Which is, of course, sentimentality of a kind, couched in a version of the counter-factual.  

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