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Thursday, 28 June 2018


As I research and write a memoir with my father's disappearance at its core, I have been looking at son/father relationships to try to ascertain what I might have missed. I was six when my father left, so there was no relationship between us to speak of but it has been interesting to me to find out about others. Here's a few notes.

Bill Clinton's father died before he was born and, subsequently, the former President had a very difficult relationship with his  stepfather.

The artist Francis Bacon thought his father was narrow-minded and unpleasant. He was distant from both parents but went on to be assessed as a genius.

Actor Woody Harrelson's father was a professional hit man who abandoned his family. Woody said his father was articulate and charming but struggled with loyalty and friendship.

Actor Patrick Stewart's father was described as an angry man who often took his anger out on his wife. Later Stewart discovered that his father suffered post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of wartime experiences, a possible explanation for his temperament.

Politician David Davis was the result of an affair between his mother and a married man. Davis, in later years, tracked down his father and they had a brief lunch conversation. It was the one and only time they met.

Broadcaster Gerry Kelly wrote in his memoir how his father, an alcoholic, walked out on the family and vanished, never to be heard from again. Now, that struck home! Gerry was 10 at the time.

Actor Michael Douglas has talked about some difficulties in his relationship with his father, when Kirk was preoccupied with building a Hollywood career. In those early days, Kirk was described as intense, consumed by clawing out and making something of himself. The relationship improved and they are now very close.

Actor Alan Cumming, in his compelling and harrowing memoir Not My Father's Son, talks about his father's anger and rage, and the physical and emotional abuse he suffered as a young boy. Amazingly, with all the horrible stuff that happened, Cumming, in the book's acknowledgements, forgives his father.

Actor Hugh Jackman has described his father, Chris, as his rock from whom he learned everything about loyalty and dependability.

Actor John Wayne called his father, Clyde' a fine man to whom he owed a great deal and hoped he could live up to his example.

Formula One champion, Jenson Button, said he couldn't have achieved his success without his father as his friend and inspiration.

Boxer Barry McGuigan remembered his Dad, Pat, as just the loveliest guy, witty, cultured, intelligent.

There are other examples in my notes but I thought it was useful to write a chapter using a wider lens regarding sons and fathers.

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