My father originally came from a working class family in the East End of London, and it is to his great credit that he successfully educated and engineered himself into the position of a successful and prosperous upper middle class professional, enabling him to provide both me and my brother with best in every aspect of life as children, for which we can never express enough gratitude. Generosity was always was one his strong qualities. It was unfortunate that his career never reached full fruition. Nevertheless, his determination and perseverance were exemplary, and he provided us all with an excellent role model in how to succeed and advance in life.
My father, of course, experienced the Second World War in its entirety, being a 17 year old when it begun. He spent a large part of it as a prisoner of war. In fact, the war played a significant role in forming his character, in that he was always very much the military man, with strict discipline and a strong sense of authority. Although some people found this hard to handle, it is always important to remember that he was the product of his times and embodied the values of his generation. Within this framework he always tried to do the right thing and had genuine moral integrity.
What not many people know about him was that he was also a first class musician. He played mostly jazz piano and knew the works of most of the top pianists of his generation (e.g. Oscar Petersen and Earl Hines) and had a flambuoyant side to his character too. Being a musician myself (guitar), I can recognise just how good he was. I only wish I had had the opportunity to play more together with him when he was alive. It was unfortunate that in his later years he became partially blind, which affected not only his music, but also his ability to read. In fact, he was always not only an avid reader but also an excellent linguist, able to speak both French and Spanish fluently. Finally, he was a very strong chess player in his time, attaining Category 2 status while in Argentina. He always beat me!
In addition, he travelled extensively for someone belonging to the pre-jetset age, and he always took a genuine interest in my own travel experiences, particularly in the Far East. Apart from living in South America (Peru and Argentina) for several years in the early 1950s, he also visited France, Belgium and the USA. It's a pity he himself never made it to Asia, as I'm sure he would have been fascinated by the people and culture there.
Although not seriously religious, he knew a lot about Eastern philosophies and religions, particularly Buddhism and Yoga, and I had several stimulating conversations with him. Raja Yoga was the branch that inspired him most, and I sincerely hope his proficiency in that and any residual influence of Christianity will help him now in the after life state and take him to a higher plane.
He will be sadly missed, not only by me but also by my mother for whom he was a constant stalwart. They were married for over 60 years.