From the speech given at Michael Taylor’s funeral on August 7th 2014
I need to tell you all about my fabulous Dad…
First important fact is this; Mum and Dad were married for 53 years and he adored her. No question about it. And the last time I saw him that love was still shining in his eyes.
Dad was brought up in a happy, traditional household with doting parents and relatives who instilled in him a love of normality and order, which later extended to our family life. He always loved having his parents close and devoted lots of time to them all through their lives.
He worked hard at school and progressed in his career with the Post Office as a telecommunication engineer. A two-year interruption to serve in the RAF on radar seemed no hardship and provided experiences for travel and sport albeit in the then volatile country of Cyprus!
His engineering background meant that Dad was precise about everything – almost to the point of obsession! We were in awe of Dad’s carpentry, engineering and building skills. A job was done perfectly or not at all. Unfortunately, in the case of fitting out our bedrooms, this nearly meant not at all!!! Buying a lamp unit with a built in shaving socket seemed over the top for a six year old but made more sense when it finally got installed nine years later!
We found out early how to motivate Dad. Want to go for a walk up a hill Dad? “No ta.” What about a mooch up Bleaklow to see the aircraft wreck? “I’ll get my coat son…!” Basically, if the carrot involved gadgets, technology or aeroplanes he’d go for it! Or cars – his interest stemming from his early pastime of rallying.
His technical side merged with a creative one in a lifelong interest in photography which even involved developing his own pictures in his
understairs darkroom. Ah well Mum, at least you knew where he was. And now, to Liz’s despair, she’s lost me to photography too – a chip off the old block! No darkroom though.
He absolutely loved dinghy sailing, which led to bigger boats and offshore trips to France and the Scottish Islands. We had lots of quality Dad time sailing although at the time we might not have fully appreciated it in the wet and the cold! And I think sailing and the associated camping might have tested Mum’s limits to the maximum.
After running an old AJS motorcycle in his youth he returned to Japanese motorbikes in his forties and took up voluntary work for the Auto Cycle Union to help others ride safely (including me and Ali!). Dad and I rode for many miles together including hammering around Europe although I didn’t share his enthusiasm for constantly cleaning his bike!
He started skiing after visiting me with Ali when I worked in France and somehow coerced Mum to try it too. There followed several holidays culminating in poor old Mum breaking her shoulder and going for a nice helicopter ride!
Dad’s disciplining of Ali and myself was fair, firm and occasionally painful! Messing around and fighting in the car, we got nearly all the way to Dukinfield Baths after an hours journey only for him to turn round in sight of them without a word and drive home. We didn’t pull THAT stunt again! The ‘wait till your father gets home’ speech had real effect, as we knew that meant BIG trouble and should be avoided!
Yet he and Mum gave us massive latitude in the beautiful area we lived in to develop our sense of adventure too. They’d grown up in wartime and were
determined that we wouldn’t suffer the same hardships.
Dad was phenomenally supportive of Ali and myself as we went our separate ways in sport and was especially proud of Ali’s athletic achievements, which he sowed the seeds for by taking us running as kids and impressing us with his prowess at long distance swimming. He never questioned the fairly random directions (and boy, were they random at first!) that we took career-wise either (or Ali’s green hair) and like Mum, was only concerned for our happiness.
Dad took a thoughtful but discreet interest in all that we did, inconspicuously supporting us with donated furniture for our first houses and gifting us money if we were in a tight spot. He knew not to give us a golden spoon to spoil our inherited work ethic – just a catch net if we fell hard.
Dad had a genuine desire through his life to help people. I voted for him as a Councillor because I knew he was sincere and would assist anybody in need. His politics were not my politics and although I grew up with them, he never pushed them at home and had respect for other people’s beliefs.
The loving bond he had with his kids was never broken despite a difficult period he endured where both Ali and me turned into stroppy teenagers. His dignified conduct was a major influence on us and taught us the lesson of thought before action and the impact of those actions on others. He was a great friend to both of us and a solid shoulder to lean on when things got tough.
He had a clever sense of humour and was witty and fond of jokes – particularly enjoying the sound of certain words. And he generally took it in good part when we ganged up and laughed at funny mannerisms of his.
He could be mischievous too. He’d often get in late from the pub or a council meeting with an illicit takeaway meal, which he always shared with me with a wink and the words, “don’t tell your mother!”
Dad gave us a real head start with the holidays we had. From early adults both Ali and I have been confident travelling and working abroad – a direct result of those fantastic family trips to so many amazing places.
After Mum and Dad retired, it was great to see them take to even more exotic holidaying and travelling. In fact Dad rang me up once and said in a mock grave voice that he’d spent my inheritance on a trip to China!
To sum up, Dad had time for everyone irrespective of colour or creed. He was a private and quiet man who could occasionally be overawed by more extrovert company. But those who knew him well all saw the generosity of spirit that made him such a faithful public servant and an amazing family man.
They may also have seen the sensitivity that existed in his gentle constitution and which meant that some days and situations were hard to face and needed courage to handle.
We love and miss our Dad – rest easy mate…