He was born in 1913. He lived for 98 years. He dreamed of mountains and ‘castles in the sky’ – and worked all his life at a job he hated, to pay for two holidays a year in the places he loved. He was a supremely talented man, but without the confidence to benefit from his talents. And he was the best father anyone could hope for.
He was my father – Leonard Ernest Scott – and for all his frailties and faults (many of which I share) I loved him dearly. All my life.
His own story is well documented, and in his own words. His childhood, youth, and early manhood are chronicled in his book The Three Piece Suit, which ends with his first meeting with my mother – at a mountain refuge hut in the Dolomites in 1935. She was (unhappily) married at the time, but on a postcard to his parents he wrote ‘I’ve just met the girl I’m going to marry.’ Which, of course, he did – a story not, as you can imagine, without incident. That – and the 64 years of their marriage – are described in a massive four-volume magnum opus called A Danish Wife. (I’m serialising that in a closed Facebook page called Len Scott and his writings – along with much of his other work, all unpublished. If you follow the link you can ask for an invitation to join the group.)
But my concern here is with my own ‘life with father’.
He met me for the first time on the day of my birth, December 4, 1952 – having struggled through the worst of the Great Smog that killed thousands of newborns, young children, and vulnerable elderly people. I’d been born by emergency Caesarian section (to avoid a breech birth) and was, apparently, the only baby in the nursery who wasn’t crying. I was simply looking, wide-eyed, at this strange new world. ‘We call him “the Professor”,’ said the nurse as she handed my father the tiny bundle that was his son.
And in that moment, reluctant as he’d been to have a child at all, he took full and complete reponsibility for me. And never swerved from that decision till the day he died.
One short article could never be enough to do this wonderful man justice. So watch this space…