Wizards, capitalism and other things I learnt from my dad

Rocking a beard before it was a hipster thing: me, dad and Tim, circa 1982

My dad’s out of town this Father’s Day, so he excused me from any of the obligatory get-togethers, requesting only good wishes and to tell him he “wasn’t a bad father”.

But I can do more than that. I can tell him he was an A-grade dad. Kind, compassionate, understanding and wise. Never the kind of father where your mum says ‘wait til dad gets home’. Nor the kind of dad who tells dad-jokes. His humour isn’t the bluff, blokey type: we’re more likely to swap photos of hilariously misspelled fruit shop signs.

I know that when you’re a kid, you think your dad knows everything. But my dad actually does. Ok, he has no idea about the Kardashians, but he has a working knowledge of topics as broad as vintage Volkswagens, 90s grunge bands, and the difference between the Corporations Act and the ASX Listing Rules (he helped me with an assignment on that last week).

Although, when I was about 18, I realised that he was somewhat fallible. I remember having a deeply philosophical discussion about Foucauldian theory (hey, I was doing Arts in the late 90s) and dad was nodding along sagely. At one point, the penny dropped, and I said ‘You have no idea what I’m talking about do you?’. Bluff = called.

But that’s not to say he hasn’t taught me many things. Here are some of my faves:

  1. Having a social conscience is cool. I remember the day dad brought home ‘Workers’ Playtime’, Billy Bragg’s 1989 album. Its cover says ‘Capitalism is killing music’, and while my 10 year old self loved the album, I had to ask what capitalism meant. And so began a long period of political awakening. Never one to preach, he has quietly supported my left wing leanings, and even stumped up the subscription fee for Green Left Weekly during my bolshy teens.
  2. The unexamined life is not worth living. As Socrates concluded, self-awareness makes us better people. My dad made mistakes in his life and was generally a flawed human being like the rest of us. But he always looked for ways to learn from it (this blog is one way of doing that). And he always made me feel like it was ok for me to fail too – which was useful when I was sorting through the rubble of my failed marriage.
  3. Never meddle in the affairs of wizards, for they are subtle and quick to anger. Well, what this really means is that I inherited a deep love of Tolkien and other fantasy/sci-fi from dad. He never held back difficult books from me just because I was young; in fact I read some weird shit like The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant when I was a teenager. But the love of imagination is a great gift to receive

This list could go on for a while, now that I’ve started it. But I only have 500 words, so the main thing is this: thanks dad. I love you.

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