The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

Happy Birthday Dad …
September 17, 2013, 6:10 am
Filed under: Comment

Today would have been my Dad’s 75th birthday.

Seventy Five.

That means he’s been gone for 15 years … which seems amazing given I am just coming to terms with him passing.

As I’ve written before, for the first 10 years, I was entirely in denial … something that genuinely fucked me up and that’s why I passionately believe we should talk about death much more openly.

And then – at least in my mind – he came to visit me, putting my mind at rest for all the guilt, suffering, sadness and pain I was feeling and that led to me wanting to only focus on the good memories, not the bad.

One of these good memories happened every Saturday – around 1pm – from 1982 to around 1985.

Lunch time.

I’d be at home, watching World of Sport with Dickie Davies.

To be honest, apart from Nottingham Forest, I never really gave a damn about sport, but around 1pm something magical would happen on the screen – it would be ITV Wrestling.

Now for the people out there who aren’t from the UK or are too young to remember the 80’s, the wrestling I encountered was about as far from the uber-slick stuff you get in the WWF today.

Oh god …

Sure, there were characters like Big Daddy and Giant Haystacks [who are in the photo above] but this was a cheap and nasty affair – followed more by pensioners than testosterone men living out their delusional fantasies.

It was entertainment pure and simple.

In some respects, despite having none of the glitz and glamour you see from the American version of the ‘sport’, it was better.

It certainly was more raw and down to earth.

But that’s not what I want talk about, the fact I was watching the wrestling only serves as a backdrop to the real memory that is etched in my mind.

You see at around 1:10pm, I’d smell something from the kitchen.

The fact I would smell the same thing every Saturday at around 1:10pm didn’t make it any less thrilling.

You see my Mum and Dad would be in the kitchen grilling burgers.

Oh my god, the smell was fantastic.

They wouldn’t be fancy burgers, they’d either be Birds Eye 1/4 pounders or – when we were a bit broke – Asda’s own brand, but it didn’t matter, because they’d be great.

Part of the reason I loved them was that it was a chilled out family moment.

Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t come from a formal family, but having a ritual where we would eat with our hands – something we would never normally do, especially if we had guests – meant it just felt a more informal, yet intimate, family moment.

That said, my Dad wouldn’t totally embrace the more laid back nature of Saturday burgers.

Eating food with your hands was one thing, but he certainly wasn’t going to endorse having poncy burgers, filled with pickles and lettuce and tomato … oh no, there were standards that needed to be maintained.

We lived in Nottingham after all!

The buns had to be toasted.

And they were not allowed to have sesame seeds on them.

The onions had to be sliced, not chopped and must be – much to my dismay – cooked, never raw.

There could only ever be one piece of cheddar cheese on them.

Only Heinz tomato ketchup was allowed to be added.

The plates had to be warmed.

I still remember the horror on my Dad’s face when I asked for an uncooked bun with raw onion. Christ, it was like I’d just admitted to a heroin habit … which he responded with a loving – but firm – “no”.

But that didn’t matter because regardless of only being able to have burgers as my Dad wanted, the smell as they were being cooked always made me feel good.

It meant everything was OK.

It was a Saturday.

The family was together.

Of course, it all really came together when I was told they were ready to eat.

Either my Mum would call me or my Dad would knock on the glass between the lounge and the kitchen and that would be the signal.

The moment I’d hear either of those calls, I’d rush out … pulling hard on the door handle that always stuck so I could get there as quickly as possible.

I would run into the kitchen, grab the burger and then rush back into the lounge to watch the wrestling, only to invariably be called back by my Dad to close the lounge door “to keep the heat in”.

I’d rush back to the television, desperate to sink my teeth into my Saturday treat, and end up taking such a big bite that half the cheese, onion and tomato ketchup would ooze out of the bun and land either on the plate or my t-shirt.

Seriously, if you were to see my clothes from that time, I swear to god all of them would have a faded food stain around the top of the shirt.

Anyway, within a few minutes, my Mum and Dad would join me and the conversation would go something like this:

“Mmmmmm Mmmmm” [Me]

“These burgers are really good” [Mum]

“Look at those fools, why don’t they put their handbags down and get on with the wrestling” [Dad]

It was a truly special and magical time except I didn’t realise how truly special and magical it was until recently.

After 1985, it all changed.

Not because anything happened at home, but because Mum and Dad felt I was old enough to go into Nottingham city centre with Paul where we would invariably eat Saturday lunch either at a chip shop or the hot potato stall … and while I loved that time too, I’d kill to have another burger made by Dad on a Saturday.

At the end of the day, it’s the little things that define the most important moments in our lives and I’m sure if he was around today, he’d be very happy to know that our Saturday lunchtime ritual made such an impression on me.

Happy birthday my dear Dad, I love you and miss you.


33 Comments so far
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underneath it all campbell, youre a good fucking man and your old man would be very fucking proud of you. this post also explains why you like osama zombie flicks.

Comment by andy@cynic

it also explains why you love burgers. and there i was thinking it was just because of the grease.

Comment by andy@cynic

Also shows the way he eats burgers has been the same for 40 years.

Comment by DH

Much like his taste in music and clothes.

Comment by John

You are definitely your fathers son Robert. This is a very touching post, I hope today goes OK for you and your mother.

Comment by Lee Hill

I’ve never met your parents but I hope we are raising our children to love us so much and so openly. It’s beautiful to see and a pleasure to read. Big hugs to you and your Mum today from all of us.

Comment by Mary Bryant

Your version of wrestling sounds crap.

Comment by Billy Whizz

Happy birthday to Rob’s dad. He’ll be happy to know his son has similar levels of detail pettiness but over a wider range of subjects than just burger consumption.

Comment by Billy Whizz

a.d.d. with a slice of pedantic bastard.

Comment by andy@cynic

Nice work Rob. Take care of yourself today.

Comment by DH

This might not be the time to say it, but I have always respected how open you are with your thoughts and feelings. Most people try to keep them in but you happily let them out.

It can be quite confronting for people who don’t know you but it is more than you being emotionally generous, I think it helps you balance yourself.

For people who don’t know you, they often see you as this mischievous, charming, clever, outspoken or “don’t suffer fools gladly” type of guy, and they’re all true, but underpinning it all is a person who is sensitive, compassionate and focused on doing the right thing and if anything should make your Dad proud, it’s that.

Lovely post Rob.

Comment by Pete

i knew you were in love with campbell. and hes only compassionate and caring blah, blah, blah if hes interested in you or by you. if he isnt, as you fucking well know pete, he can be a total evil shit and i have a feeling his old man would be proud of that fact too.

Comment by andy@cynic

Hugs and kisses.

Jemma x

Comment by Jemma King

Great and touching post Rob

Comment by Lewis Khan

He’d be very proud of you Rob. And he should be proud of himself because between him and his wife, he raised a great son.

Comment by George

As many people have said, your Dad would be very proud how you have turned out. If only you weren’t in advertising. Look after yourself and your mum.

Comment by Wayne Green

Raw onions? I am with Mr C on that issue..

Take care of yourself to day Rob.. Big hugs to your Mum..

Comment by niko

I’m not going to comment to everyones comments except to say thank you. You’re being very generous … not to him, he deserved all the compliments, but to me.

I know we all take the piss out of each other on here – and I would never want that to change [and he’d of found it very amusing] – but I appreciate that when it’s something that really matters, there’s a real feeling of care and support. At least that’s the impression you’re faking, ha.

I guess I’ll find out the truth tomorrow when you read a post that has the potential to make your blood boil. In a good way. For me, at least.

Thanks again. He’d love that he was the centre of attention, even with people that never met him.

Comment by Rob

if it involves you going on another freebie fucking holiday, you will.

Comment by andy@cynic

You’re going to looooove tomorrow’s post then. But not as much as Monday’s. Oh god, that’s going to blow your mind. But probably your blood pressure. Ha.

Comment by Rob

do you hear that campbell? its the sound of my sympathy flying off in to the fucking distance.

Comment by andy@cynic


Comment by DH

Everything is Paul’s fault.

Comment by Billy Whizz

Funnily enough, I was talking to someone about Paul recently and said just that … every bit of mischief and trouble I’ve got into in my life has had something to do with him. He’d probably deny that, but he’d be wrong. Ha.

Comment by Rob

This is a very sweet post. Hugs to your family.

Comment by Katerina

So proud of you. And yes we absolutely should talk about death…or anything in our lives that we grieve. Thank you for sharing, Robert. Mx

Comment by Reenie A

I love your precise description of the burgers. Taste and smell are such deep deposits of memory and emotion.

When I was a kid (back in the dark ages) I occasionally used to go into Birmingham with my Mum. We’d go to the open air market in the old Bullring (pre the first re-development, never mind the latest one) and she’d buy me a little bag of hot roast chestnuts from the man with the smoky cart.

Hadn’t seen them them for decades – hadn’t even thought about them – until I moved to Shanghai, and found street vendors selling them through the winter. The first taste brought back such a flood of memories I cried.

Fifty odd years. The diesel throb of a Midland Red bus, the smell of damp woolly jumpers. And the sweet aroma of roast chestnuts, that burned your fingers as you peeled them.

Taste and smell are the triggers. Just like your burger. And Proust’s madeleine …

Comment by Ian Gee

There are no words.
He would be so proud of you

Comment by northern

Hi Rob, I still remember when you lost your dear Dad and it only seems like yesterday! We lost Dad just a couple of weeks ago so the sadness and loss is raw. Dad’s birthday is coming up in a few weeks and he would have been 79. It’s going to be a sad day but hopefully we’ll be able to sit around and share some great memories, just like you have. Happy birthday to your Dad and lots of love to you. AM xx

Comment by Ann-Maree

My god, it’s the lovely Ann-Maree. It is so good to hear from you, seriously. I am so sorry to learn about your Dad – that is tragic news. I remember the conversations we had about him in Wagga – a true character.

Take care lovely and it would be so wonderful to see you again. My thoughts are with you.

Comment by Rob

I know I said thank you to everyone for the nice comments – but there’s some people on here who either have never commented or rarely comment and I want to say an extra special thanks to them because I know how much they would never want to hurt their cred.

I’d also like to say another ‘ta’ to the people who SMS’d or emailed. I know I haven’t met all of you and I know I have this stupid rule for what constitutes a friend, but for the record, it meant a huge amount to me and my Mum … especially as we just heard our neighbour for 42 years, Barbara, died yesterday so this anniversary is even more poignant.

Thank you again. You are all much better people than I deserve. But the least Mum and Dad deserve.

Comment by Rob

Your Dad would be so proud of you Rob. Lovely post.

Comment by fredrik sarnblad

[…] could hear my Dad shouting ‘it’s ready’ from the kitchen our Saturday Beefburger was ready for scoffing […]

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