Having studied philosophy and undergone the dismal perils of the bleak English literary canon at university, I have - with great magnitude - been invested with enough wisdom and arrogance to identify, with absolute conviction, the following revelation: life is inherently meaningless but the human psyche is fuelled by so much motivation and curiosity that we believe that if we left the world today we would miss all the opportunities for happiness that lie marbled in the sidewalks that border the dawn of tomorrow. This is something we have discussed at great length around the dinner table in those dreary winter evenings or glorious summer nights, those wonderful nights where the frosts gathered like teaming crowds at the windows or the streaks of pink creased the sky like rainbow paper, and there, in those nights, we would speak like politicians, like atheists, like heathens, like heretics, like father and daughter, about almost every topic that most concerns the human mind. Today I write to you simply to honour life and your state of existence.. It is imperative you do not forget that the greatest gift you have ever received -other than a superb profession as a seasoned drinker - is bound up in your experiences: this is your personal narrative. This may appear a bleak realisation, as constructing your personal narrative can seem to imply that you’ve nothing left to experience - but this is a silly concern. We both know that despite your gammy knee and tendency to lapse into the mythic beast of ‘ouchman’, it is your zest for people, conversation, interaction and laughter that secretly keeps you young. I say secretly as you don’t exactly look like Hugh Grant but that’s forgivable, you’re young and glorious at heart. A compliment! Our personal narratives are everchanging dear Papa and you have taught me something very wonderful; that the first draft of our personal narrative may not always go right. That our first draft is largely based on how we think others perceive us. Well I can assure you; you are almost universally adored, and I admire you greatly for it, though perhaps you are not so admired by the dog and perhaps ambivalently by Mama at times, but that aside, you have taught me to love my personal narrative by showing me that you can grow to like it, mould it, play with it, have fun with it. After all what is a life without laughter! So, as my gift to you for all that you have given me ( though for that I will always be indebted) I have written an introduction to your own personal narrative; the narrative of Brough Patrick Kavaner Gurney-Randall The Great.
Once upon a time in the maritime province of Finchley, there lived a boy who chased the butterflies with wandering eyes as blue as the brook that babbled in the background of his youth. Though in present time he will remind you that he was a shy boy with an almost poetic connection to nature, I can joyfully assure the reader that he grew into a charming man with excellent presence and a rather delectable humour that many, I’m sure, have envied over the years. With his quick wit that cracks like a whip across a dinner table, he is a rather wonderful host, and some would even go as far as saying that there is never a dull moment in his presence. His wife and daughter would at times deny this fact and put bluntly; his capacity to repeat and labour his often-intelligent thoughts, is, well, fundamentally shat on by the impatient but excellent women that surround him! Once an accomplished and well-acclaimed actor within the prolific realms of Woodside Park, he has never lost this capacity to perform, to stand up and deliver, to read the lines and narratives of the people that he meets with acute sensitivity. It is a skill, and one that many men lack: his sensitivity, his kindness, perceptiveness and his capacity to be entirely at ease with his framework of being. This self-comfort is not to imply that life has always been easy for him, as he has faced things that would undo many human beings and cause them to spiral and collapse into selfishness, cruelty and bitterness. He is not any of these things and it is rather beautiful that against such difficulties he has remained kind, measured and full of wisdom. Indeed, as he has taught his daughter; in moments of deep misfortune or misery one must know that the world is awfully brighter when you are walking along the street and looking up at the sky rather than down at the ground. Though, as in the present moment, if one cannot walk then life is rather dreary indeed, but perhaps his own words ought to echo in his head! This is only some of the story of this great man’s life and perhaps we might have left it at that if there were not such profit and pleasure in telling the rest, and although there is plenty of space on pages as to contain the abridged version of a man’s life, detail is always welcome. So, here are ten of my favourite memories with this epic man which within them contain a huge sprinkling of sickly compliment for good measure:
1: This is many memories put together: but every time we have sat at the table and spoken for four or five hours at a time I have genuinely sat there and thought: ‘goodness I’m lucky to have a dad like this’
2: When you fell down the stairs after getting hammered in Italy and then passed out in that chair turning a shade of deathly white which I’ve never seen a living man turn before. That was of course when I eventually noticed your limp little frame slumped over in the sunlight… after 20 minutes….
3: When you danced with me at a wedding and we took over the whole dance floor with everyone watching our double act. That is of course before you royally fucked it and basically broke your leg - only to get picked up by Manchester’s roughest prostitutes.
4: When I came back from that awful New Year’s Eve party and was a horrible mess of self and you really helped me get back on my feet again - though you always do help me do that.
5: When Rona reminded me of a time where I was the only child in Grimsdale School to know specifically what a portcullis was because I had said it was a large door and you had astutely corrected me, at the age of 6, so that I understood that it was not simply a large door but alas, a portcullis. Forever teaching me the bare necessities…
6: When we used to sit in the tree-hut and watch the bats at night in warm summer evenings with a glass of wine or a beer. That’s really rather special. We do it still - we have and will do it for years.
7: That epic fucking lunch at 67 Pal-Mal, which is to date one of the best lunches we’ve ever had together and one that makes me laugh to this day. What an amazing thing it is that we can laugh together so much.
8: Every time you did something for Gran, I really did think to myself - what a genuinely gorgeous son in law. Let’s particularly think of the time where she had gout in that villa where the pool was 4000km from the villa and you carted her around EVERY SINGLE TIME she went to and from the pool to the house. Sometimes taken for granted, as many son-in-laws treat their mother in laws with very little respect or love. I think it was a great testament to your character
9: Every time we have argued, and I’ve realised halfway through that you were entirely correct and just been too stubborn to say so. This just amuses me because we’d have a shambolic shouting match over something to do with women’s rights, the burka or God’s existence then hug each other goodnight.
10: When I made that speech at Gran’s funeral and I looked at you and you just looked at me in such a way that installed all the confidence of the world in me. I don’t think any man will ever match that for me and they’d have to be truly the best to be anything like you. No oedipal complex intended…
I hope this gave you a means of reflecting on your own experiences, your great life and the people that truly adore you. I hope you had a wonderful evening out and that your knee is not too painful!
I love you ever so much,