Of the various odd jobs that Dad did over the course of his life, the one written on my birth certificate is “Forester”. Our parents were, at the time, running Scotland’s first youth hostel in the borders – Broadmeadows Youth Hostel - having left the city to follow a rural-driven dream. Dad promptly left his job, apparently, which he wasn’t fond of, as he wanted to write; Mum was the one employed by the hostel. Times got a bit tough, financial anxieties grew, so tree felling it was, for a while.I don’t know long Dad was employed by the forestry commission, but I do know from Mum, that he worked on the dark green conifer-covered hillside across the valley from the hostel. As mum was imminently due to give birth (with me), and there was no telephone or other means of communication, they had an arrangement that Mum would hang out a bright red towel they had, from the hostel window, if labour started (!)
In the event, my birthing process began while he was to hand, and with speed and lack of technological means, there was insufficient time to arrange for midwifery as the pressing event unfolded. So, ably delivered by my father, I started my journey into the world. The cord was wrapped around my neck and as my face became a little bluer than looked natural, Dad noticed and deftly, with a lassoo motion, untangled the umbilical cord.
And so I survived, with red, green and blue each playing their part!
Today, fifty two years later, in the wake of Dad’s passing in December 2011, I find myself recording with as much analytical patience as I can muster, in snatched early morning hours, or saved days of dedication, the colourful art work created by his hand to give birth to his body of work, which to date has been largely hidden from view.