ALLAN Dodds is the author of Laughin’ on the ither side o’ ma face, an autobiographical account of Edinburgh written through a child’s eyes.
Here, he shares a memory of his father at the time of the Second World War.
“My first memory of him was when I was still very young. He wore a khaki battledress and sported a bristling Hitler-like toothbrush moustache that reeked of cigarette smoke. Whether or not this choice of facial ornamentation was a deliberate act of parody on his behalf I shall never know, but he retained it throughout his life.
“Almost as soon as he had settled himself in with Mother and myself – the former rather more than the latter – Father would be off again, his soldier’s boots clickety-clacking up Brandon Terrace as he headed for the Waverley Station, until the sound died away, to be replaced by Mother’s barely stifled weeping.
“When Father was demobbed in 1946, he arrived home unexpectedly one day as he had done many times when previously on leave. However, for some reason this time he showed no signs of leaving after the customary day or two, and I became increasingly concerned that my perfect relationship with Mother was being sabotaged.
“I distinctly recall, when Mother and Father were locked in an embrace, pushing my way between their legs, demanding to be included. One day, having had enough of this treatment, I asked Mother ‘When’s that man going to go away?’. Her reply was chilling: ‘He lives here now, he’s your Father’.
“At that moment I felt that my innocence had ended and that in my childhood had somehow come to a close after three only-too-brief years.”