10 June 2009


When my dad died 22 years ago, he left an envelope on top of the sideboard with the savings he put aside while he was off work sick, with instructions that some of this was to buy the pram for the baby I was expecting. He was a man who lived for the present. There was no pension, no other savings.

When I started to get little knots in the palm of my hand and wonky little fingers I realised that he had left me another legacy - Dupuytrens Contracture or "Vikings Disease". And it made me laugh and feel close to him.

On the walk back from the hospital at Whitechapel today to check out my hands- no need for surgery yet, keep doing the down dogs -I broke with habit and walked on the south side of the road. That's where I found this coade stone face. As a child, I was fascinated by the coade stone faces on the terraced houses on the walk to Whitchapel but I'd never come across this one because it was off our beat. What a jolly looking chap he is with his twinkly eyes.

I zigzagged my way home down streets I liked, and less familiar ones, and found lots of other stuff. To follow.


Liz said...

You are so good at this. I'm trying to stop walking about with eyes shut to see what I can spot.

I hadn't heard of Viking's Disease but now think my uncle may have had it. His little finger used to stick out at an angle till it got to the stage where he couldn't wash his face without poking himself in the eye.

kristina said...

G did a stone carving course several years ago and became quite fascinated by Coade stone and Mrs Coade!

So glad your hospital appointment went well.

K x

Anonymous said...

What legacies our dad's leave us. From mine I have a tendency to deafness and an inability to pass a Catholic church without going inside for a look. Oh and a love of Bing Crosby, Mario Lanza and Josef Locke. Didn't get his Arsenal fixation though! Mine died 26 years ago when I was in my late teens. I always say to my kids that if you are going to get a disease you want to get something that is curable (obviously) but interesting enough to get written up in the Lancet. Your Baron definitely qualifies on that score. I see from his Wikipedia entry (on the man not the disease) that he was held in particularly high esteem for some very personal services to Napoleon.

I always find walking along Whitechapel Road depressing. Its the fact that the buildings never get done up. What would be wonderful is for it to be restored beautifully but for the people who currently live there to get to stay there in newly enhanced surroundings. And of course I mourn the absence of Richard the fit young fruit and veg man who played a part in my teenage dreams!

Best wishes,


Anna said...

You have such a great eye for detail, it's always a pleasure to stop by and see what you have been noticing!

60 Going On 16 said...

Thank you for such a thought-provoking post.

My father was largely absent from my childhood and when he was around, he was moody, taciturn, bad tempered and gave his family very little attention. But even the most flawed of fathers leaves us with something. In his case it was blue eyes and a love of London, animals, drawing, photography, sunshine, Italy, travel and, thinking of Joan's comment, Arsenal.

When I was very young, he drove a lorry, delivering goods to London's docks, and the only really happy memories I have of him were the rare occasions when I was allowed to go too. I loved being perched up in the driver's cab as we set off from West London at dawn. This normally silent man would suddenly become a great tour guide, pointing out and describing all the important and historic sights of the city and - this being the immediate post-war years - the still-evident bomb damage.

He had a cabbie's knowledge of London streets - another legacy and one which has proved invaluable - and we always stopped for cheese rolls and mugs of steaming hot tea at the same cafe somewhere near Farringdon Road. Almost 60 years later, I can still taste those cheese rolls.

Weeping Sore said...

What a lovely brief reminiscence about your Dad. Too bad about the Vikings Disease, but it seems to me your attitude is to see the glass half full and take it as a reminder of your beloved father. Of course, I picture him as the face in your picture - looks like he was a fun guy.

colleen said...

Dear All
Thanks all for these thoughtful, funny and well observed comments. Strangely, D, my dad too was a lorry driver and took me into the docks with him. He didn't look like the jolly Coadstone Man, but he did have a twinkle in his eye, especially when he was singing a la Tony Bennett..