I wrote a little poem for my darling Dad’s funeral and nearly got through it without crumbling into a soggy heap. For safety I printed out two sheets of A4 – one with “We apologise for the interruption”, followed by “Normal service will be resumed soon.” When I lost my composure, it gave me a couple of seconds to take deep diaphragm breaths and the packed chapel a moment to giggle at something that Dad would have found hilarious. What a sense of humour he had. Often inappropriate, constantly erupting and breaking any tension around him. Laughter has a wonderful way of restoring balance, doesn’t it? He would be deeply philosophical, sometimes probing the inner-most bleakness of the soul and would then round it off with a pun or a quote, but mostly a silly expression, creased up face and inner laughter that was infectious. There is one precious memory that I try to bring to the front of my thinking whenever a wave of grief threatens to de-rail any plan or mundane action. It works on every level – visual, sound and emotional. Dad and I sharing a joke (often something that only we would understand), both in fits of hysterics, tears streaming down our faces, knowing looks between us. Accompanied by the sound of high-pitched, agonised screeching laughter, followed by a weak plea of “please, no more …” Then the utter joy of being questioned about what was so funny, when we both knew that neither of us could remember and the look of understanding between us when we were eventually urged to calm down. Oh Dad, I’m going to miss that so much. Luckily my darling husband is an entertainer and we laugh together every day at something, And it’s the best times with my darling sister too when we’re both in “Dadsterics” about something that wouldn’t amuse anyone else. Joy.

When I was about 6 Dad started to teach me to play violin and the first tune I scraped out was “Twinkle, twinkle, little star”. You can hear it now can’t you? Loud rasping notes vibrating in protest from strings being assaulted by a heavy bow. I think I eventually got to Grade 3 violin, however I stopped when I couldn’t get the image of my Dad’s face in hysterics at some violin beginner’s concert. He couldn’t stand badly-played violin, him being a professional player and even though he would never have said it to me, I really did sound terrible and I knew deep down that I’d rather have Dad laughing at a common joke, than at my terrible fiddling. That memory inspired this poem.

Oh, and he also loved pork pies, even though he knew he shouldn’t really eat them. But he ate them anyway and made naughty faces behind the backs of anyone who told him otherwise.

This poem is called TWINKLE, TWINKLE, GIANT STAR

I’ve loved my dad for sixty years, Well, 59 if truth be told,

We laughed together, reduced to tears with the jokes and anecdotes he told.

He played with words and had great fun with silly names and risque rhyming.

He gave me the gift of the painful pun and the delicate art of …

timing.

C urious, clever and

H alf of me

A lways up for a cup of tea

R obust, riotous

L oving and kind

E ver amazing with his

S prightly mind.

Aged four I’d creep around our flat, not jumping or bumping or anything like that.

Because Dad would be playing his 78s. “Don’t scratch Yascha Heifetz!” or any of the greats..

He’d put on a record to tell a story – Noddy and Big Ears in all their glory,

And The Happy Prince was all the rage – “Sit back and listen, now turn the page.”

I remember him practicing the violin for hours as music was life’s soundtrack at Audley Towers.

“You sound like Pagannini” I laughed and teased. Although he was laughing, I knew he was pleased.

What joy when one day while at Radio 2, I booked him to play on a show – like you do.

My lovely Dad and the Fortuna Quartet, A moment of music I’ll never forget.

My father Charles, our Charlie, Dad. Although today I’m sensationally sad

You always taught me to look ahead and bouncing around are those words you said.

Open yourself up for the joy of success,

Don’t brace yourself for failure. 

Promise me? 

Yes.

Always upbeat and stressy seldom, this marvellous man, Charles Edward Beldom.

Keep twinkling, twinkling, giant star and I’ll keep looking up wondering which one you are.

Up above – keeping watch from the sky. In the perpetual search for the perfect pork pie.

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