What I inherited from my father

I was recently involved in a TV commercial for Huntington’s Disease. Before we started the director was talking to me about the disease, and as it is something inherited we got talking about what I had inherited from my parents. I am often asked where and how my love of cooking came from and have always attributed this to my mother, who was a very creative and excellent cook. She was also artistic and I inherited both of these creative passions from her. I was then asked to talk about the things I inherited from my father, and now with Father’s Day fast approaching I’m thinking of what I got from my dad.

My father was a businessman. He was the oldest of 10 with four immediate siblings and five step brothers and sisters. He lost his mother when he was only nine and his father re-married.

As the oldest son he inherited the flourishing family business and ran it even more successfully until his death. He was well known for his integrity and honesty. People often came to him for advice or to have him arbitrate in disputes not just within his extended family but also amongst friends and business circles. His evenings were often spent talking with people, giving advice and support, but he still found time to help we children with our homework. My father was a great reader and writer. He was very proud of winning the school English prize and this love of reading, writing and literature was something we all inherited.

He was very good with maths which eluded me and he would very patiently take me through algebra assignments which I hated, always left until they were due and then panicked about not completing them. I remember at the end of one school holiday telling him that I wasn’t going to school as I wasn’t feeling well. He knew there was more to it and found out that I hadn’t completed a maths assignment. He made me do it with him and I was sent to school late, but with a completed assignment.

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I’ve also inherited his sense of adventure and love of travel. He would love to take us to new places every holiday and often took us to game sanctuaries. This started his love for photography which again I took on. I was really thrilled when he gave me his Rolleiflex camera when I went to the UK for my design studies. I sold this camera years later to a collector for what then seemed like a fortune! My father was very sociable, loved entertaining and was a popular host. He taught us to be hospitable. He loved his pre-dinner whisky and soda, and wine when entertaining. Again something that I love and follow! My parents’ dinner parties were legendary. What with my mother’s love of cooking and my father’s love of hospitality the conversation and wine flowed. On very special occasions with special friends or overseas visitors we children were allowed to mingle with the guests at pre-dinner drinks and sometime allowed back in when they were having coffee and we would serve the liqueurs and chocolates.

My parents were a great couple and complemented each other really well. I can’t remember them arguing about anything or having any disagreement other than the occasional reproachful look from my mother if she felt he didn’t really need another postprandial cognac! My father was very encouraging and recognised that we children had to find our own way and futures. He went against the grain and encouraged me to do design at a time when design was relatively unknown and definitely not an approved profession for a boy brought up in an Asian culture.

My father was a gentle man, he never swore or was loud or boisterous. He loved cricket and rugby although he never played either but he did play tennis. I hated cricket, played tennis and much later went in for squash, long distance running and sailing.

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My parents passed away within six months of each other just when I was starting my professional life. They would have appreciated what I did, and what I have done with what I inherited from them.

And I appreciate what I got from them – particularly my often overlooked father.


What was/is your father like? What did you inherit from him?

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