Sunday, 30 July 2017

When my Dad came home

Dear Reader,

                                                                        Whisky bottles

Whisky has been distilled in Scotland for hundreds of years.  There is some evidence that the art of distilling could have been brought to this country by Christian missionary monks in early medieval times, but it has never been proved that Highland farmers did not themselves discover how to distil spirits from their surplus barley.  The earliest record of distilling in Scotland was in 1494, when an entry in the Exchequer Rolls stated: "Eight bolls of malt to Friar John Cor wherewith to make aqua vitae", which is Latin for "water of life".  This was enough malt to produce 1500 bottles of whisky and clearly indicates that distilling had already become a well-established practice in Scotland.

Whisky soon became an intrinsic part of Scottish life and was frequently used for medicinal purposes or as a reviver and stimulant during the long, cold, harsh Scottish winters, and it began to feature more in everyday social life in Scotland.  Until the advent of the patent still in 1831, all the whisky produced in Scotland was of the malt variety.  Now two kinds are made, malt and grain, and malt  is widely regarded as the superior.  Certainly "aqua vitae" was my father's favourite tipple - he drank a large glass (or two) every night.


When my dad came home

he nodded off
in the old armchair,
any time
forgot everything,
could name no names.

Tobacco smoke from woodbines
filled the house,
he drank malt whisky,
came home unsteadily from the pub.

He talked of cricket, he whistled
and hummed old country and western songs,
rocked in the rocking chair
and potted up red geraniums.

He ate junket and white fish
had headaches,
and he wept sometimes.

But we were good friends, my dad and I,
night times he told me stories,
and tucked me into bed.
I never asked him about the war,
and he never said.


With very best wishes, Patricia

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I used o be a great fan of a good Highland malt - purely for medicinal purposes of course - and always keep one in the cupboard for highdays and holidays. My own father never drank at all, but I find your poem incredibly moving. There is something universal about this father and the taking and giving of love that we can no longer take for granted.