A memory of my father

I am so embarrassed about this memory that I do not want to tell you it. Therefore, it will be worthwhile telling you. Empowering or something.

I don’t know myself innately, I work things out from clues. I know I would not hit anyone, because I have been in particular situations. I am not sure I could say why- perhaps “Cowardice” (bad) or “Restraint” (good). Perhaps confusion: the rules aren’t working, and I don’t know what’s going on.

-Exactly so, she says, and I wonder whether she helps me find insight or influences, even manipulates, me into seeing things a certain way. Are our words random, or some kind of joint inspiration?

So much of me is unconscious. That memory of my father, I was sitting on his knee, crying- it is always there, and it pops into consciousness every once in a while, every now and then. I started telling her of it as an illustration of how the unconscious is always there, and the conscious seems random, not a particular “I” I could know; but she asks of the memory. It embarrasses me. The child I was was so ridiculously stupid!

It should not be embarrassing. The child knew no better, and might not be expected to, at that age. I remember a fragment of conversation. I wanted to listen to a record, and he asked what.

-Can you remember what it was?
-I am not sure, but I think it was that actress in Mary Poppins [Julie Andrews] singing
a spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down
in the most delightful way

and he said, but we don’t have that record.

And I took from this that I was stupid, and should have known this (which is why the memory embarrasses me. Wanting something impossible! Ridiculous and divorced from reality!)

and that he was kind.

Now, I think, well- impossible? There are shops, and there are libraries, quite close by. There is also the vague idea that Julie Andrews represented the left-liberal camp which was wrong, as we were Conservatives: that is adult language for it, that such entertainment would be Improper in some way, not our thing.

Is the memory important? I still feel confused. What can I do that is Good?


I was a big fan of CS Lewis, and have read a lot of his work, since I sat on my father’s knee to hear The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. My nephew sat on my knee to hear it. The foundation of my theodicy is his The Problem of Pain, and I read his space trilogy several times. I have been reading The Abolition of Man again, and find it appallingly bad. Either he has no conception of phenomenology, and attacks what he does not understand, or he has, and produces the crudest possible straw man, which he could not possibly see as in good faith unless he was convinced he could do no wrong.

He says any man, unless corrupted, would agree with him about morals, because the Natural Law is inscribed in every healthy boy. (He would not have valued inclusive language.) Education should enable the boy to recognise it in himself.

I read the book to see what in it I might agree with, but I reject it entire. I do not care if I am wrong, I believe THIS. All I could take from his morality is the value of the individual human- the value of Me.

I drift off into thinking of how I might be useful in the General Election.


I am frightened by
the bigness and inexplicability of the World

and of myself

but that’s OK

5 thoughts on “A memory of my father

  1. Oh, wonderful things to comment on. Starting from the top:
    – Hitting others
    I did get angry as a child (who didn’t?) but refused to fight. I was called a chicken (and worse). My father encouraged me to fight back and I was ashamed to say that I was afraid. Afraid that I might be hit then even harder. Or that I might hurt the other.

    Sitting on your father’s knee crying
    My mother often threatened that my father would spank me when he returned home after work. I was terrified. I recall one time when he took me into the living room, had me lay across his knees, and I was already crying so hard that he just couldn’t do it. I was already punished enough.
    Mary Poppins
    I loved that movie and, especially, the older daughter. She was so sweet and pretty. I envied her so much.
    CS Lewis
    Have you read “The Screwtape Letters”? My father recommended that book and I just loved it.

    You’re a very nice and wonderful person, Clare. I love your writing.


    Liked by 2 people

    • A wonderful comment. It is lovely to know you.

      I read the Screwtape Letters and remember parts from it, especially how putting others before self could be a way of competing and exalting onesself, and so of putting others down- just as we “humblebrag”. I accept Lewis’ own judgment of it, from “Screwtape proposes a Toast”- that thinking of the moral lesson, then turning it round, removing all joy or love from the writing in favour of a mockery that mimics mirth but is really mirthless was wearing to write, and in the end to read, too.


  2. I think there are some memories that you can give permission to leave. They don’t mean anything anyway, from this distance, and waht are we doing with them? Reinventing them every time we cast back to them, making them real when they don’t matter any more? Why would you wear clothes that we seven sizes too small? Thank God, we move on, we change, we evolve. XXX 🙂


    • I wonder why this memory is coming up. It could be that it is a foundation for ideas about the world or myself which I might be well to re-evaluate. Any ideas about the world or myself I learned in that moment are clearly not applicable now, but if they have influence now I might want to alter them.


All comments welcome.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.