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Sohail and Dad.jpg

Sohail and Dad

A happy memory that I have of this person is...well it’s a hard one really. There’s lots of different stuff, so it’s really hard to actually pick one that’s an outstanding memory. I think spending a lot of time with my dad; I used to spend a lot of time with my dad. Being the middle child, I was quite a lonely kid in lots of respects, or quite introverted, just because of how my siblings were, I think. I used to spend a lot of time travelling around with my father because he used to work for a bank. He used to oversee the branches of banks in London in the seventies. So I have got lots of happy memories of London in the seventies... driving into London with my father... listening to the radio...and visiting places like Brick Lane and Woolwich and Docksides in London... and Spittlefields Market and places like that.

Tricky, if I could say one more... I’d say, ‘I love you’, I think. I did say that when he died. One more thing... I think I kind of had the conversation with my dad as he was slipping away, so I was able to kind of say everything I needed to say to him. Some things I probably would say... it would be, ‘I love you’... and as I’ve said before, ‘I’m sorry if I ever disappointed you’. But also... I think there would be part of me that also would like to just say, ‘you were a real pain in the arse’, as well. Which sounds a horrible thing to say, but it isn’t, because I love my father incredibly... but we had a very strange relationship. 

I think we’re quite alike, me and my father. And I think people that are like you, are the people you can tend to have the most conflicts with because you can see yourself reflected back to you. So I think... I am just wishing he had been a bit more braver in his life. But then he was, for coming to this country... with the race and the culture and having a family... and all those compromises he had to make.

I’d say, ‘thank you’ in some ways, I think. I’d say, ‘thank you for, in a way, being like me’. Because it taught me a lot of things about myself... and even though you never avoid pitfalls in your adult life, it kind of... the experience of my father being like me is a little bit like saying, ‘well, that’s something... things about you I can see in me, tell me how to be and where to go and how not to be’... I suppose. Or how to do something differently? Maybe not better... because we’re limited by the time that we live in and it’s very easy to judge your parents, but they have other things going on, don’t they?

Professionalism. My father was incredibly professional but in a very old fashioned way and had a lot of integrity, my dad. But he had a lot of integrity that was appropriate for a particular time. And as things moved on...I mean he retired in the eighties, but even then, by that time, the world of finance and banking was changing in a lot of ways... in terms of things with technology and products and stuff like that. 


Things were changing.

That coat is very much my father. The memory of my father. Like I said before, coming back... coming home. That’s one of my earliest memories of my father... is this really tall person in this really dark, long coat. Coming home in the evening.

It has lots of sensory stuff: it’s big, it’s black, it makes you bigger than you are... because it’s a big black overcoat. And I’ve got a number of black overcoats that relate to it; it’s also a long line of my dad’s overcoats as well. It must be my third or fourth one that I have. I didn’t nick this one from my father because it was in the cupboard and my mum gave it to me. But as a kid, I nicked them from him and ended up taking them to college... or ended up having and taking them abroad... and then ending up having a big overcoat. This one in particular... it’s just very big, very warm. A little bit kind of rough; it’s not particularly fine cloth. I think it’s probably enveloping, that’s the biggest sensory thing about it.

I think we made up at my sister’s wedding; weddings are a great one for breaking people up or making things up. So we kind of made it up then... but that was very, very difficult, because I think he had an expectation. It was also about what I was doing with my life at the time, that I was doing theatre and he wasn’t really into that. He kind of understood it but didn’t understand the purpose of it because he comes from a generation where you have kids... a family. You have a job and then retire and have a holiday once a year, or twice a year... whatever... have a house.

It’s a funny one because this object is like... I used to wear... You know you try sometimes to be like your dad... and I was remembering recently about, as a kid, trying on my dad’s suits when he wasn’t in the house. And it’s like the coat was like trying to be a little bit like him... in a kind of ironic way, when I was a kid. When I was in my teens and I used to wear it... the other coats... not that coat, but another coat he would have had like that... and I was wearing it in that kind of... Smiths, ironic cardigan, type way of wearing your dad’s coat as kids did in the eighties.

I think what I dislike about it is: it’s a little bit... can feel... like when I’ve worn it recently its felt like I’m overheating in it. And the overheating is then tied in psychologically with feeling a bit cloying, somehow.

It’s very much about my dad and it’s very much about my relationship with him; it’s very much about my  connection to him and the identity that I have.

I suppose I value it because it’s, again, the connection to my father. But also, it’s... I think psychologically it’s a lot deeper than that. I think it is about protection. It’s about armour. It’s about memory. It’s about loss; it’s about not wanting to go to certain things to do with my dad. It’s about... I suppose it’s about him. I don’t know if it’s part of the grieving process.

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