Saturday 5th May – It would have been my dad’s birthday today – The first since his passing last October.

Ordinarily on this day, we’d visit him with perennial presents of a bottle of merlot, along with  a CD to embellish his eclectic collection. Despite always receiving this predictable pairing of gifts, we knew we were always on safe ground when it came to the old man’s appreciation. He liked formulaic, especially after the year he requested a surprise birthday present and I handed him with my phone bill.

Merlot and music his favourite evening double act in dotage – An amalgam of bedfellows always welcome, particularly when enjoyed in the company of his family and friends. A twosome that brought the old man contentment – Akin to the pleasure brought to him by other duos. Partnerships such as entertainers Morecambe & Wise, songbirds Simon & Garfunkel, uncompromising footballers Jack Charlton and Norman Hunter, along with fast bowling pair Fred Trueman and Brian Statham.


I’ve got say it’s been weird during the few days before his birthday not having my wife Karen enquire “What CD do you think your dad would like for his birthday?”. Or “Gary, next time you’re up at Sainsburys, would you do me a favour and pick up a bottle of red wine for Malcolm.”

Some of the family are getting together at my mum’s house later. Here, on the anniversary of his birth, we’ll raise a glass to the old man who we all miss dreadfully. A proud, loving man who possessed not one shred of malice, spite or negativity…… Although, understandably was unimpressed by lack of benevolence when I presented him with the gift of my phone bill, leading to me being asked despairingly “Are you right in the head?

Last May, with his health deteriorating, we had an awareness his 81st birthday maybe his last. Dad declined the opportunity to “Party like it’s 1999!”, opting instead for a low key day predominantly spent with mater. The Wise*** to his Morecambe; the Garfunkel to his Simon; the Hunter to the old man’s Charlton and the Statham to his Trueman.

*** – Utilising the word ‘wise’ in a sentence relating to my mum probably makes the above paragraph a collectors item.

This afternoon, some family members will congregate at casa Strachan senior. We’ll be missing the main guy, however we’ll toast him with a beverage of some description and share fond memories in his honour…….. Incidentally, when I wrote ‘the main guy’ in the previous sentence I meant my late father, not God the Father…… That being said, God has indicated he can’t attend either as he’s guest at a wedding in Pontypridd.

As per usual on the anniversary of his birth, we’ll consume a cold buffet of ham, salad, Spanish meats, pizza and cheese. We may even put a Sinatra refrain on in the background, a nostalgia evoking accompaniment to the modest but flavoursome buffet.

Eating times at casa Strachan senior tend to be messy occasions where attendance of table manners is optional. My mum, in particular, who has the aesthetically displeasing habit of chewing food with her mouth open. It is an unintentional display of poor dining etiquette from the old lady – This idiosyncrasy on view the consequence of if she ate with her mouth closed she’d have to momentarily stop talking.

Happy Birthday Dad!….. If you’re not going to the Pontypridd marriage with God, I hope Frankie, Mel Torme, Bobby Darrin and Eva Cassidy are getting the drinks in, while melodically singing you a birthday lament.

Oh, I almost forgot, have you a forwarding address where I can send the CD and bottle of merlot, dad?