For Dad

For Dad

178 days ago

Dead Man Singing is dedicated to my dad, David Couch. The fact that my main character is also a Dave is a coincidence; he certainly isn’t based on Dad, Dave just seemed an appropriate name from the world of 70s rock – messrs Gilmour, Mason, Crosby and Edmunds, among others, nudging me towards my choice. I was some way into the writing when I realised the connection to Dad, and by then the name had stuck.

Dad and I shared a love of music, though not necessarily the same music. Dad was a jazz musician, playing double bass in local bands around Croydon as a young man, and good enough sit in on occasion with Acker Bilk when the latter’s regular bassist took a break. I enjoyed Top of the Pops far more than him, although occasionally something would draw him in – I recall him enjoying Ian Dury and the Blockheads performing Hit Me with Your Rhythm Stick. In any case, I like to think I inherited my love of music from him, even if our tastes were very different. I was certainly nowhere near as gifted a musician as him. Dad could have become a full-time jazz musician, but chose my Mum instead, raising the money for Mum’s engagement ring by selling his double bass. It was a wonderful romantic gesture as well as a statement his commitment. As I say in the dedication to the book, he loved music deeply, and loved his family more.

The relationship between Dave and his father in the book isn’t based on me and Dad either. The fictional pair clashed far more than us (though, like all fathers and sons, we had our moments). Although we had our differences, there was no great schism between us that needed repairing. Sport was another common love, although again we expressed it in different ways. Dad’s great sporting love was rugby, where mine was football. He was also a keen sailor, and in later years took up walking.

Like many of us, Dad experienced some issues with his mental health in later years, taking an early retirement from work due to depression. However, he was never happier than when spending time with his grandchildren. My sons were 9 and 6 when Dad died, and although he would have loved to see the young men they have grown into, the joy they brought to his last years is something I treasure. I don’t think Dad ever regretted his decision to choose family over music, even before becoming a grandad, but those two boys more than confirmed that he made the right choice.

Dad, like many men of his generation, wasn’t overly demonstrative with his emotions, but I always knew I was loved. Once, when my wife was expecting our first child, I asked Dad for his advice for me on becoming a father. His answer – that I didn’t need it – was a great compliment and meant the world. Rest in peace, Dad. This one’s for you.

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