My dad Colin Ward died in February. He has left us with decades of great writing and many good memories of the person he was.

Positive Attitude

Colin had so little negativity in him, and so many beneficial qualities like generosity, patience and compassion, that he didn’t need religion, or therapy, or physical exercise to make him feel good. In fact he was pretty hostile towards religion in general. But he always had a healthy lack of self-concern and a liking for activities which benefitted others.

A Thinker

Although many think of him as a radical, his alternative nature was subtle, perhaps only apparent to people of an intellectual bent. He didn’t have an artistic temperament; his lifestyle wasn’t bohemian or unconventional; aside from brushes with authority during the war, he wasn’t outwardly rebellious. His role was that of a thinker, and if you couple that with his concern for others, it’s not surprising he is remembered fondly.

Old Age

Colin worked in building, architecture and planning. He was a teacher, lecturer and author, as well as an anarchist propagandist. But from around the age of 80 onwards, he gradually lost the ability to talk about these subjects. His short term memory and ability to concentrate left him. Happily, he didn’t get the personality change which often goes with an advanced case of Alzheimer’s. Even when he was bent over, struggling to breathe and to retain information, he would be grateful for everything you did for him, saying:

“Every day, in every way, everything is getting better and better”.

My Dad and My Music

Colin used to design and make covers for tapes I made of my songs, going right back to 1984. In 1993, he made the cover for a tape called ‘Warm and Normal’, which consisted of a picture of a giant pig.

Some of the musical styles I worked in were hard for him to relate to but whenever I picked up the mandolin to go busking or join in with pub sessions, Dad would tune in.

Perhaps this is because he identified with rural folk music and the way it represents a somewhat neglected community, using acoustic instruments instead of sophisticated technology and emphasizing the message instead of the messenger.

15 comments on “Colin Ward (1924-2010)

  • WoW! i did not know your dad, i would have liked to. RIP
    I knew my DAD for fourteen years which felt about five, i did not really know him. what you have written is wonderful

  • Ben
    These deceptively simple words draw me in and I want to know more about your dad, keep telling the stories. I could only aspire to ever think that ‘every day everything is getting better and better’, a he truly lit a candle rather than curse the darkness.

  • This is really an amazing tribute, Ben. Man, there’s so much life in those photos. And your honest and thoughtful text is just great. Wish I’d met your dad.

  • I didn’t know your dad was a writer.. Looks like he was an interesting person. Hope you’re doing okay. Tell us when you’re in Canada and have a good trip.

  • What a loveable and studious man your dad was, and a bit of a maverick by all accounts – and you the spitting image of him Ben, what a lovely tribute.

  • Your father was a very special man. Your love and respect for him are inspiring. And I love the way you look just like him, especially in the image just after the cover of Anarchy in Action…

  • What a beautiful and inspiring tribute – excellent pictures.
    Thinking of you, Alison & Jim

  • I only met your dad once and that was in the last few months of his life but I could instinctively feel many of the attributes you have described about him, he was a charming, intelligent and benevolent man. What a privilege to have such positive memories of your dad

  • I met your dad first through correspondence in 1952 because my late husband & I wanted to translate an article he wrote in Freedom related to the death of George VI. Our first personal meeting was in 1958 when we came to this country. It was a joy and an honour to have met him

  • Your dad was sensitive, thoughtful and kind. I know my dad Philip respected him and his writing alot.
    What fun they must have had when they were young.(from Gemma)

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