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.
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.
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.
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.