Dad loved David Jason in A Touch of Frost. The television crime series about a detective inspector captured Dad’s feelings about justice and injustice, about freedom and authority, about truth and lies.
David Jason seems able to express the entire range of human emotion, from the profoundly tragic as well as the deeply comic. His character Del Boy in Only Fools and Horses is selfish and superficial and completely untrustworthy, but the character was transformed in a single moment the episode when Grandad has died. Del is his usual buoyant, ebullient self, taking everything in his stride. He spends an evening drinking and laughing with his friends. Grandad was old, old people die; what should Del Boy feel about it? The next morning, when Rodney challenges him, he breaks down; he hasn’t even begun to cope.
Get over it. I ain’t even started yet! Ain’t even started, bruv! And do you know why? Because I don’t know how to! That’s why I’ve survived all my life with a smile and a prayer! I’m Del Boy, ain’t I? Good old Del Boy- he’s got more bounce than Zebedee! “Here you are pal, what you drinking? Go on! Hello darling, you have one for luck!” That’s me! That’s Del Boy, innit? Nothing ever upsets Del Boy. I’ve always played the tough guy! I didn’t want to, but I had to and I’ve played it for so long now, I don’t know how to be anything else! I don’t even know how to…
Following Dad’s death on Tuesday, there seemed nothing to be said. Dad had been very ill and would not suffer anymore.
When he was discharged from hospital two years ago, I had joked with him that the list of co-morbidities on his discharge letter was so long that it might have been easier to have written what was right with him.
Last Saturday, when we brought him home from hospital, we had joked with him that we would smuggle him out if necessary. When we got him home and back into his armchair I had laughed with him, “Do you know, Dad, I thought we had been rumbled when we were smuggling you out and that security guard asked to see inside the coffin. I suppose we had better take the hearse, back now.”
Last Sunday, he watched Scotland defeat France in the Six Nations rugby tournament.
It was hard to imagine that by Tuesday morning he would no longer be with us.
Like Del Boy, I don’t cope so well with things. There is nothing to do other than carry on, because I don’t know any other way. I don’t even know how to . . .