Self-Portrait, in Dad’s Jacket: Memoir

Jeremy Hughes


My dad’s bigger than your dad! He’s 6’3”, 17½ stone and wears size 11 shoes!

No one else’s father came close. In the early seventies, when the country stopped to watch Miss World, statistics mattered, and all I ever wanted was to grow up to be the same size. And have a hairy chest.

Whenever I asked him what he did, he replied, ‘Steelworker.’ I didn’t know what that meant. I understood what a doctor was – Dr Thomas made me better – and I knew what a lawyer was because I watched Crown Court on telly when I was off school ill – but steelworker? The closest I got to knowing was the day he took me on the works’ bus to collect his wages. Men boarded at each stop and ripped into each other until they saw me and checked themselves. Some of them put their heads against the window and slept. They might have worked a ‘doubler’, two shifts in a row, or they had ‘doubled back’, that is, gone home to bed then woken to go straight back for the next shift. Llanwern: three and a half miles long from nose to tail, breathing fire and smoke. Dad went into it every day and came home without a scratch, so I’d be all right with him...

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