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My Father
The story behind the poem

My father had a tremendous feeling for children, maybe because he was so childlike himself in many ways. Sometimes, when he was happy, he would skip - literally skip - and he was the best storyteller I have ever known. When I was a small child he could get me to sit absolutely still while he was cutting my toe-nails or finger-nails. Of course I knew the loud bump was him stamping his foot, but I held my breath to listen all the same.

All those things I've mentioned we went to look for in appropriate seasons, and I can see him now with the wooden-framed shrimping-net slung over his shoulder, brushing through the marram grass of the Norfolk coast on his way down to the sea.

When he died, which he did from cancer at the age of 63, I was absolutely bereft. We had had our differences - who doesn't - but he embodied my childhood and gave me my roots.

by Damaris West

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