"Today is the twin birthday of my brother Peter and my son, William. While having been born under the same star, each are different in their most prominent characteristics.
Put briefly, my brother, Peter, has always been the family fool, the one to clown about and to have always done the most outlandish of things. Once, as the child of a mum with seven children and little money to spare, when mum couldn't pay the rent, and the rent man knocked at the door and Peter heard mum wish that he'd go away, nine-year-old Peter took it into his head to act as mum's champion and drive the nasty man away. He picked up a long-handled broom, opened the door and hit the rent man on the head with a mighty blow!
My son, William , seems to prefer to live his life on the edge also. If there is one thing which he is likely to consider boring, it would undoubtedly be the familiarity of convention; of knowing what he might be doing the next day. In all of his 33 years, he has rarely been conventional in thought or lacking in conviction whenever he has set his mind on something.
This photograph is of William and his sister Becky, playing in the first and only house I ever built for them.William is the one holding the soft toy hanging out the window; the one with the curly locks that makes him look more like the girl and his sister, the boy. William had two favourite sayings which were obviously designed to let me and his mother know who was the boss of the household.
Frequently he would point at me and say 'You chump' and then whilst beating his breast in a stroke of victory, he would say, 'Me champ!'
Whenever I used to tell him to do something, he would first automatically ask 'Why?' I would then say in my parental voice, 'Because I say so and you've got to!' to which his reply would invariably be, 'Got to not to!'
Come to think of it almost thirty years later, these were pretty good replies for a four year old who was still finding his way in the world.
William was an early reader. He could read excellently by the time he started first school at the age of five years and was most of his way through the Roald Dahl selection of books by the age of six years. His school had this colour-coded policy with its book-reading scheme at the time and all pupils had to read the colour code ascribed to their age and class year. William conformed reluctantly for his first year at school before refusing outright to read what he called, 'baby books' which his class teacher placed before him and the other pupils.
Initially he told me and his mum about the problem that he considered to be 'time wasting', but we simply replied that school rules applied to all without exception. So he took it upon himself to approach the Head and to try to resolve the issue personally. At the age of six, William gave up a lunch break one day in order to attend the Head's office with a request to see her. He said, 'Do what you want to me, but I'm not reading any more baby books for anyone!' After being verbally reprimanded by the Head, he went back to class and went on 'a work to rule.'
Deadlock existed for about two weeks before we saw the Head and arrived at a compromise. We took home the colour-coded books and the Head agreed to take our word that he read through one colour before being placed on the next. Within a month, William was reading books to his level of ability and no exceptions were longer needed that breached school policy.
Then, when William got to 14 years old and the world seemed to be at his feet, his oyster simply closed up and it was a number of years before we observed his pearl of wisdom show itself again. Out went the reading of books and in came rap music, gel-spiked hair, girlfriends and the occasional spliff of cannabis, along with his persistence in arguing the merits of any view he happened to hold that was contrary to his mum and dad's.
I recall on one occasion that in my anger, after he had kicked out at me when I tried to ground him and stop him leaving the house, I automatically hit him on the head with my slipper that I was in the process of holding. He ran out of the house and called 'Child line.' Later that evening two police officers called to our house and I told them what precisely had happened. One of the officers, who sympathised with my situation said to William, 'Listen carefully, William. Dad hit you with a slipper and whatever the reason or justification, that act is against the law. If we officially report it, he will most certainly lose his job as a Probation Officer and could even receive a custodial sentence. Do you understand?' After William had indicated his understanding of the situation the police man asked him, 'Having heard what I've just told you what will happen if we make this official and charge your father, do you want us to charge him?'
William looked at the police man who'd wisely put him on the spot and said, 'No! Let him off...... this time!'
Although William eventually took his Degree in Economics at Huddersfield University, regular living and rule-following never seemed to come naturally to him. He embarked upon two years back-packing across America and two more continents before settling down in Australia, where he has now lived for six years; the last three years as a married man. He also got his Masters at Perth University.
I'd like to report that William is more conventional today in both his outlook and lifestyle, but to do so would be to tell a blatant lie. Whereas he has always been a rebel ever since early childhood, he has never been without a cause from one week to the next!
Today, he seems to change the nature of his paid employment with the regularity of the late Elizabeth Taylor changing marriage partners. But whatever he does to earn his living, he will always engage in charity work and giving Yoga instructions, as these two aspects of his life seem to hold great meaning and purpose for him.
In many respects, I can see a lot of myself in my son, William, when I was younger. However, as I frequently tell him, I grew out of my worldly travels and was ready for settling down to married life and a family when I was in my mid twenties and that he is currently operating ten years behind his old dad.
The thing that I most love about my brother, Peter and my son, William, is that God blessed each of them with the biggest of hearts and the wildest of character streaks. This will ensure that neither will ever be taken for granted by any chap trying to take money off their mother which she doesn't have to give them!
A very happy birthday brother and son. May your special day be filled with much happiness, love and generosity. I love you both dearly xxx" William Forde: August 11th, 2016.