Reflections on the Life of
14th March 1924 – 26th January 2013
Douglas Bryan Parrish, known as Doug to everyone, was born in Netherton in the West Midlands, on 14th March 1924, almost 89 years ago. Both he and Mum attended Dudley Intermediate School – where their paths first crossed.
During world war two he joined the home guard (Dads Army) but as soon as he could, he enlisted in the RAF, where he served as a mechanic attached to a mosquito squadron, until the war ended. He was stationed in India, and in Japan, and visited Hiroshima soon after the bomb had been dropped.
When demobbed he met Mum again and to quote her it was “boom – love at first sight”! Although apparently she refused to dance with him at first because she didn’t like the fact that he smelt of beer! But luckily for Chris, my brother, and myself she relented!
He moved to Bedford in 1947 to work at a canning factory with Mum’s father. She joined him soon after, and they were married in March 1948 in nearby Elstow Church, and were happily married, for nearly 65 years.
They moved to Cople into a new house in All Saints Road in 1956, where both Chris and I were brought up.
In the year when Mum was pregnant with me & the year afterwards, Chris has vivid memories as a ten year old, of travelling all around the Southern Coast of England from Norfolk to Somerset with Dad in an old Bedford van – camping in the back of the vehicle at nightfall! They spent the evenings in the van listening to the radio – one evening included listening to the Floyd Patterson fight in America. One day Dad tried to cook a fried breakfast for them – but without any fat it was not very successful! Apart from his BBQ-ing, his culinary skills did improve later on, with his notable vindaloo curries.
Doug’s culinary skills also extended to brewing his own beer – pressure cooking the hops ensured the odour per-vaded the whole house! But the marrow Rum was not considered a success, when the marrow exploded in the airing cupboard! Before the Bedford van, Chris remembers when he was about 8, that Dad had an Armstrong Sidley limousine with a pre-selector gear box. Every so often a lever would go wrong in the gear box & it would freeze completely, bringing the vehicle to a standstill. Chris was the only one with hands small enough to reach into the warm oil to free up the lever – so he was a very handy passenger to have on board!
There was also an automatic window washer – which sprang into action when the radiator overheated spewing water onto the windscreen!
Dad – who simply loved to tinker! – fitted a small petrol motor to the back of his bicycle which had a top speed of 22mph – which he used to travel to work. Apparently, he used it once for a mega trip from Cople to Dudley & back! Meanwhile Mum & Chris – quite sensibly – went on the coach!
As a child, Chris fondly remembers cycling around the Bedfordshire country side on the back of Doug’s bike, and remembers crisps & lemonade outside the pub. Which, later on, changed to pork scratchings & a pint inside the pub!
Clearly Dad was very good with his hands and was a true DIYer. My early memories of Dad include him building all sorts of things for me, from a small peddle car to a three foot long Gerry Anderson Angel Interceptor model hand built out of wood, curtain rods and a moulded plastic windscreen, which I still have to this day!
He also built a huge fold down wall in the living room that contained a scalextric race track. And almost finished converting the loft for a model railway, until I discovered girls, and train sets went out the window!
Dad and I also played squash together, and practiced YOGA – from a book – dressed in only our pants – sitting on the carpet in the middle the living room!
Dad was a draughtsman/designer by trade and Chris picked up part of that skill becoming an architect – something that made Dad very proud.
When Dad retired, he turned his draughting and DIY skills to more artistic uses and began painting and making pottery and one of his watercolours is included on the ‘Order of Service’. His pottery pieces ranged from very nice pots and figures, to intricate scale models of various famous buildings such as the Taj Mahal and Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s ‘Hill House’, as well as a great model of our own cottage, which we really treasure.
Also during their retirement Dad and Mum enjoyed some adventurous holidays in Russia, Canada and a Round-the-World trip. In fact the Russian trip seems to be remembered by Mum primarily by the fact that Dad and a fellow English traveller did seem to enjoy one too many vodkas of an evening!
In the late 90’s, Chris & I took Dad on holiday touring the World War One battle fields of Northern France, spending some quality time together, including a visit to the Last Post Ceremony at the Menin Gate. Dad reminisced about our ‘Grandpa Parrish’ who had been over there in the same places we visited.
Dad had a tremendous fascination for books – he was a very knowledgeable man. But trying to get information out of him was difficult at times! He was incredibly widely read – as the front room at number 9 is testament – from several full sets of encyclopaedias to hundreds of used library books! Waterstones lesser-known Cople branch perhaps!
Recently, many people have mentioned what a gentleman he was and it has been so nice to know how much he was appreciated and respected by those who knew him. And yes he was a gentleman, always courteous and friendly to those he knew, and those he didn’t.
He was also very, very generous and one felt if you asked for the moon he would have done his best to get it for you!
Dad had a long, happy and fulfilled life, and one that has brought love and support to many.
He really has been a great father to both Chris, my brother, and myself and also a loving husband to his wife, our Mum, Lynda.