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Alf in the communal garden in  Swaythling, taken 25th July 1999. Click to enlarge picture.

Swaythling, Southampton.
(page 1 of 2)

< click to enlarge - In the gardens outside his flat at Swaythling in 1999

1978-2001. An afterword.

Some comments about Alf Allen's life, living at Greenlea Crescent,
Swaythling, Southampton, Hampshire, UK.

jump to swaythling page two

Mike Allen writes:

This chapter of my dad's life wasn't in his written Annals; for some reason he stopped that flow of recollections as at 1978, when he moved into his furnished flat in Swaythling, Southampton. I find that surprising; it's not only a fair portion - 23 years in a life of almost 80 - but it was some of the most interesting (to me, anyway). Whether he was happy is not for me to say, but he seemed mostly content. Married twice, divorced twice, but a man seemingly content in his own (and a few discreet others') company.

But I guess he was thinking about writing a history, and thus what was happening as the present held less interest for him.

So, I've had to have a go at writing this part, and I must tell you, it's not easy...

It’s difficult writing someone’s life story for them, even a so-called chapter of it. And despite the fact that he was my father and in the years he spent in Swaythling I saw him regularly, I can’t adequately fill-in the gaps that exist.

The major problem is that I didn't live with him, or see him often enough - OK, I visited several times a year, but during the time I was married to my first wife, she wasn't that enthusiastic about Alf and his 'irascible' ways... and I didn't make enough effort to see him, to get to know him. Yes, yes, it's the same that occurs to any of us that lose someone we love - always too late to find out more.

Maybe I shouldn’t deem myself suitable to add anything; he had, after all entitled the printed work “MY FAMILY HISTORY ANNALS (from Southwark to Southampton) A DIARY OF EVENTS from pre-1900 to 1978”.

Maybe a diary of events it should remain.
The fact that I feel there should be more is only because I miss him.

So I can only offer some comment on what my dad wrote before, add a piece here and there and describe how I saw him. Somewhere there existed his final journal, a day-by-day account of his non-diagnosed illness with oesophageal cancer and his increasing loss of weight, but I would not want that here (and know for certain, neither would he!).

From the chapters above it is plain to me that he marked his life increasingly after his first marriage to my mother ended with his diary entries; sometimes mundane, but a record nonetheless. I saw many times (and my first wife commented) that he often tended to measure his life away… He sometimes gave to others the image and outlook of a much older man, but was still physically fit: whenever I visited he would walk his usual daily three to five miles, only desisting when the rain was heavy, and often wore me out (as someone thirty-two years his junior…).

His greatest happiness was during his army years. The single book chapter that became website pages army01, army02, army03, army04, army05 and army06 is the longest, most detailed, most interesting to me and he could be persuaded to talk about those years in India at length, although I can never remember more detail than he put in here.

It is a shame that he didn’t include anything in his Annals from 1978 onwards, as his life did change, expand, broaden. His work at British Aerospace was of great interest and pride to him: he told me many times of his inspection of parts for Harrier Jump-jets and Hawks and that the Red Arrows Aerobatics Team relied on the quality of “his” factory’s output. He was pleased with the social life attached to the factory in Hamble, which paralleled his contribution with Plessey, although he never became as formally involved with British Aerospace (he was 57 when he joined them!). And he made good friends, amongst them Bill Brown, whilst working there that he kept afterwards when he retired.

Indeed, Bill was with him as a good friend (and driver; Alf never did properly learn to drive nor pass his test) right to the end; Bill was genuinely angry that my dad hadn’t been given the best treatment by his local doctor and that by the time he got to hospital on the 2nd February 2001, it was too late (but I get ahead of myself).

The flat at Greenlea Crescent was unfurnished and after my dad moved his furniture in during that summer of 1978 he decorated. Oh there's so much to write here and remember :-)

Obviously, four years since this website was first "launched", I've hardly added anything here, and maybe it's time to stop the pretence that I will, ever.

Alf at my first wedding in 1990

My dad at my first wedding in 1990, pictured in the churchyard of the Church of the Ascension in Fox Hollies, Birmingham, UK.

He looks happy - I think he must have thought that I'd never get married (I was 36 years old, maybe so did I…). His mother, my grandmother, Florence Hobbs, was also present, but I haven't found the pictures of her as yet.

It's a shame neither of them were still alive for my second marriage to Dr Melissa Lee Price (hiya, Missy! XXX)

Concludes on page two

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Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 UK: England & Wales License.

Text by Alf Allen 1999. Edited and spell-checked by Mike Allen 2003.
Most photos taken by Alf and most illustrations drawn by him; scanned from his albums, etc., now in my possession and digitally edited 2003-2005.
Yes, yes, the photos and layout need updating - the website was first designed in "dial-up days", before any sort of broadband, and everything had to be small so it uploaded and downloaded fast. Work to do, I know.

Website produced 2003-2013 by Mike Allen - a fatuous platitudes production.

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Last changed 28-Aug-2013 22:54