He had started working in the Abadan refinery when he was 11. By 15 he was a competent lathe worker. He bought this suit as a present for himself.
My 85 year old Dad just discovered that Nigella Lawson’s cooking program is not watched for the cooking.
It was a funny Euroka moment for him. He said I bet people don’t watch this program for the cooking.
Yes Dad, they don’t, although the cooking ain’t bad, or in fact it’s good.
Then I was sitting in the car with my 17 year old daughter and I was listening to the new Kasabian Album. I said I bet people like Kasabian for the retro element in their music. She turned round and gave me a silent Daaaa! look and said yes Dad people like their music for their retro.
A few years ago, I decided to do this oil painting of my Dad for his 80th Birthday.
I was telling him about my trip to China so when I painted it I put him in a mountainous background and told him it was China! It could had been many places I suppose but I wanted to put him somewhere that his imagination would have liked to go.
I’ve spent the last few days in a family reunion. You know in my “about page” I mentioned that I could write a book about all the things that I’ve experienced. A lot of it is down to my family. Many of the stories are tragic so I’m not sure if I do want to reveal them. One thing I will reveal here is that the old man in this picture is my maternal Grand Father. He is surrounded by his two daughters and his son on the far left. I saw my aunt the one on the left (the only survivor from that family). My Grand Father was a rich man but his wealth was completely plundered. We only grew to share the tragedies, the family legends, the sorrows and perhaps some of the good genes as well as the bad ones!
The Orchard is a Tea Garden in Grantchester, Cambridgeshire. It is a place that looks frozen in time.
In 1868, it became a Tea Garden purely by chance. A group of Cambridge students asked Mrs Stevenson of Orchard House if she would serve them tea beneath the blossoming fruit trees rather than, as was usual, on the front lawn of the House. They were unaware that, on that
spring morning in 1897, they had started a great Cambridge tradition.
The Orchard soon became a popular ‘up-river resort’.
The owners started to take lodgers and one particular lodger was Rupert Brooke who brought his circle of friends later dubbed by Virginia Woolf as ‘Neo-Pagans’.
In March 1915, he embarked on a troop-ship bound for Gallipoli. Tragically, he was never to return. He became very ill on board, and on 23rd April 1915, aged 27, he died from blood poisoning.
The Grantchester group:
E.M. Forster, Rupert Brooke, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Bertrand Russell, Augustus John, Maynard Keynes, and Virginia Woolf ( from left to right).
We visited the Orchid from time to time.
In the summer before I our marriage, I used to bring my wife here.
I brought my daughter who is 16 now and wants to one day read English at Cambridge here.
I wanted to give her a sense of History. Who knows perhaps one day they’ll have her picture among these pe
I wrote this piece as an experiment in first narrative character development.
I was four when my parents divorced. Forced to a marriage, my mother after 12 years finally had enough, she had to make a choice of staying or leaving, she chose to leave. I had two older sisters, eight and the other ten. For us the divorce was devastating. She wasn’t a scarlet woman and when I became older before she died I understood and forgave her.
So we managed to survive somehow.
One day My father took all the family pictures cut Mum out of every single one put them in a metal can poured paraffine and burnt them. I sat down and watched as the image of my mother slowly faded first into blue flames then turned back.
A year later after leaving me either in care of whoever he could, or alone in the house by myself with some food like a cat! he became friends or at least found out about a man an artist who had a young daughter, and he developed an interest in finding out about the girl. Many Iranian commercial artists used to have these shops where they sold their forged copies of master pieces. To sweeten the relationship he bought two paintings and a pencil drawing. He brought them home one day. The pencil drawing was a curvy fifties Hollywood style nude that had just come out of water and had covered herself with a towel, the other two were the picture that you see and a night landscape of a port. I asked Dad who is this one? Dad said its Josephine Bonaparte. Really Dad? Yes sure that is what the Artist said!
We met the family and loved the girl she wanted to marry. She was so talented and charming and made a puppet for me out of nylon stockings. But Dad decided not to pursue the courtship. She is too young, he thought. Or she was perhaps not curvy enough for him. Knowing my Dad he only thinks with only one part of his brain and he has paid a heavy prize for that!
Anyway, once again I had become a five-year old managing my own affairs whilst Dad was at work and my sisters were away at school, and my only companion? Dona Isabel de Porcel by Goya but forged by the father of the bride not to be.
Years later when I had lived in UK for a good few years I came across her actual portrait in the national gallery London. She is beautiful, isn’t she? My mother Dona!
So who was she?
The portrait depicts Isabel Lobo Velasco de Porcel, who was born at Ronda around 1780 and was the second wife of Antonio Porcel (a liberal also portrayed by Goya in 1806; yet his painting was lost in a fire). Isabel’s husband was 25 years older than she, and they met when she was 20 years old. Antonio Porcel was a friend of Gaspar Melchor de Jovellanos, who in turn brought him in contact with Goya, who lived in close proximity of the couple’s domicile.
The half-length portrait depicts a young woman dressed in typical Spanish attire, a white shirt and a black mantilla. In spite of her “maja” attire, the richness of the textiles and her lady-like appearance give the picture an aristocratic elegance. In certain epochs the clothes worn by the Spanish wealthy class were an imitation of the popular attires.
My father did marry again. He married a woman who looked like the pencil drawing. She was good at first but after her first birth when she felt secure in her marriage she showed her true colours grey and black! They stayed together for many years but she made his life hell.
When he brought things from Iran, he had lost pretty much everything he ever had to the pencil drawn woman, my step-mother. I just asked him for one thing, I said Dad I’ve stood on my own feet all my life and have not had a penny help since I was nineteen but I just ask for one thing, I want that portrait. He said but it was all torn up now, it happened by accident when we were moving house. I said it doesn’t matter, just bring it. Will you restore it now that you can paint yourself can you restore it? he said. I’ll see what I can do. So he brought it and I looked, she was only a shadow of the original, her face was torn all the way to her belly and the work was not that skillful but I took it with pride. My wife couldn’t understand my excitement but that picture meant a lot to me, or at least to the five-year old that I once was. I took Dad to the portrait Gallery one day and he sighed when he saw the original, he stood there for about four minutes silent, and said do you remember? … do you remember? and I said yes Dad I remember!
He became free from the pencil drawn witch! and as a 82-year-old of he goes out with a walking stick and a cheerful buddy who is about the same age . His friend has a fifty-five year old girlfriend and dad fancies the same idea. The fact that he has no money left doesn’t bother him, he still dreams just like a teenager. As for the faked Dona, she is in my Garage which I use as a studio and every now and then when I’m painting I pay her a visit.
Why a surrogate mother? Because Thanks to Dona I was not left as a forgotten child and I was reborn as a new being, an Art lover!
My daughter who is 16 did this drawing of my father from a wide angle photo I had taken off him.
I knew she would become a more masterful Artist than me but I didn’t expect it to be so soon!
Ever since I remember she was doodling. When we went travelling and we did do a good share of globe trotting, she was always drawing on hotel stationary papers.
She is turning this into an etching using acetate and I can’t wait to see the results. Her previous organic print was fantastic.
My Dad is 82 now. On the inside he is still like a teenager or at least he has been like that for most of his life, but as he’s become older he has regressed to even a younger age and he is like a five year old. He was with us over the weekend. The weekend incidentally was the Iranian New year which starts with the spring equinox. It is called Norouz which literary means a new day. When a parent gets that old and you love them then every day that you have the pleasure of having them around is a new day you should cherish.
I did this drawing of him a month ago as he was falling into a nap as he was watching TV with us. On Saturday we were looking for a shop that would sell walking sticks, he was saying I can’t move my leg very well, then I explained to him that his walking stick had bent a little and the tip had gone in making it shorter which is why it is effecting him. i took him down the pub that night and with my daughter being 16 and legally allowed to drink cider we had three generation of Torks drinking away. It was a first.
There he stands my Grandfather Akbar Tork, age four or five. He is wearing a three piece suite and has a gold watch chain hanging from his pocket.
The picture is just over a century old. His own grandfather my ancestor had escaped a massacre that had wiped out many in a Qashqai tribe, he my ancestor that is had gone into shock and walked hundreds of miles towards south when he was 14, and by the time he was a man he had become a successful local business man. When surnames were registered he still had a strong Qashqai Turkish accent and he was given the name Tork (as in Turkish). His sons became successful men too. One (Abbas Mirza) had become Governor’s adviser in the city of Bushir, the other son Reza became the head of customs and excise. Being well to do Abbas Mirza had married a girl from an aristocratic family (eslambolchi) but in the height of his success he was killed by a sniper as he was taking a boat ride. The picture that you see is before Abbas Mirza’s death. In fact somewhere I have an earlier picture of him holding his son Akbar then a toddler. Akbar also worked for customs and excise, he married in his early twenties but one day he came home coughing blood. His family suspected murder but there was nothing to prove. Akbar left two sons, one who was still unborn and the other my father who was then aged three.
When my father became an orphan, his inheritance was plundered. His mother married again but one of the conditions of the new husband was that he would not care for the three year old child but would take in the new baby.
My father had a brutal childhood. He was grossly neglected. He started working aged 11, and studied during evenings.
He became a successful manager working for the Iranian oil company and he was prosperous enough to fund our private school in UK, but he too had a life full of ups and downs.
Then Iran had a revolution in 1979, and our fate changed again, but that is saved for another blog.