Today I welcome Geoff Le Pard for a blog tour for his latest book, My Father and Other Liars. I first met Geoff over at the Carrot Ranch. He is a prolific and talented writer. He has also written a post for my Monday Inspirations series and a great short story in response to one of my prompts this summer.
As the title to my book, My Father and Other Liars suggests it is about fathers. Maurice (Mo) Oldham, my main narrator, has believed his father dead for many years and, at the book’s opening, he has just reconnected with him. His father abandoned the family when Mo was 7 to follow his calling to join an Evangelical Church, having been recruited to it by a flamboyant preacher who visited London. I based this on some vague memories I had of people talking about the impact Billy Graham had when he came to England to preach in the 1960s and 70s. Rolf Oldham, Mo’s father is, for Mo, a figure of hate. He wishes in many ways he was dead. At one point, talking to Lori Ann Beaumont, the other main protagonist, he says,
“When my Father, my real Father left… and then she [his mother] died. You know what?” I stopped halfway through putting milk in the fridge, like the idea had just hit me. “I’m a ******* orphan now. Good as.”
Mo’s mother remarried and he has an equally difficult relationship with his stepfather.
“He’s my stepfather, Graeme Butterworth. A good man, history will record. He didn’t hit her or abuse me. He paid the bills and we ate and slept safely. But I hated, hate, the bastard. He’s made me miserable throughout my life. And since she… she… Now she’s gone I hate him more for outlasting her. I hope he’s hurting like hell.” I looked at Lori-Ann then. I hadn’t intended it to sound so aggressive. “Of course he hurts. He loved her, didn’t he? But he was such a… Oh I don’t know. It was the way he worked so hard to get me to like him when I was a kid. He made such an effort and I despised him. And Mum never complained however horrid I was. They both ‘understood’.”
By contrast, Lori Ann Beaumont has revered her father all her life. He’s the leader of their Church, one founded by her grandfather. But when she meets Mo she’s having doubts about him. She’s a geneticist who is increasingly uncomfortable with the use of human embryos in the research carried out by the Church funded university where she works. He doesn’t appear to share her concerns.
“Some. I… I sometimes think he’s just childish – no, make that childlike – in his confidence in science having all the answers. It’s not that I take issue with the basic philosophy, just the route.”
She is disconnecting from her father – there are secrets in his past she has yet to unravel which are coming between them – while Mo, unwillingly yet inexorably, is reconnecting with his.
We still inhabit a patriarchal society in the West, albeit one that is moving more towards a welcome, if long overdue, balance. As such fathers remain authority figures, figures that are expected to give a lead. When that doesn’t happen, when that trust bond is broken – and at whatever age that happens – the ramifications are potentially profound.
In my life my father was a constant and was constant in his opinions, moods and outlook. He modified all of those as he aged and his circumstances changed but only relatively modestly. I, however, changed dramatically. Between being a compliant 16 year old to a frustrated and opinionated 18 year old our relationship changed and not for the better. Going to University and, holidays apart, living away from home helped but we had a couple of years or so where we barely spoke. Then I got married, he was evidently as pleased as punch, he retired and relaxed and we adapted our parent-child relationship into a friendship that deepened and endured to death and beyond. We needed that gap to enable those seismic shifts to work through. Looking back now, from the distance of decades it is clear it was me changing more than him. He had gone through the same with his father. It is an age old truism and one I was determined to reflect in my book.
When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much he had learned in seven years. (Mark Twain)
Geoff Le Pard started writing to entertain in 2006. He hasn’t left his keyboard since. When he’s not churning out novels he writes some maudlin self-indulgent poetry and blogs at geofflepard.com. He walks the dog for mutual inspiration and most of his best ideas come out of these strolls.