My friend Sebastian’s father was my father’s very best friend.  When Sebastian first met me he knew exactly who I was.

My father was his hero.  His description of Kuros almost perfectly matches how I have heard myself described.  He cut quite a dash, he was impeccably dressed and when he entered a room people took notice, he could also be very, very bad-tempered.

Not many people have very nice things to say about my father.  My mother, his business colleagues, some of my brothers and sisters and their mothers all of them seem a little too ready to condemn him yet, strangely, I am not.   Even though he wanted nothing to do with me and treated my Mother very badly I am still willing to forgive him.  It is touching that he had such a profoundly positive effect on Sebastian.

We are without doubt very similar in temperament but unlike when I die…when he died he died very, very rich.

He was without doubt a colourful/controversial figure.

Sebastian’s father owned a restaurant in London where my father met all of his wives.  I still don’t know a great deal about him but I know for sure that his second wife disappeared one night with her children never to see him again.  I know that his third wife had a terrible time with his temper and cavorting.  I know that he loved backgammon and opium.  I have been told, although these might be myths, that he was thrown out of a second floor window by the notorious gangster Kray twins causing him to have a life long limp?  That he wrapped a sports car around a lamp-post severely damaging his eye?  That he was implicated in a massive robbery but never formally charged?

He certainly owned a restaurant and an antique shop and his big break came when he met a profligate Saudi Prince who bought everything my father could lay his hands on and sold to the Prince at exorbitant prices.

Isn’t it odd that whilst he owned an antique shop in London (only feet away from where I would one day live with JBC)  I was trawling through the antique/junk shops in Whitstable and Canterbury.   That his restaurant was only a block away from where I would settle with Phil.  That we may very well have passed each other in the street and never known who one another was.

I met a man on the train to Shrewsbury I was convinced was my father.

He was not my father.

I felt as if I were not allowed to ask Sebastian questions about my father, as if the topic were still off-limits, disallowed, forbidden.  There is still a huge amount of shame surrounding his name.  As if even the barest mention of him a terrible catastrophe would somehow happen.

Yet, there is nothing more I need to know about him.  I know that I am his son, that we are cut from the same cloth and that it scares me to hear about him because in some way I am forced to accept my own flaws/defects/shortcomings.

That, my friends, is incredibly uncomfortable.

My father died in 1998 of pancreatic cancer.  I never met him although I feel as I have.  A protracted and messy financial battle ensued after his death.   There are all sorts of stories about who stole what from whom but my four younger siblings seemed to do OK.   He left at least 8 children behind, two ex-wives (did he ever bother getting a divorce from any of them?) and a widow.

It was a pleasure discussing him with Sebastian because Sebastian has fond memories and…I believe him.