David Ross Falconer was my father, and our relationship was a complicated one.

We defined our relationship by the disagreements that we had, about politics, science, history, movies, and whatever else we could find to argue about. These debates became the glue that held us together. There were no long-term consequences to these discussions – they were just how we felt at the time – as my dad would say, I’d argue black was white just for the sake of it. It is a skill I am particularly proud of.

If my father’s life had a theme, it was one of trying to constantly trying to better himself. Of being proud of his accomplishments and standing up for what he believed in – even when there were times when we all would have preferred him not to.

A joiner by trade, my father was a perfectionist in his craft and a throw back to earlier times. I remember him when helping me with improvements to my first house taking the same amount of time to adjust how a door closed as I took to build, varnish, and mount a set of shelves.

The door closed beautifully.

He was simply in a differently world when working with wood than I was with my clumsy and amateur attempts.

My Dad loved westerns and loved nothing better than to watch Clint Eastwood, John Wayne, or Gary Cooper ride around the old west – even when it was really Italy.
Mum has still never forgiven me for the John Wayne DVD box set that bought Dad a few Christmases ago.

For all of my life, Dad was working for the City of Aberdeen – first as a Joiner in the Parks and Recreation department and then as a counselor. And just like any good western, my father’s world was populated with heroes and villains and seen in black and white, even though as a person he was full of contradictions.

He strove to be an intellectual while being a working man. He was an outsider as a loner, not a social animal and he had few friends; but he connected with people that he could help. You just didn’t want to get cornered at a party by him.
There was no malice or pretension in my father just a drive to his life better and that of the people he felt responsible for.

His proudest achievement while working as a joiner was getting a pay raise for his fellow union members. Perhaps not the thing to say at a job interview for a big DIY chain store – but that was my dad.

My father went back to school, learned about economics, and taught himself how to invest all while cutting wood for a living and being a union organizer. He got himself involved in politics, particularly local politics, and joined the labor party. Ultimately, however, he was a Blairite when everyone else was concerned with Maggie Thatcher. Upon meeting Neil Kinnock, Dad complained to him that he had not moved against the far left soon enough – that was my dad; saying what he thought because it was how he felt at the time.

Local politics was where my dad felt most at home and really became the man he had always wanted to be. Elected as a labor councilor he developed a reputation with his constituents as someone who got things done.

There was a new sheriff in town.

Unfortunately, his relationship with the local labor party soured and he was deselected. My father did not make friends easily and I’m sure that ideological and intellectual purity rather than results from representation played a hand in what he felt was a betrayal.
But like the gunslingers he so admired my father just picked himself up, dusted himself off, got back on his horse… and joined the Liberal Democrats.

He may have lost his battle for reselection but won his war when he was elected for Holburn as a Liberal Democrat councilor with a majority of 35. It was as a councilor that he found his niche in life. It was the job he was the happiest in and it was the job he rode off into the sunset doing.

Dad worked incredibly hard to get elected and then incredibly hard as a councilor and, in some ways, to the detriment of his health.
Illness dogged my father’s later years and became a mirror image of his life. First, he had to deal with the physical illness and then latterly a mental one. For someone who spent the first part of his life active and working with his hands and then spent years finding ways to improve his mind and finally as a councilor being able to use that mind his illness was incredibly cruel.

Although I’m sure he thought of himself as a tradesman to the day he died, Dad always was looking to refashion himself and it was as a councilor that he succeeded. This was his gift to me, the ability to change gears, and reinvent oneself as circumstances dictated.
We might not always have seen eye to eye, or event been as close as either of us would have liked; but we loved each other, and I have a deep respect for his achievements and for the journey that his life led him on. My one regret that Dad was never able to visit my current home, less than half an hour from that Mecca of the old west: Tombstone.

Goodbye old cowboy – no more arguments, promise.

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s