|Stills from the second video link below.|
I said that my father would get a longer entry, and here it is. First, a couple of video clips giving a rough idea of some of his work and ideas as explained by the man himself. They're both rather grainy and come courtesy of Youtube.
The Experimenters from 1974 - part of a BBC series. I dimly remember this being filmed. Note the sweet synchronicity of my childhood being in Richmond, Surrey and our home now being in Richmond, North Yorkshire.
Archive footage from 1979 I think. Not sure where it was made, but it gives a good flavour of G's style.
Both are edits by Paul Pangaro, who also runs an archive of G's work (link at the bottom of the post).
All of this is public record of course. My own perspective is a bit different since I grew up with the man and understood only a very little of his work.
It took me a very long time indeed to realise that G was a major figure and regarded by some as a bona fide genius. I was a naive child perhaps, but it was a genuine shock to discover that other people had fathers who did things differently.
- Like being awake during the day.
- Like not walking up and down the road eight times before dinner.
- Like not running on the spot for 40 minutes every night.
- Like not leaving eight dabs of food on the edge of his plate for the fairies.
- Like not having a basement full of combustible machinery and a steady stream of adoring and/or traumatised staff and students living with them.
Looking back now, I realise too that my mother was made of truly sterling stuff as she took all this in her stride for the most part. G had huge personal charm, but was also tunnel-visioned and selfish to an astonishing degree. Our lives revolved around his timetable and nothing and nobody got in the way of it. He needed that order to function I think. He simply assumed, childlike, that things would happen as he wished because that was the way he wanted the world to work.
That makes him sound like a unloveable tyrant and he was not. He was, in all the important ways, the kindest of men. He moved mountains for his friends, students and family, often going to a lot of trouble to do so. He took infinite pains with his students, pushing them far beyond anything they'd thought themselves capable of achieving. He listened with equal interest to the latest developments in his own field to the minutiae of my day at school. Really listened as well.
I've never known anyone so open to information.
For the record, I loved him dearly, miss him terribly and wish almost every day that I could share things with him.
A proper memoir is brewing I think.
For those interested in the technical side of G's work, I warmly recommend Paul Pangaro's extensive archive. To be found here. Paul did his PhD with G and is an old, old friend.