It was Battle of Britain Day yesterday but I was too busy being maudlin and depressed to mention it. But that would be to do my Dad a disfavour.
Alexander Walker Hamilton
Born 23 AUG 1922 • Breich, West Lothian, Scotland
Died 24 DEC 1980 • City Hospital, Edinburgh, Scotland
He was actually too young to have been in the Battle of Britain but he was called up to the Royal Air Force shortly after and spent six years fighting Hitler so you lot could swan about drinking artisan coffee and moaning about how hard your lives are.
A German plane crashed outside Victoria Station but if you were one of the rich few you could always doss at the Green Park Hotel for 7/6 until the rubble was cleared. Of course, little was Hitler to know that my Dad had been called up that very month by the Royal Air Force with the express aim of kicking his German arse.
Ninety four years ago today, my Dad, Alexander Walker Hamilton was born. He’s been dead since he was 58 but he’s still my Dad. Here he is with a young Mr H, outside our luxury holiday accomodation at Kinghorn, around about 1971.
Apparently there is some Christmas thing happening about now, but to me, the 24th December will always be Deid Dad Day. Yes, it was Christmas Eve, 1980 when my Dad died, just after my Mum had nipped oot tae the shops with my Auntie Eva to buy some Christmas stuff, seeing as how my Dad was supposed to be staying in the hospital. But in the finest tradition of the NHS, they said he was OK to come home. The ambulance dropped him off late morning, my Mum went to the shops just after dinner, so it was just me and my Dad when he died.
Here he is, taking a short break from kicking Hitlers arse in World War 2, second from the left, at a military wedding. Do the click thing for a big version.
Every year, without fail, even when he was dying a slow and lingering death, my Dad would trek up to the Scottish National War Memorial in Edinburgh Castle. He would look up his brother Bill, who was killed in the Second World War, bow his head and say a silent prayer.
The Palais de Dance, Fountainbridge, Edinburgh was where my Mum & Dad met. It was also the place my Uncle Phil punched oot a certain Tam Connery. An amazing dancehall, according to my Mum, it was turned into a bingo hall and has been lying derelict for decades while a student housing builder tries to demolish it. Welcome to Edinburgh and their shameful cooncil.
Well, my Dad has now been dead for 35 years, and I only knew him for 14 years, but I still think of him most days. So here he is, in 1950’s glory, with my auld Irish mammy in happier, more glamorous, times. That it to say, long before I arrived!
Yes, it’s Victory In Europe Day, and few people did more to beat the bally Bosche than my deid Dad, Alexander Walker Hamilton. He spent six years in the RAF between 1940 and 1946 giving Adolf what for.
Here he is, with his best pal (and best man) Phil McLuskey showing just why the Germans surrendered.
We went to see the film down below. Cos men didn’t go to the pictures with their children back then. They had important things to do like working and going to the pub. As it should be. But he made an exception for this one as I was deemed old enough not to show him up.
It was his third favourite film ever, after Shane and The Man Who Would Be King. And he was right about THWWBK.
He still called it the Regal, even though it had been renamed ABC many years before, but I don’t think he had been back to the pictures since he was winching his wife to be (aka my Mum) back in about 1960.
There was none of that nonsense about buying food and drink in the pictures either. That was for rich folk and eejits, but he did buy a packet of Opal Fruits out of Mrs Thomsons before we walked along Dundee Street.
It was a very exciting day for me, and one of the last good days I remember with him, as he was already smitten with the cancer that was to kill him 3 years later.
The strip of pictures of the two of us was taken a couple of years earlier at the photo booth that used to be at the side of the Caledonian Hotel in Lothian Road.
My dads old school. He wasn’t much for the school, was my Dad. He left as soon as he could, walked to Woodmuir Colliery on the Monday morning, got hired the same day, and got dragged home the same night by my Grandad who wisnae having that.
So he ended up working at the petrol station in West Calder, filling tanks and washing windscreens, until Herr Hitler got some ideas in his head aboot taking over the world. So it was six years in the RAF during the war for my Dad, Alexander Walker Hamilton.
I was delighted to get his RAF service records which declared him “educationally subnormal” on his induction. The fruit disnae fa’ far fae the tree.
But this is his old school – West Calder High School