A media buff of the highest order, the pop culture loving dad will often be found shouting at the TV and saying he could do it better, or eulogizing about the latest blockbuster movie (which he’ll have seen on the opening night). Actor, author and dad Charlie Higson explains why he’s glad he ignored the best piece of advice his father ever gave him.
The best piece of advice my father ever gave to me was when he said, ‘No writer ever makes any money, so get a proper job and you can always write in your spare time.’ I was a teenager when he told me this, and therefore I completely ignored everything he ever said to me.
So, thanks to him, I have never had anything remotely resembling a proper job and have had a very happy life doing things I love. My father grew up in the very conservative, convention-bound, pre-war years. He started his working life as an accountant and ended up as a management consultant.
I grew up in the sixties and seventies and my favourite TV programme, Monty Python, mocked bowler-hatted commuters like him almost weekly. He hasn’t worn a bowler hat in years, and is more than pleased that my life took the turns that it did, but it wasn’t an iconoclastic TV comedy that changed him, it was the early death of my mother when I was 18. All the expectations he must have had about how his life was going to be were turned upside-down. I think he questioned a lot of his values and beliefs, and realised what was really important. When all this was going on we spent a lot of time together and I got to know him as a real person, not just a ‘dad’, or a man in a bowler hat.
Having boys of my own, I now realise that we can never really know what’s best for our children, or have any idea what sort of a world they are going to grow up in. I don’t know how my boys’ lives will turn out; I just hope that they get to know me as well as I have got to know my own father, and that they ignore any advice I ever give to them.
This Father’s Day make your number one dad feel like he’s top of your chart by taking our pop quiz and discovering which literary papa is most like your old man – and most importantly, which book will really be a hit with him! Just visit the Penguin UK Books Facebook page to take the quiz.
Extract taken from Dads: A Celebration of Fatherhood from Britain’s Finest and Funniest (Ebury Press).
For more bookish suggestions for your dad this Father’s Day, check out our selection of top titles on the Penguin website.