My profoundly impractical, unquenchably generous, thoroughly benevolent father
纪念我的父亲 —— 那个对生活一窍不通，待人慷慨，又极其和蔼的老人
My father Richard, who died last month aged 88, was a profoundly impractical man. He could not drive a car, swim, whistle, use a mobile phone or computer, or play any ball game apart from croquet. One of his most common remarks was (he could not pronounce his ths), ‘Vis wretched fing [a door handle, a light switch, a well-wrapped parcel] doesn’t seem to work.’ When younger, he would sometimes go out with an unsafe 1840s shotgun in search of rabbits or pigeons, but the only thing he ever actually shot was his little toe, falling down a bank. Although he was extremely clean, he did not, until he married, know how to wash his hair, and would go to a barber for the purpose. Twenty years ago, he lived briefly in our house in Islington. At breakfast once, he announced he would be out all morning because he had to go to the post office to buy some stamps: he knew only one post office in London — in Trafalgar Square — and was unaware that other shops sell stamps.
我的父亲理查德在上个月去世了，享年88岁。他对生活一窍不通。他不会开车，不会游泳，不会吹口哨，也不会打手机玩电脑，甚至除了槌球以外的其他球类游戏都不会。他最常说的口头禅之一便是（他所有th音都发不准），“这烦人的（门把手、电灯开关、包的严严实实的包裹）好像有点问题。”早些年，他有时会带把19世纪40年代的猎枪出门，这枪并不安全，他带着它去打野兔鸽子，但唯一他真正打到过的东西只有自己的脚趾头，疼得倒在岸边。虽然他特别爱干净，但在结婚前他并不知道怎么给自己洗头，因此别人去理发店理发，他去那洗头。二十年前，他在我们伊斯灵顿区的家暂住过一段。有次吃早餐时，他宣布自己要出去一个上午，因为他不得不去邮局买邮票：他只知道伦敦的一个邮局 —— 在特拉法加广场 —— 却从没注意过商店也是卖邮票的。
This impracticality amounted to a cast of mind. In his five years as a journalist on the News Chronicle in the late 1950s, he never claimed his expenses for taking contacts out to lunch, because he felt it unseemly. I remember him astounding stallholders in the souk in Marrakesh by saying, at the first price they named, ‘Vat sounds very reasonable.’ Although never rich, he started adult life with enough. He then got rid of it with persistence and skill — partly by not understanding the difference between capital and income, partly by thinking food must be bought at Fortnum & Mason, wine at Berry Bros and suits at Welsh and Jefferies, and partly by his unquenchable generosity to family, friends and charity. In his nursing home this year, we found him sitting up in bed with his cheque book, making vague signing movements with his right hand. ‘Vere must be someone I can write a cheque to!’ he cried piteously, worried that he hadn’t been well enough to do so for several days. As he waited to go into theatre for the operation from which he never really recovered, he was busy making wishes for the charities he wished to help. He took so long explaining the glories of Freedom from Torture and the Hebrew University in Jerusalem (he was a lifelong, raging philo-Semite) that we feared he would run out of time to name the other beneficiaries of his by now tiny fortune.
这种缺乏生活技能的表现是一种思维模式的体现。上世纪五十年代后期，他在《编年史新闻日报》做了五年记者。这期间他从没申请报销过带联络人出去吃午饭的费用，因为他觉得那么做不得体。在马拉喀什的集市上，摊贩首次开口出价，他那句，“这个价格听起来非常合理。”把商贩们都整蒙了。虽非大富大贵，但他成年后的生活也还算富足。之后他便凭借不屈不挠的精神和独家技能把自己变成了穷光蛋 —— 部分原因是因为他搞不明白资本和收入之间到底有什么不同；另一部分原因是他认为吃的只能在福南梅森买，酒只能在贝瑞兄弟买，西装只能在Welsh and Jefferies裁缝店做（暂无官方中译名）；还有一部分原因便是面对家庭、朋友和慈善机构，他总是忍不住慷慨解囊。今年早些时候，他拿着支票簿坐在养老院的床上，右手隐约做着签名的动作。“肯定还有我该给支票的人！”他怜惜地说到，担心日后自己会因状况不佳而无法起笔。对那些他想施以援手的慈善机构，在等着手术的那段时间里，他一直在忙着安排，但也正是这场手术后，他便再没好起来。他用了太多时间解释慈善机构“免于折磨”及耶路撒冷希伯来大学的辉煌成就（他一生都非常热爱闪米特文化），以至于我们都害怕他会来不及说出其他受惠者的名字，虽然那时他的财产已经所剩无几了。
In theory, my father might have seemed like a snob. His first recorded remark, aged two, on being shown a picture of ‘Baby Jesus and his Mummy’ was ‘Where’s his nanny?’ He hated the words ‘radio’ and ‘TV’, so our listings magazine was renamed the ‘Wireless Times’. He refused ever to roll up his shirtsleeves because it looked ‘ravver ouvrier’. I asked him, when he was very ill, if he would like a clergyman to visit him, and he replied, ‘I fink it would be nice to see ve Archbishop of Canterbury.’ In practice, however, Richard treated all human beings the same, always assuming their good nature, their interest and their intelligence. One day, at our house in Sussex, he was helping a 15-year-old girl from the local comprehensive wash up lunch. ‘And that,’ I heard him say to her as I entered the kitchen, ‘is why Lazio, alone of the papal states…’ She was flattered by his uncondescending conversation. The hazard lay in the opposite direction — his uncritical reverence for learned persons. Once, after a weary hour with some whiskery professor of his acquaintance, I complained, ‘Goodness, what a bore that man was.’ ‘What can you mean?’ protested Daddy. ‘He’s a great expert on Danish political history.’ Ignorance did trouble him. At breakfast when taking my wife to York races (he loved the Turf), they watched the passing crowds. ‘It’s extraordinary to fink,’ said he, ‘that perhaps a third of vose people don’t know ve date of ve treaty of Westphalia.’
《威斯特伐利亚和约》是指1648年五月至十月间在威斯特伐利亚地区内的奥斯纳布吕克市和明斯特签订的一系列条约，标志着欧洲一系列宗教战争的结束。其实也可以简单理解为欧洲均势体系balance of power的基础，基辛格在world order一书的第一章欧洲部分专门讨论过此话题。
My unworldly father considered himself a failure. He devoted himself to the political party — the Liberals, now the Liberal Democrats — for whom failure is, with a few intermissions, a way of life. He always stood for parliamentary seats he could not win, and I never saw him try to advance his own interest in anything, except perhaps in seeking out good meals. He and my mother lived apart after about 25 years (though remaining married and fond of one another). His lack of the normal acquisitive imperatives which keep the show on the road was maddening for her. In retirement, he was happier than since his Cambridge undergraduate days, because, bolstered by a European parliament pension which even he could not exhaust, he could be benevolent full-time, whether it was taking members of his wider family (a pool of about 35 people) on foreign holidays or campaigning tirelessly for causes he believed were right, such as Remain.
At his funeral in his village last week, it was touching to see how many people understood his truly liberal spirit. As Oliver Letwin said in his perceptive tribute, ‘He was … it has to be admitted, ill-suited to the age in which he lived. But the defect lay in the age, not in him.’ At the wake afterwards, Felix, one of his grandchildren, spoke so well of the letter his grandfather had written to him when he (Felix) had transitioned from female to male. It began ‘Darling Felix’, and then added, ‘I know darlings are normally women but my mother used it for all close family and I follow her example.’ Felix added: ‘Even in my most insecure moments, I would never have thought to take the word “darling” as any sort of invalidation of my gender, which only makes his obvious concern on this point more endearing.’ At Christmas, my father always recited the toast: ‘Here’s to all those that we love, and here’s to all them that love us, and here’s to all them that love them that love those that love them that love those that love us.’ I now understand that he took those words literally, in all their ramifications.
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