Me and my dad: inspiration, indifference and pride

There are few experiences more bonding than sharing a drink with your dad. Over a glass, or two, of Tobermory 12 Year Old whisky, a writer, photographer and magazine journalist, give a frank glimpse into their relationships with the men who raised them

‘It’s taken us a while to sit across a table from each other, but he’s in everything I write’ – by Tom Druker

When I first told my dad about the subject of this piece, how his creativity has inspired my writing, he responded with the traditional Druker facial expression (somewhere between a sneer and a shrug).

“Pheh,” he said. “It doesn’t even inspire me.”

It’s taken us a long while to get to this point, sat across a table from each other, talking like a pair of adults. Mostly over coffee. Occasionally something stronger.

Collage of pictures of Tom Druker and his father Norman

My dad has a huge personality, but he’s not a big drinker. Two wine gums and a glass of water and he’s pissed, he says. I used to drink a bit too much. Now we meet somewhere in the middle. We used to be too different, too much the same to do this. We had rows, we didn’t get on. But times change. Times change people. And now we have moments.

Detail of whisky glasses in bar

My dad retired around the time I was stumbling into adulthood. After a life of work and activism, he took up creative pursuits, playing in bands and DJing world music, funk and jump blues, expanding on his lifelong passion for music. As funny as he is, he takes it all very seriously.

I notice the ways I’m like him, now. And the ways I want to be like him. He’s probably the funniest person I know. Cutting, absurdist and lightning quick. He’s got a sharp reply before you’ve finished talking. And when chatter falls to quiet, he’ll point strangers out, invent stories about them, tell me who they’ve just had a row with.

He’s also a walking encyclopedia for film, music and literature. Pick out an old soul single and he’ll tell you who played bass on the B-side.

His morality is like a lodestone to me. My understanding of the world was forged by anti-apartheid fundraisers, picket lines and marches before I could walk, and it’s informed by him to this day.

It’s only now, as I pick it all apart, I realise how much of him is in everything I write. Sometimes behind the words on the page or the mouths of characters. Sometimes just kibitzing in my ear, telling me to lighten up and try putting a joke in for once.

So now we have fleeting moments of connection I treasure. Something he never got to do with his dad. Something that will always be with me.

He can also be a bit of a putz, to be fair.

Amy Lo with her father James

‘My dad’s my cooking (and fashion) inspiration’ by Amy Lo

My dad and I haven’t always gotten on, with my stubborn teenage behaviour and his old-fashioned views. But as my mum doesn’t really drink, my dad had someone to share a tipple with when I started drinking. Even now when I go home he jokingly asks when I’m moving back to be his drinking buddy. We found out about one another’s likes, pet peeves and favourite drinks (mine: tequila, his: whisky). I got to know about his fascinating life and him as a person, rather than just my dad. You think you would know these things about your parent, but over a drink, this authority figure fades and a friend emerges.

Collage of pictures of Amy Lo and her father, James

Being someone who studied fashion and has always been obsessed with clothes, we often find ourselves chatting about the topic. You’d never know to look at him in his home-knitted vests, but my 76-year-old dad was quite the fashionista back in the day! He showed me his old Dior suits, bought with his first paychecks, and that ignited my interest in vintage fashion – which was a step outside of all my high-fashion magazines. I make my own clothes as much as possible, and when video-calling my seamstress of a mum for help, my dad is often in the background ready to pipe in with some advice – a longer hem, more fitted, a different button – and I hate to admit it, but a lot of the time he’s spot on.

Amy Lo's family eating Chinese food from bowls

I know every child says this, but my dad is one of the best cooks on this earth (owning a successful takeaway for 20 years might have something to do with it). But one thing that’s certain to come up when we meet up is talk about food. I’m always bugging him about how he made a dish while I ply him with a drink, hoping for him to spill his secrets. As someone who could only boil pasta when I left home, I now make dishes from around the world. My love for cooking and fascination for flavours is down to him.

I’m now an entertainment journalist at a leading women’s magazine. He may not know the people I write about in my job, but he’s always been supportive of me and keen to learn more about the industry I’m in. It wasn’t easy to get into, and I know that my perseverance in my career is the same as my dad’s “never quit” work ethic that got him from Hong Kong to the UK in his 20s, and got him his successful business after many less successful ones. And that’s certainly something to say cheers to.

Euan Myles and his father David

‘From Scotland to photography, I can thank my dad for the things I love’– by Euan Myles

My dad, David, inspired my passion for both photography and Scotland – which I’ve had a lifelong love affair with.

He’s Scottish, in fact he’s very Scottish – he’d play the bagpipes at my school and my two brothers and I would often wear kilts – but his work as a doctor meant I was born and raised in the East Midlands, which is billiard table flatness.

When we would visit my granny in Forres as a kid my brain would be absolutely fried by the beauty of the place, I just always had an affinity and always felt Scottish – although when I moved there when I was 18 I was constantly and very much reminded that I wasn’t!

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My parents enrolled me at the Findhorn Foundation in Forres, which is a spiritual community, where I did something called the Youth Programme, which enabled me to develop my photography and led to my career, and had me moving back to Scotland as soon as I could.

Dad loves my work and is so proud. He was an amateur photographer and had a dark room at our home, and I used his Rolleiflex as my first camera; I’ve been lucky to have a dad who is so supportive.

My two brothers are very academic, and obviously my dad is too, being a doctor – plus my grandparents were doctors, so I had a lot of pressure to “do something”. I’m dyslexic, and at school I just wasn’t academic, so photography really opened up so much.

The Isle of Mull is both one of my and my dad’s favourite places in Scotland, and I love exploring every nook and cranny with my camera. It’s incredible and diverse, a bit like a mini Scotland in one. It’s mountainous and moory and it has breathtaking beaches.

It’s wild but it’s got towns like Tobermory where there’s theatre, and there’s a real sense of community about it, yet it still has this complete remoteness, which is what I love most about it.

And of course, there’s the distillery in Tobermory. The whisky somehow manages to taste like Mull by encapsulating its myriad qualities. It’s beautiful, peaty and completely an island whisky.

To learn more about the art of the Hebridean distillers visit tobermorydistillery.com

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