Saturday, 14 April 2018

in recognition of my Dad Willie Patterson; scriptwriter of Jeff Hawke; Daily Express & Titan Books

Willie Patterson, selfie c1963
My Father William Cunningham Patterson, born 22 May 1929 in Perth, Scotland, was a larger than life character from my memories as the oldest of 3 daughters, an only child for 9 years so I knew him the most of any of us girls, remembering his taking me to see CoCo the Clown when I was about 5yrs old, shaking his hand from a ringside Circus seat.  Two wonderful birthday parties when I was 5 and 12yrs old, having started Caledonian Road Primary School and Perth Academy, respectively.  My Dad was a gentleman, could be autocratic and over-protective but he wasn't a disciplinarian and I had freedom as a child, to explore, have adventures and a safe house at home to return to.

I remember him organising a community Fireworks display where we lived at Pomarium Flats, Perth, in around 1963, on the wasteground where the bus station now stands. Auntie Margaret (Dad's older sister) and Uncle, Jim Page lived on Cross St, also overlooking the wasteground.  My bedroom window looked out on this ground, my favourite tree for climbing is still there, photo taken on Good Friday this year, Queen's Hotel in background where I worked as a Chambermaid summer of 1971:

our balcony on 4th floor number 70 Pomarium 1960-70 when I lived there
My Father's Jeff Hawke scripts have been republished twice by Titan Books, in 1986/7 and 2008.  According to strip creator Sydney Jordan, my Dad started as scriptwriter with the Daily Express in 1956 while also writing other stories for Fleetway Publications, including war stories, Dan Dare, Caroline Baker Barrister at Law, originally doing Children's Encyclopedias.

testimonial written by Sydney Jordan November 1986 in Jeff Hawke Book Two

Jordan sent me copies of Jeff Hawke Book One & Two after my Father's death 9 October 1986.  My middle sister and I had attended his funeral in Kensal Green, London, after being informed about it by Sydney Jordan.  Who says in this testimonial about my Dad in Jeff Hawke Book Two: "Of the two of us, his was the unique talent and what was to come cannot detract from what had been. ... Willie was a man who saw beyond the skies to the stars".

My Mother's telling of the story about my Father's contract with the Daily Express being terminated in 1969 is that they wanted him to put more women in the script but my Dad resisted.  Mum (Anne Patterson) died on 19 March 1998 so I can't ask her for more detail however I do know that my Father never came back to Perth after 1969.  I think he feared incarceration at Murray Royal psychiatric Hospital as he'd formerly been an inpatient there, maybe around 1963/4, after walking naked down Tay St when having a complete breakdown.  Again this is a story remembered, not talked about because of the shame.

Family photos passed on to me by my Mother:

photo of my Mum & Dad taken August 1952, Perth, I was born in the September
selfie by my Dad
Mum & Dad with me 1953 at my Grandparent's house in Kingswell Terrace, Letham, Perth
my Dad holding me 1953 Kingswell Terrace
my Mum taken by my Dad in our Pomarium flat, Perth
My Father was a family man and also a science fiction writer in London, and I think the latter put stress on the former, thinking back to the 1960's and my Dad scriptwriting through the night on his electric typewriter in our 4th floor 2 bedroom Council flat, sending them off by Courier for the deadline.  My Mother tried living in London for a while in the late 1950's before my middle sister was born, I stayed with my Dad's parents, Granny and Grandpa Patterson, in their 81 Dunsinane Drive flat along from ours at 57 (we'll all moved out of Kingswell Terrace by then).  But the big city didn't suit my Mother.  So we all lived in Perth while my Dad travelled up and down to London, my younger sisters born in 1961 and 1966.  It wasn't ideal.  By 1970 the family had fractured, following another one of my Mother's nervous breakdowns and my Granny's death that July.  Social work intervened and my sisters were fostered. 

I plan to self publish a book about my Father and our family, memories, stories, photos, as a legacy to my children and grandchildren, to keep a record of our achievements.  

Recently I donated copies of the 2 Jeff Hawke books republished by Titan Books in 2008 to Fife Cultural Trust for the East Fife Mobile Library which we use in Springfield, Tarvit Terrace, on a fortnightly basis when it visits:

handing over Jeff Hawke books to June Souter in East Fife Mobile Library Springfield 27Oct17


My Father William Cunningham Patterson received the King's Badge in 1948, disabled as a result of war service when in the RAF briefly as an Aircraftsman, second class aged 17yrs.   

I am very proud of my parents, both of them heroes in my eyes, flawed as all of us are, but outstanding in their own ways.  I am glad to say that we have inherited their broad range of creative skills eg writing, craftswomenship, music, sporting achievements, homemaking, imaginative pursuits and an ability to resist "lifelong mental illness" and it's narrow corridors, being productive in spite of disabling drug treatment and coercive space invasion.  Thank God.

South Inch Perth
photo of me taken by my Dad c1963

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