Saturday, May 27, 2017


Will you ever let him go? (Lord Lord)
Or will you hide the dead man's ghost?
Or will he lie beneath the clay?
Or will his spirit float away? - "Sweet Mellissa",  The Allman Brothers
My Dad playing a Greengrocer in "The God Boy"

It two days time it will be my birthday. I am a baby boomer, and hence it is a long time since I earned the title of "a woman of a certain age".

I have  outlived my father. And my mother. And my sweet brother. 

A time for reflection. Crossroads.

Gregg Allman died today. And 21 years ago the beautiful and  sensitive daughter of a good friend. So many lovely and talented people Gone to god.

But I am still here, my friends. Though I think I will call it a day when Bob Dylan kicks the bucket.

There are many people to remember, but today I am remembering my dad. William Thomas Juliff, who died  appropriately on Palm Sunday - in 1983.

Remembering a dad who I was deprived of having a relationship with for all my childhood and teenage years. In fact, as a child I didn't really know if I had a dad. I would write "dead" next to his name when I was in primary school and had to fill out an admission form. Later on, at high school I was more literate and wrote "deceased".

Occasionally a present would arrive in the mail. From New Zealand where my father moved round 1968. I would open it and see the accompanying card, "Happy birthday Katie, from your dad." Why didn't he put his bloody name? I would glance up at my mother, thinking perhaps it was a present from an uncle trying to be nice. But she'd glance away, pretending that she didn't hear. Playing the martyr. Absorbing herself in some unnecessary household chore.

My dad was plagued by a sense of what was wrong with the world. The Catholic orphanage of St Augustine in Geelong,  The Nazis in Europe. Stalin betraying the left-wing. Suffering later in life from alcoholism. From poverty in the 1920s. Addicted to nicotine. And to love. And to lust. And to life.

Fletcher (1986) playing Caravaggio
Was he a "good" dad? I think so. Given the circumstances.

I saw him again last night. In a TV movie streamed on the internet. Called "The God Boy". He played a dead man.  I took the screen capture you can see above.

I posted it on Facebook and I think the people who saw it were horrified.

I wasn't. To me it looked like something Caravaggio could have painted. I think it was because of the fruit and the depiction of debauchery just below the surface. My dad played a greengrocer in "The God Boy" - hence the fruit and vegies.

In any case, it wasn't the only time he played a dead man. He played the hanged bell-ringer in the New Zealand film "Utu". He also played a drunken hotel receptionist alongside Sam Neil in "Sleeping Dogs". He played a used car salesman in "Goodbye Pork Pie".

I don't know what other films or TV shows he played in because he was hidden from me.

We met back up for a week in the early 80's. He was living in a mobile home as we call them now, at the back of the Princes Gate Hotel in Rotorua.  His voice was gone - probably because of throat cancer. He wouldn't  see a doctor.

I was with my boyfriend of the time. We spent every night at the bar of Princes Gate Hotel. Kiwis weren't into wine at the time. But the bar had a few casks.

We drank the lot.

I'm with you William Thomas Juliff. Despite all those lost years.

Like you, I know there is no god looking down upon us. But if there were, I am sure she'd smile as I raise a glass of chablis and toast you.

To my misunderstood and very talented  dad.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

No, I did not think it was too 'raw', Kate. As we age (listen to 'im @ 83 yoa) we become more reflective, but I find that it's not always pleasant. So whadda ya do? Let it out a bit, get it on paper and move on. I hardly knew my dad as he died when I was 7. I'm sure he had PTSD from his service in the British army in the trenches in 1917 on the Somme. He was a pleasant companion when I was with him in the earliest stages of his terminal illness - taught me to play Euchre, critiqued my drawings, had me run errands. Ours was not an easy life at that time - Mum struggling to earn money to pay for a shilling in the gas meter, to clothe her baby boy (me) and wonder what was to become of it all. She was under-educated - a farm girl from Bourke.

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