10 Minutes With Dad.

Father’s Day is this Sunday (19th June) and to mark the occasion I wanted to share with you a little bit about my Dad, Stephen Crook. 

What is your background?

I was born in Wigan, a proud Lancashire lad. Hence my love of pies, of any kind. I was brought up in the cotton towns of that area. If you look at a typical Lowry painting, that sums up my childhood, cobbled streets, factories. 

I was the first person in my family to go on to university or college, I went to Central St Martins in London to study Graphic Design or then otherwise known as Commercial Art and Design. 

Originally I wanted to be a painter, but quickly realised there was no money in it so turned to graphic design as my creative outlet. This didn’t happen straight away, for a while I worked in factories and shops. At one point being a shop manager for a menswear boutique fashioning platform shoes and velvet flares with my shoulder length hair. 

I became a National Insurance inspector for a number of years before fulfilling my dream of being a full time designer. 

Since then i’ve run my own design practice, been a self employed freelance designer and have worked for various agencies and design based companies. Today, i’m now semi retired. 


Claim to fame?

I designed the CD single cover for ‘Candle in the Wind’ by Elton John after Princess Diana died. 

In the mid 80’s I had an impromptu dinner with Kevin Keegan and his wife in Puerto Banus, he was then footballer of the year. I’ve also had a curry with Jack Straw, in fact the meal in Puerto Banus was a curry, so just various curry evenings with celebs. 


Who is your favourite artist?

Everybody loves Mark Rothko, but it would have to be Edgar Degas and Howard Hodgkin. I’m also a great fan of Antony Gormley’s work. I feel the public have more of an understanding of contemporary art these days. I just love something that’s memorable, makes you think and has a sense of humour. What I don’t like about modern art is the pretentious reviews you read in Sunday papers and arts magazines which tell you how great or bad a piece of art is. Go and judge for yourself, it’s all down to the viewer. If you like something stand by your convictions. 


What have you been listening to recently?

Radio 4 most the days. Football on radio 5live. Obviously i’ve been listening to Euro 2016, England have a chance of doing quite well, perhaps that’s wishful thinking, after all i’m an England fan and have been disappointed so many times. At least I managed to witness their win in 1966 on tv, i’ve wasted 50 years of my life waiting for them to win another tournament, but that’s the cross i’ve got to bear being an England fan.


What have you been watching recently?

Apart from sports tv, in the past 12 months i’ve enjoyed Happy Valley, War and Peace, Line of Duty. We’re going through a golden age of tv at the moment. One thing that’s a let down is that there’s no real comedy on tv anymore, although I did enjoy Car Share, but i've always had an affinity with Peter Kay with going to school in Bolton and having family from there. 


Favourite recent film?

My favourite film in the last few years would be The Wolf of Wall Street, in fact I saw that with you (Hattie) didn’t I? *Awkward opening scene sat with my dad*... It’ll be a classic in 20 years or whatever, it’ll be recognised. 


Favourite Film of all time?

The Dear Hunter - it’s great. 

Who’s your favourite author?

To be honest i’m not a big book reader, i’m currently reading Ventoux, a novel about the Tour de France which i’m enjoying. I always read the Independent on a Sunday. I can’t stand trashy tabloids. The Sun is all politics, Rupert Murdoch is a pain, sorry to get political. If I ever buy the ‘i’ newspaper it’s only for the puzzles. 


Where has been your most favourite place to visit? 

Arisaig on the West Coast of the Scottish Highlands, peaceful and idyllic. We would holiday there as kids and now our family has started going back, so I can enjoy again as an old man. There’s an emotional tie with the place, the beaches are as nice as any in the world. The waters cold, the midges bite and the drive is long but when you see the views and breathe air that fresh, it’s all worth it. 


Favourite place in Europe?

The Spanish Costa Brava for the great food and weather. I've got a fond memory of going on a road trip with you (Hattie), leaving your mum and Francesca (daughter) to sunbathe whilst we went to explore Salvador Dali’s mansion. Listening to Morrissey driving in the sunshine. That was a good day.

Who’s your favourite comedian?

Hands down Billy Connolly, i’ve seen him live 3 times, twice in Blackburn. I love Peter Kay, Sean Locke, Kevin Bridges. 

Favourite music artist?

Marvin Gaye or Van Morrison, Daft Punk and Nile Rodger are great. Remember the time we saw Roots Manuva? I don’t think my ears have recovered yet…

What memory sticks out the most as being a father?

In your (Hattie's) case keeping you in your cot and trying to stop you from escaping. We went on a family holiday to Tunisia in 1993, worst decision we’ve ever made. We had to keep strapping you into a buggy in the boiling weather, but you’d escape, unbeknown to us, regularly. On one occasion you ran off the beach back into the hotel to the indoor pool. A friendly German couple alerted us so I ran inside, shouted and grabbed you just in time to stop you from plunging into the deep end of the swimming pool. Francesca, the opposite of you, mummy’s girl, the home bird, remained sitting quietly making sand castles with Mary (mum). She’s since grown out of that phase however...

What’s your proudest moment?

Being at the birth of both my children. I've always been proud of my girls, I may keep my emotions to myself but i’m really proud of the careers that they’ve made for themselves. 

If you had to choose something for Father’s Day from MH what would it be?

‘My Dad Used To Be So Cool’ by Keith Negley. I like to think i’m a cool dad and the illustrations are wonderful.

What will you being doing on fathers day? 

Seeing you and Francesca, sharing a bottle of red, catching up. 

Final note Dad?

I hate to admit that Yorkshire fish and chips are better Lancashire chippies. I’m not a religious man but I regularly attend service at Bizzies Lizzies in Skipton, that’s my temple. I like to take it canal side and wander down to your shop and sit in the sunshine outside. Perfect.


So pops, daddios, pappa's, young and old, you're great - well done. Happy Father's Day! 

Hattie x