Thursday, 22nd February 2018
My father John Sidney Smith died this evening. Oscar Wilde quipped that "All women become like their mothers.
That is their tragedy. No man does, and that is his".
For me there's a certain truth in that.
My father was a major figure not only in British Origami
but worldwide. See an Origami focussed obituary
He not only folded models, knew key people, but also contributed to
the theory of origami and its use in areas like therapy. I can just about fold a paper
My father had taste and talent in music. He won a prize for playing on the cello at school
though he favoured instruments like the acoustic guitar and mandolin. Despite my
parents' efforts I failed on a range of musical devices from recorder through clarinet to balalaika
(the last after being
taken to hear a Russian balalaika orchestra visiting Norwich).
He worked hard to provide for his family. He studied statistics in evening
classes which took him out of a drawing office to a marketing role in Vauxhall Motors,
and then to working for Reckitts and Colmans in Norwich (which is why I grew up
there). He edited the Institute of Statisticians journal at one stage.
Statistics was one of the mathematical disciplines that stymied me
when I read maths at university. I wish now I had studied a language but that's
He worked in the early days of computers at Colmans in Norwich. He got me first
programming on Texas Instruments calculators, and then urged me into
my computing career, seeing computers as the coming wave. I am grateful
for his pushing, software has been a good career for me.
I remember the special occasions of my childhood like the cinema forays. We would
dine at a Chinese restaurant by the multi-storey car park, on exotic dishes like
birds nests. And then we would see films like "2001", "Battle of Britain", and
the "Sound of Music". For me seeing a film at the cinema is still special. He
introduced me to films like Kurosawa's "Seven Samurai", and Jacques Tati's
"Playtime" and "Traffic". He expanded my horizons.
He also introduced me to Eastern thought like Zen and koans, to the deeply
significant Winnie the Pooh books, and Lewis Carroll's playful works. To
Science Fiction like Asimov and Clarke, to detective fiction like Edmund Crispin
and Dorothy Sayers. We had magazines like the Scientific American and New Scientist.
The latter had an article on the Oriental board game Go once, and my father got us
playing that. I'm still playing Go forty plus years later.
We had some great caravan holidays - ranging from being stuck in muddy fields on
Mull to nearly floating down the river at Freshwater East. These were still
early days for caravaning, we camped in rough fields at times. caravan turning over once.
We also voyaged to Switzerland and America and Italy and Yugoslavia. For these
holidays he would marvellous scrapbooks of pictures and tickets and descriptions.
My tribute to those scrapbooks is this website.