My father's full name was Peter Andrew Winton Kelt. He was born in Dumfries in 1932. He attended Dumfries Academy, showing an aptitude for sports and languages. In his teens, he discovered golf and considered turning professional at aged 18, but he opted instead to go to the University of Edinburgh.

Dad as a baby with his mother Mabeth, his father, James Charles Kelt,
and on the beach as a young boy, possibly at Rockcliffe, Dumfriesshire

There is some confusion as to why he did not do French and German as expected. He maintained he turned up on the wrong day and ended up sitting an examination in Geography. 

Photoshoot, 1950s-style, possibly before attending the University of Edinburgh

Whatever the truth of the matter, he developed a passion for Anthropology and Psychology alongside the main subject, as well as playing rugby for the university. There was a rumour about a police helmet stolen on The Mound that had pride of place on his wardrobe, but it was probably scurrilous.

Mum and Dad married in February of, um, 1954. Mum was a
drama student, hence the spoof horror moment in the
graveyard. But where? I don't know that tower ...

At the time, he also developed an interest in ‘film noir’ and the books of Raymond Chandler. He married while still a student, and a year later, after I was born, was immediately required to complete his National Service upon graduation. Never one for authority and pointless rules and regulations, he hated conscription with a vengeance, often being reprimanded for a series of practical jokes and stunts. 

Sergeant Kelt (first row, left), looking unconvinced at officialdom
Dad was based in Wales, while
Mum was in Oswestry. Tricky.

On completion of his service, he left his home country like many Scots and found work in England in the early 1960s and landed a post as a geography teacher in a tough, inner city school in Bootle. We moved to Southport, and soon he managed to find a job there. He was firm but fair and popular with boys and staff. The geography trips with Mr Kelt were legendary. 

The glamorous wedding reception of
my late Aunt Evelyn and
the occasion of my first posh frock

Our family holidays were always spent in Scotland, partly out of duty. He loved the place, but had never travelled anywhere else. We trundled up the long, arduous route of the A6 to Dumfries, and then began the further trek to Bettyhill, where his parents spent the summer. For me, as an only child, the journeys were long, but it did mean that I learned the knack of reading in a moving vehicle. No mp3s in those days.

Sandy Hill: I once found a rock there encrusted
with garnets. Epic, but true

Never having been abroad once, he was struck by the spirit of adventure and in the late 1960s took us off to southern Spain on one of the first “package deals”. He relished the continental lifestyle and became a bon viveur overnight. He also fell in love with the country – the language, the culture, the people. It inspired his first book, written during the latter years of the Cold War, when the country was on the brink of a post-Franco era. 

I also got the Spanish bug and ended up doing a couple of degrees in Spanish and translation work. As I read the book, I had an extraordinary feeling of déjà vu. Many scenes are inspired by that first trip; the bars and cafés, the pot-holed roads, the lack of suspension in the cheap hire cars, the empty beaches, the naval base. I even recognise our favourite waiter (Juan, of course) in the role of Félix.

Suave in his suit, my Dad relished the Spanish lifestyle

Back in the real world,  he continued to play golf and watch rugby. Despite his long hours, reading was always a passion and he was always so interested in whatever subject I was studying. I can't even recall how many times he offered to test me on my homework, especially Spanish. We would often sit and read together.

This is me, with the latest Lady Di
haircut, probably reading some
obscure 17th-century Spanish text

By the time I left home for university, he had parted from a stormy relationship with his first wife. He took early retirement and began writing (and playing some serious golf) in earnest.

Hesketh Golf Club was a home from home,
but putting required the deepest concentration
It has to be said that I myself posted the letter of resignation. He typed it out ... then dithered. We went for a walk to talk it through. In the end, I had to post the letter for him – for luck. I was probably as nervous as he was.

My wonderful stepmother Maggie with Dad and me on the old leather couch
at Rawlinson Road, one rollicking Christmas, possibly late 1980s.
 If my husband Rob were the photographer, I suspect he's just said
something hugely rude which evidently amused us all.

His later years were punctuated with happy trips to France and Spain with Maggie, his beloved second wife. Their favourite spot was Cadaqués in northern Spain. 

Sunshine, pipe, gin and tonic

My father died of a sudden illness in 1992. He didn’t get any books published in his lifetime, but we got there in the end.

Cheers, Dad. Next round's on me.

By Pamela Kelt

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