Albert Clifford Walker filleting fish on Grimsby docks circa 1960s, (2011), oil on linen, 90 x 120 cm2011
My father (1908-72) worked on the fish docks in Grimsby from the age of 14 until his death from diabetes at the age of 64, apart from a spell in the army during WW2 in which he was dispatched to invade Norway. At first Albert was reluctant to work on the docks - he wanted to be a footballer instead - but after his father was killed in WW1 his mother Lily insisted he took a job there to help the family income. Eventually, he became a partner in a firm called Pearce & Walker. Naturally, he wanted me to join him on the docks but the severe cold and the smell of fish put me off. In any case, I desired to be an artist and to leave Grimsby. On the docks he wore leather and wooden clogs that stank so badly they had to be left in the garden shed when he returned home. I once asked him how he could plunge his hands into barrels of ice to retrieve fish for filleting. He bade me feel his hands and they were burning hot - somehow his body had compensated. My father was a hard-working, kind, generous, loving and trusting person and avid supporter of the Grimsby Town football team - The Mariners. It was a privilege to have known him. My portrait of him was intended as a small act of homage and gratitude.
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