Friday, 22 April 2011


Posted by Tania Kindersley.

I wondered whether to say this. There are some things, after all, that are private. But it is already on the Racing Post website. It is not a secret. It is not something that just the family do know.

My darling old dad has gone.

I hate euphemisms, generally. Normally, I say a spade is a spade is a spade. But dead is suddenly a horrid bleak word. So I say: he has gone. I don't yet quite believe it, whatever word there is for it. I can't quite understand a world without him in it.

There will be words written about him, in the next few days. There should be words written about him. The racing people will remember him well. He rode horses and trained horses and backed horses. He was a crazy horseman, to his bones. My mother used to say: he bought these big, clumsy Irish horses with feet like soup plates, and I had to watch while they put their bloody great big feet in the bottom of the open ditch.

He broke his back and his neck twice, and the men in white coats looked at him sternly and said: you must never sit on a horse again. A year later, in quiet defiance, he was riding in the Grand National. A newspaper featured him in the leader column. It said: mad, you may say; reckless, you may declare; but there is one thing to add - what tremendous guts.

He had so many gifts. I remember meeting people who had encountered him only once, twenty years before. When they heard my surname, and put two and two together, their eyes would start to sparkle. Oh, oh, they would say; yes, yes, Gay. He had the capacity, quite rare in humans, to light up a room. He did it without even trying.

Maybe the thing I cherish most in him is that he was not conventional. It was not that he did not do things by the book, it was that he did not even know there was a book. That was the gift he gave his children. We all have gone our own way, because he offered us the rare present of no expectations. He did not expect us to have two point two children or work in regular jobs or sit up straight or even follow in his footsteps. He let us go our own way, which is a lovely bequest.

He taught me, without ever saying any of it out loud, simply by example, many things. I may write about some of those, in the days to come. But the one I value most, which I can say now, is this most important one:

He never judged any person by class, or cash, or colour, or creed. He loved people who made him laugh, and if they could do that, he did not care if they were dukes or dustmen.

That is a magnificent legacy. In the next days, there will be people who will remember the Irish songs, the naughty jokes, the eccentric drinking. He was very good at taking the young under his wing. A raw fellow would arrive in Lambourn, some assistant trainer, knowing nothing, and Dad would buy him a drink and make him feel at home. Some of them would go on and train a Derby winner. But my father would not really care about that. It was the laughter than he loved. That is the thing I shall remember.

I think of him now, laughing and laughing, until tears fell down his cheeks, at some obscure joke. Oh, he would say, wiping his cheeks, his shoulders heaving up and down like a cartoon character, oh yes.

My papa, my dad, my Fa: Gay Kindersley, 1930 -2011.



  1. I'm so sorry for your loss. What a wonderful tribute to him.

  2. Love and warmth and happy memories and healing grief to you & yours. And great virtual hugs.

  3. My darling one - I'm never really sure what to say at a time like this. Just know that my heart is with you and all who love/loved your father. And in the next few days, be watching for that lone bird who comes to sit on the garden fence or who's perched in a tree close by - just watching over you. xxx

  4. There are people in this world who remind us how to live, by living their own lives wonderfully. What an honour and inspiration to be able to call one of them, dad.

    I am so very sorry he has gone. Thank you for sharing him with us. You are very much in my thoughts. x

  5. Thank you for sharing with us. I am sorry for your loss and happy for everything you gained in knowing him.

  6. My sympathies with you and your family. Both posts are a wonderful tribute to your Dad. God Bless you and the family.

  7. So sorry for your loss. Glad you have such wonderful photographs to remember him by.

  8. Dear Tania,
    Death, even when expected, always comes as a terrible shock. I am sure you must be suffering. Sending love to you. Thank you for sharing some of the stories of his incredible life with us. What an amazing man he was.
    Take care of yourself. Big hugs.

  9. So sorry to hear about your father. "What survives of us is love".


  10. Oh, Tania, I am so so sorry. I know you are a stranger really (although in my mind you are a friend - after all I read the blog every day and that is more communication, albeit one-sided, than I have with most people frankly) but I feel as sad for you as I would for any friend losing a parent - actually quite weepy. From the few things you had said about your dad previously he sounded so marvellous (and fun!) and someone who anyone would be lucky to know.
    I will be thinking of you.

  11. I am so sorry Tania - for your loss. Late night posts of the most wonderful words you could say about your Dad - what a legacy he left in you. Like other commenters - hard to know what to say other than, keep strong in coming days, remember the good like you have here and know that the pain you feel will fade over time. Lou x

  12. Oh Tania, I'm so very very sad and sorry to read this news. From the little bits you've already written of him I have the most wonderful picture of him in my mind.
    I lost my darling Dad when I was seventeen, he'd lived such a life...all over the world. He was always my hero, faults and all, but it was in the days and weeks after he was gone that I began to realise how loved he was by so many others, and it is quite clear that your dearest Dad certainly was too. So although nothing I can say will truly help, remember love and laughter. Remember Dad.
    I'm thinking of you.

  13. I'm so sorry. He sounds like he was a wonderful man and a fantastic father, who lived a wonderful life bringing joy to a lot of people...

    I wish I had better words to express my condolences.

  14. Tania- I am thinking of you and your Fa- I send my love and condolences to you. Much Love, shayma

  15. I'm so sorry to hear about your loss. You're very fortunate to have had such a lovely—and lively—man for your father. If I lived a bit closer, I'd bring you some soup and a cake.

    Stay magical. Part of him will always live on in you and the others he touched.

    "Your mouth closes here and immediately opens with a shout of joy there." ~Rumi


  16. So sorry to hear your sad news, Tania. My mother passed away just over a month ago now and I feel rather strange quite a lot of the time. Grief is indeed a very mysterious thing and hits us all in very different ways. Wishing you patience, courage and peace, space and time to reflect and grieve, over this next while.

  17. Tania - your warm words brought a stranger to life for me. I too lost my father recently. You are surrounded by loving friends and family and I trust this brings you comfort. Allow yourself time to grieve.

  18. Dear Tania, I'm so sorry. Your wonderful words made me cry. What an incredible and brilliantly unconventional life he had.

    My dear dad is the same age. You know it's going to happen but you never know how you'll feel when it does.

    Much love and thinking of you xxx

  19. Dear Tania,
    Sincerest sympathies for your loss. Your dad sounds like he was a lovely man, very bold and a true original.

    I lost my own dear dad almost 15 years ago. He was quite elderly and had lived a full life but that didn't stop it feeling like it was too soon and I still miss him terribly. I think it is always too soon, regardless of how old we, or they, are.

    Wishing you comfort in the days ahead.

  20. I'm so sorry for your loss. What lovely words, as always. He sounds completely wonderful. Take care.

  21. Oh, Tania. I am so very sorry. Your words have always made him sound like a wonderful friend and father. Take care of yourself. I'll be thinking of you.

  22. I've been away and only just seen this. So very sad for you loss. This is a beautiful tribute.


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