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.