A Storyville documentary: film-maker Morgan Matthews records a period of more than ten years in the life of his father Geoff and Geoff's eccentric partner Anna.
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This film contains strong language
He can probably still hear us.
Can you hear me, Dad?
Can you hear?
Me and Miranda are here, Dad.
'My name is Morgan Matthews.
'I'm a film-maker.
'This is me in 2005, driving to see my dad,
'who I hadn't seen in over a year.
'Dad wasn't very good at keeping in touch,
'and perhaps like many fathers and sons,
'we didn't always communicate very well.
'I decided to go and meet him with my camera,
'in the hope of reconnecting.'
How are you doing? Not bad.
The old car made it?
Uh-huh. It's done well.
Better come in for a beer, I think.
Probably need one. How are you doing?
All right. It's great to see you. I've missed you.
'I didn't know it at the time,
'but filming with Dad would become a way of maintaining a relationship
'between us, and I would spend the next ten years recording through the
'trials and tribulations of his life and death.'
Come and get yourself a beer.
Following you around with a camera.
Do you mind? Not at all.
A bit odd, isn't it? No, it's all right.
That's a pigeon.
One of the doves that was attacked by a sparrowhawk.
He can't fly.
Anyway, he's perfectly happy in there and he's very fond of his dad.
You're the big pigeon, aren't you, eh?
Go on, stretch your wings.
There you go. Oh, he's talking. PIGEON COOS
'Whilst Dad seemed to be caring for increasing numbers of animals,
'he had become distant from all six of his children.'
Right, my big dog, what are you doing?
What are you doing, big dog?
There's a lot of stuff, isn't there?
Yeah, it will be a nightmare, won't it, packing it and moving it?
You want to see the attic.
I haven't started on that yet.
So, I've done all the books and everything, and...
put the computer back in here where it should be.
But...you know, I've been working quite hard, really,
trying to get the place together.
So you can sell it? Oh, yeah, purely to sell it.
'In the previous years,
'Dad had got into severe financial trouble and had recently lost his
'part-time job at the local university.
'He was now being forced to sell the house that belonged to his partner,
'my stepmother, Anna.'
Should really clean the floor,
but that's about as good as it gets in the time we've got.
It's a bit of a panic, isn't it?
Well, we've... This is, I think the eighth or ninth visit
and, of course, you have to go round and...
clean the place up as best you can for every visit.
Come in, please.
And welcome. So, downstairs cloakroom.
Yes. A pretty good-sized cupboard under there with a lamp in it.
This is where it all goes pear-shaped,
because the window cleaners were in a week ago. Uh-huh.
Cleaned the windows on the flat roof
and you know the first rain we had yesterday? Yeah.
They've trod on it. We've got a leak, so...
If you are... There's no point in disguising it.
You know, it's a bloody leak.
We'll go to the disaster area first.
Right. The estate agent said, "In need of some attention,"
so this is where it's in need of some attention.
This is a beautiful room.
It's a sad story.
Anna's stepson had a problem...
a couple of years back and actually threatened to kill Anna,
but in the process of having his problem,
he smashed this door. Oh, right.
And he also, with a hammer, smashed the washbasin and the bath.
Look where you walk, because we have three dogs and...
I need not say any more.
There's no broadband here as yet.
How do you think that went?
As well as can be expected.
I don't know if it's the best idea to draw attention to...
the bad things like
Philip smashing up the room and things like that.
Well, it's there and you can see it,
so I mean it probably needs an explanation.
After inheriting her family home without a mortgage,
my stepmother, Anna, had never had a conventional job.
Now she faced losing everything.
The cards seem to have quite an uncanny relevance
to our circumstances as they have been and are at present.
And that card very much represents anger, and quite a lot of it.
It says that something has caused me enormous emotional...
A deep emotional torment and upset and depression, if you like.
And loss, a sense of loss and, I feel, a serious amount of anger.
And I feel as if my world is in suspension.
There's a crisis coming.
And then some beer.
In terms of what you've got coming in, Dad, moneywise,
how are you getting by?
Now that the...
university job sort of ended a bit suddenly,
there is nothing coming in.
There is no income at all.
The mortgage should go out at about 3,000.
There are various standing orders which I think...
amount to just about 1,000 a month.
And there's sort of a day-to-day living and eating
and feeding the animals,
which is, at a minimum, probably 1,000 a month.
So, I've got to clear ?5,000 every month to stay in and live in the
house we're living in.
I know we're a bit stupid.
We probably spend at least as much money feeding the dogs and cats
as we do on feeding ourselves.
Spot of choccy?
I offered her some Cadbury's or something like that once.
She sniffed it very delicately and said...
"You don't expect me to eat that?
"It's cheap and nasty."
So, we get Tesco's Finest
with little bits of orange flavouring in it.
And I mustn't give them too much more,
otherwise he'll vomit or something.
They've got expensive tastes, the dogs?
They have expensive tastes, the dogs.
We're going bunny fucking.
What does that mean?
It means chasing bunnies and trying to fuck them.
As in, polish them off.
But we don't often get that lucky, but we sometimes do.
You've always lived round here, Anna?
Yes. And I've always had connections and roots here.
I discovered that the direct line goes back to an entry,
I think, in 1535 in Parish Records.
Gilliamus and Benjaminus Kelsey.
I think we grew barley and went into brewing,
and gradually, sort of, moved over to Birmingham and...
had the brewery there, and it sort of slowly grew.
It's somewhere I wouldn't want to say goodbye to, really.
I know it sounds stupid,
but I should like to be buried here somewhere.
I should like to become a part of something...
..am already a part of.
Oh, dear. Anyway...
Collecting dust for a while.
Whilst Anna's family had owned a brewery,
Dad had been adopted into a family of farm labourers
who picked hops for a living.
But he was a bright boy and won a place at grammar school,
then went on to study car design at the Royal College of Art.
That's about 1972.
It was called the Talbot Alpine.
After leaving the Royal College,
Dad embarked on a career as a hotshot young car designer.
He came up with the concept for the first people carrier,
the Renault Espace.
My original drawings for the Espace.
And then landed the top design job at Citroen in France.
I actually inherited a department of
64 Frenchmen, that was my department,
and every single one of them was older than I was.
And I wasn't the most popular person in the world...for them.
You know, some...
young, long-haired Englishmen telling them what to do.
It didn't go down very well at all, I'm afraid.
After parting company with Citroen,
Dad set up his own vehicle design business.
When we were running Geoff Matthews Design,
we made a very good living building cars for Bentley,
for the Sultan of Brunei.
The best year, I think we turned over ?3.4 million.
We went down from, like, 3.4 million a year turnover
to something like less than a million a year,
just at the point that we'd invested in...
10,000 square feet of commercial property.
The biggest tragedy, of course, is that when Anna met me,
there was no mortgage on the house.
And she allowed it to be successively remortgaged
to try and keep the company alive but, of course, as you know,
the money was poured into the company
and effectively down the drain.
Eventually, Dad lost his business and was left with the responsibility
of a huge mortgage on Anna's house that he couldn't pay.
It's the end of the road, really.
I could be stacking shelves at Sainsbury's, you know?
I mean, that's the truth.
That's the way it's going to go, I think.
That's a bit big, isn't it?
It falls out between your teeth if it's too big.
Times have been very difficult recently, haven't they, financially?
Oh, yes, frightful.
What's it been like? Hm? What's it been like?
I suppose it's the worrying and stuff, but...
I mean, as long as I've got a fag and a spot of vodka...
I can survive.
You know, I can live in my head.
But how do you feel about the prospect of losing the house?
Well, it's not a prospect, it's a certainty.
I don't want to say anything cruel about your father,
apart from the odd comment that he can't hold his drink,
I'm genuinely very deeply fond of him.
He's basically a good man.
I had one of the best careers in the motor industry.
I was the high-flyer,
I was in the top two people at the age of 35,
and all I needed to do, I had to butter up to people.
Butter up to people who were, on paper, my bosses,
who were intellectually shallow, stupid and ignorant.
But if I could only have said, "Yes, sir. No, sir. Three bags full, sir,"
I could have retired
four years ago at the age of 55
on two thirds of a golden salary.
And I can't do that.
I couldn't do it.
You know, where would I get my self-respect
and my self-esteem from?
Which is probably the only thing that carries me through
my effective bankruptcy.
I thought there were two bottles of vodka that Geoff...
Well, you very kindly appear to have got.
Am I right or wrong? Were there two bottles like that?
..was started last night and...
..the other one seems to have disappeared.
It doesn't really matter, but I just wondered what had happened to it,
because nobody seems to be sort of...
Unless your dad took it upstairs with him, which is always possible,
I suppose. I think if you go upstairs, you'll find it.
That's probably... Probably what has happened to it.
Yes, yes, you're right.
I think I can actually tell because of the way he's moving about.
Oh, dear, Morgan.
I wish we'd have been closer.
I love you.
Don't be upset.
You're the best boy.
I wish I could have talked to you...
in many ways.
You could have given me a call.
Well, I try and... HE MUMBLES
I think you're amazing.
And I don't need to do anything.
You know, you've done everything you've...
Well...I did have...
You know, you helped me out.
No, I haven't. You helped me out when I was a student.
You did. No, I didn't.
Are you all right, Dad?
No, I'm not all right.
I know, but...
You know, this is fucking painful.
I do hope he hasn't drunk it all.
Oh, please, God, don't let him have drunk at all.
Does it bother you, though, now?
What, him getting arse-holed? Yeah.
It depends what he says when he is.
Yes, it does bother me because A,
I think it's incredibly bad for him because it frightens me the amount
that he drinks, and he gets offensive.
Not a little bit offensive, or ever so slightly, kind of...
I mean offensive. Big time.
I mean, your dad, fortunately, doesn't...
do that quite so often now, thank Christ.
He does do it sometimes, which is... Do what?
You've seen him do it.
You know what I'm talking about.
A few drinks...
and then he throws a funny.
Dad would drink every night and his behaviour when he was drunk
was one of the main reasons
I'd stopped having so much contact with him.
He came very close to me ending it several times and I'd be talking to
somebody and we'd have friends round or something,
and then he'd start another drink, and then he'd suddenly turn on his
heel, he'd come up to me and he says, "You fucking bitch!
"You stupid piece of shit!"
It was all madness.
Bearing in mind the number of viewings we've had,
the number of times we've advertised,
I'm slightly disappointed by the number of people
who've actually been to look.
Having had an offer at 620... Yes.
..against a guide price of 695... Yes.
..it may be that we can go back and split the difference
between her initial offer and the guide price
and our initial expectations.
What we get out of this place
is what we're left with to buy something else
and you're fully aware that with the size of mortgage we've got,
that, say we get 200,000,
you know you can't get much for 200,000,
but we still have to consider our future as,
you know, in terms of the money...
At the end of the day, you've got one chance to sell it. Yes.
And so you've got to make sure that you sell it
for the very best possible price. Yes.
I'm afraid what you need...
Yes. ..doesn't actually enter into...
Her equation. ..her equation.
No, no, I quite understand.
So, what's that saying? Saying yes.
It's what it is. What is it?
What it is, it says it is.
See, look, it's saying, "That's what it is," it says.
What is it? Well, it's a little mushroom and as a little mushroom...
Have you ever eaten these, Anna?
But not often.
Are they hallucinogenic?
I don't know. Otherwise known as magic mushrooms.
You can call them...
You can't get much magic out of anything these days.
Oh, fuck, I've run out of drink.
I'm just trying to...
It's nice to see you two in the same room together.
It's, you know... We often are.
Yeah, we are, believe it or not.
But we do try and avoid each other mostly.
So, there you have it from the arse's mouth, as it were.
GEOFF LAUGHS THEN COUGHS
That's the main reason for this circular architecture, because you
can actually be in one room and someone says, "Where are you?"
And you say, "Here," and you keep hopping round this circle.
Well, I mean, the "Here," as far as I'm concerned,
you might just as well not bother to answer.
You can avoid each other for years, you know?
Is that true? Is that really what you think?
No. We're not like that.
I only avoid him when he's drunk. And that's true.
Sometimes you seem...
..you know, quite separate sometimes.
We are, in many ways.
But that's... It's probably my fault.
I tend to... When I'm depressed or miserable or whatever,
I tend to go into myself, I tend to...
I don't communicate with people,
because I work on the theory that what's the point of, you know,
burdening other people with your miseries?
There's nothing they can do about it and you don't really want to hear
their solutions, because they don't actually mean anything and they are,
you know, just...
somebody making a noise just to make you feel better, which it doesn't.
So I tend to keep it to myself.
They've got so big, these, that they've actually split,
some of them have split their skins.
I suppose landing on the floor with a large splat doesn't help.
I'd always been fascinated by Anna and first filmed with her when I was
a student in the mid-90s, shortly after she got together with Dad.
They met in the local pub
and lived quite extravagantly when things were good.
I'd never met anyone like Anna before
and was intrigued by her complex family background.
They say families can be full of surprises
and I suppose mine's no exception.
In the sense that the man I understood from childhood
who was my father
turns out that he was my grandfather.
I was led to believe was my biological mother was in fact
no blood relation whatsoever, and I refer to her as Violet Emma.
This is the woman who is meant to be my mother,
the woman I was told was my mother.
She's holding a baby, which I...
I'm pretty sure it's me.
And I hold this over her...
and it's saying no.
For many months after her death, you know, she haunted the place.
I'm not joking.
I decided to exorcise it.
I've never done an exorcism before.
And I'll tell you what, it's very strange.
It worked. It never came back.
It wasn't a good relationship then?
No, it wasn't a good relationship.
I mean, she never liked me from... Well, she never liked me.
In fact, she hated me.
Fortunately, I had a nanny and all that type of thing, so I wasn't
much or often at her mercy.
But there were times when there was days off and things like that.
So she would...
attack me on those occasions.
Hair pulling, biting. Stuff like that.
Anyway, now I want to clean my teeth and I prefer to do that in private.
I suppose on paper, you know, your family were relatively wealthy.
I mean, they weren't, you know, the Guinnesses, but they were OK.
Whereas Dad's family were farm labourers, weren't they?
Yeah, but your dad's family weren't.
They were his adoptive parents and that's where it gets interesting.
Whilst Dad and Anna had come from very different backgrounds,
they had in common the fact that neither of them
knew who their parents were.
He was like...
the signet in the duck's nest.
He was incredibly bright and when he went to school,
they thought, "He's only a piss-poor labourer's son."
And that is not diminishing Geoff's adopted father,
who was absolutely sterling.
Your father was something and he is something.
He's very, very bright.
And it was as if he knew he was something else.
Hm? Can you just give the dog a nudge?
Just leave the fucking dog snoring.
It's a dog, the only thing he does is fucking snore.
Leave him snoring.
You know, don't wind him out, he's part of the family.
All right. Whatever it is.
Whatever the family is.
What is the family?
The family is...
The people who like me
are my family.
Of Dad's six children,
my sister and I were from his first marriage to our mother,
whilst our three half-brothers and half-sister
came from a second marriage, before he met Anna.
Over the years, he'd become estranged from us all.
Maximilian, Mark Andrew,
Mitchell and Michelle.
And they think...
..the old man's a...
You know, may be a piece of shit...
but I love those kids.
It was Mitchell's birthday yesterday.
He was 16.
Yeah, I made a terrible mistake, I forgot about it.
I haven't got it in my head.
I tried to maintain a contact with the children,
but the phone number never changed, my mobile number never changed.
And did any of them bother?
No, they didn't.
And that hurts.
That will hurt forever.
That's the other side of the story.
# All masonic hearts to meet you
# Hands of fellowship to greet you
# May our welcome here today
# Help to cheer you on your way. #
The ladies. CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
Hooray! The ladies.
..All that type of thing. Ladies, gentlemen, brethren....
Oh, yes, my list. BANGING
Ladies, gentlemen and brethren, to respond to the toast to the ladies,
Mrs Anna Matthews would be delighted to reply.
But you've just said... APPLAUSE
You've just said all the people that you told me to say.
Well, it says, "Worshipful master, brother wardens, ladies, gentlemen,
"brethren." I think that's sort of gentlemen comma brethren.
Anyway, all I really want to say is how really delighted we are,
especially Geoff, that...
I knew I'd make a cock up of it.
But anyway, really delighted we are to see you all here.
You've probably heard more than enough,
so I'll sit down and let you get on with it.
Have I done the right thing? APPLAUSE
I thank Anna for being so brief.
It allows me to tell one or two stories.
Which she's not expecting.
So we went to buy a Hoover together and we went into Comet, and we had a
very young salesman in a suit.
And Anna said she didn't want one with all the frills and bits on it,
she just wanted a very strong hoover.
And the gentleman said,
"Well, how do you define a strong hoover, madam?"
And she said, "Well, I think it's one that will suck up
"a semi-dried dog's turd
"without it sticking to the pipe."
What do you think about Dad?
He's irritating, he drinks too much and he's unreasonable.
He's a bit mad and he gets over-sentimental
and says the wrong things or too much of the right things,
which will turn them into an embarrassment.
He does that sort of thing.
But he's brave, he's true,
he's better than pretty much anybody I know alive at the moment.
And he's fucking brilliant.
That's what I think about your father.
And I love him...for all that.
I think you once filmed me on the floor of the bathroom,
absolutely in tears, trying to explain that Anna
had given me all she'd got
and that included her inheritance of her house.
And I think even through my tears, whatever you thought of them,
I said, "I will endeavour...
"to pay it back and give her something very special."
I've found a solution to give something back.
And that is the most important thing in the world to me.
Dad had finally managed to sell the house
just before it was repossessed.
He'd also got some work with a motley crew of guys
who were trying to hand-build a prototype
for a new British sports car.
The company had won a grant to relocate to Wales.
So it was time for a fresh start.
The plan is that we leave one bedroom alone.
OK. And I've got a very wild cat
and I'm keeping the door shut because of the cat.
It won't hurt you, but if it sees you, it will run away and then I'll
never catch it. So there's an end bedroom
and I've got two guns in there,
so leave that alone, I'll sort that.
I'll unscrew it and sort it.
Some of this is pretty valuable.
That's off a World War I German aeroplane.
Really? That Anna's grandfather shot down.
That's the actual bit of the aeroplane. Yeah? Yeah.
This always feels a bit strange, doesn't it?
In what way? Well, you know...
..picking up and starting again.
But it's a nice start.
It's something that's good and something to look forward to.
Good luck. Thanks a lot.
'With only a small deposit left after selling the house
'for much less than he'd hoped for,
'Dad had somehow managed to get a very large mortgage
'on a farmhouse in South Wales.'
So, what do you reckon?
It's not a huge house but it's really quite pretty.
But isn't it brilliant?
There's even a lavvy there.
Despite losing her family home, Anna seemed upbeat about the move.
I'm not sure what that is.
This spot is just beautiful.
I love it.
And the isolation of it, Anna...?
That's what I like.
Why is it that? Why is it that you like that?
I just don't like other people much.
Neighbours, and, "Oh, you got a new car..."
I don't mind, I'll talk to people,
but I'm just not that interested in having them on my doorstep.
And this is wonderful.
Oh, look at her. She is happy.
Yeah, that's the sign of Ezzie being happy.
Ezzie is jolly happy.
Morgan, look. Ezzie is happy. Ezzie being happy.
Well, we're here. We made it.
Yeah, it was difficult, wasn't it?
But we're here. It's not going to be easy now we are here,
by the look of it.
We're going to have to do some serious wall bashing, I think.
Never mind. We can do it, can't we?
You are happy? Oh, I'm really happy.
Once he moved to Wales, Dad and I have become distant again.
He only seemed to call when he needed money.
And since the car company he worked for had gone bust,
he was in financial trouble again.
Hi, big fella. How you doing, Dad?
All right. Good as can be expected.
Good to see you.
So how have things been? Well, it's tough, I can tell you.
I mean, it's a year now since I've been out of work.
And I've dragged us through this far
but it's getting tougher and tougher,
I can tell you, financially.
So there is...
If I can't find a solution, there is a serious risk
that we get another house repossessed.
That's how tough it is, really.
Do you think you might lose the house?
Yeah, but don't tell Anna yet.
I don't appear to have anything stuck to me.
Are you picking up my...
Just about. On the top mic, yeah.
Oh, yes, I missed that furry thing.
Your hair is a lot longer, Anna, since I last saw you.
Yes, it grows.
Once I started having that, what do you call it, replacement thingy.
Thyroid stuff, it took off.
And it keeps growing.
It was probably, considering her health,
it was probably a pretty bad choice,
in that we're up the top of a very steep hill,
which neither of us can walk up any more.
But we've had
three and a half years here being very happy together.
Apart from health miseries and money miseries,
but the actual place is charming, absolutely charming.
After years of smoking a pipe,
Dad had developed emphysema and was finding any physical work difficult.
Most of Anna's possessions from the old house remained unpacked.
Yeah, so you can see...
You know, the sort of...
They are all packed up,
they are all there but you can see that they've been there
for three and a half years. And they are sinking into each other.
If this chest does get worse, I'm not leaving Anna with an absolute
nightmare of stuff that she can't manage and can't unpack.
So that's the theory.
But you're starting to worry about what might happen
with you if you are not around?
Yeah. Because it's...
you know, Anna's strong and has got a strong character,
but just to leave her with...
..what could turn out to be a huge
pile of shit, the longer you leave it there,
you know, I don't feel good about that.
So what can I do or where can I start, then?
Oh, yeah, I can give you lots of jobs.
One thing really is to sort out if there's stuff that you can sell off
to make a little bit of money to
help pay the mortgage, really.
Oh, there's an alpaca.
Why did you get alpacas, Dad?
Anna always wanted a couple.
Oh, they're coming to see us.
They're from Peru, I think, originally.
Why did Anna want a couple?
I don't know. She just fancied... She likes the look of them.
Come on then, big fella.
But do they do anything, Dad?
No, they're decorative.
Is it difficult, Dad, walking...
..any kind of distance now?
Oh, yeah. Yeah.
When I'm not carrying anything,
and providing I go slowly, I can walk.
But I mean, I shall probably have to stop before we get...
Well, just stop and have a pause at each fence,
just to get a bit more oxygen in the lungs.
So these are the portable cylinders.
Which you can put in a knapsack and wear them on your back.
This one generates oxygen out of the air.
And then that stops
and then you just put these up your nostrils.
Like that. How often are you using that?
I use this most nights, to help me get to sleep.
And I sleep down here on there.
Because it saves me going upstairs,
so I just come in here and flop down on there.
Quite often sat up with my head resting on the cushion
because that's the least stress on my chest, you know?
Are we allowed to film the smoking?
You can...film the smoking and the coughing.
I'm just thinking that if some medical person saw it, they might...
Are you not supposed to be smoking?
I shouldn't smoke, because every time I smoke
I reduce the capacity of my lungs.
Which hastens death.
I'm off to bed.
Good night, my darling. Night-night.
Thank you for making such a lovely day out of today.
And thank you too, Geoff.
Thank you very much.
Night, Dad. Night-night, big boy.
How long do you have to stay like that, Dad?
I shall fall asleep like this...
and then I'll wake up in a couple of hours
and probably have to have a pee
and then I shall try and get back to sleep again.
Whilst things were pretty ominous on the health and financial front,
there had been some significant news about our family history.
What about... We haven't talked
about the major development yet, have we?
Becoming old and decrepit?
That's the most major development.
We is decrepit. We're fucked.
I would assume you're referring to my biological father.
Oh, that? Oh, that was a clever guess.
No, we haven't talked about that, which is very recent.
It happened within the last couple of weeks.
Having found the name of the man we
believe to be Dad's biological father in some old papers,
my sister had done some detective work and discovered that he was a
Canadian veteran of the Second World War,
and what's more - he was still alive.
He's quite famous
in many respects
and he's well-known and...
He's a war veteran, a war hero,
and has worked all his life and has been chairman of this,
that and the other. He's absolutely someone to be proud of.
That's only happened within the last three weeks or so.
My eldest daughter has written him a letter
and at the end it just asks...
..if you are interested, we are here,
and if you're not interested please let us know.
But probably the most important thing in my life at the moment
is just trying to fucking survive.
And that's true.
Whether it's for health or finance or whatever reason,
I'm trying to survive.
GRAND CLASSICAL MUSIC
I've got that terrible picture of your dad,
just losing it and waiting for the ambulance to come.
I don't mean losing it...
He just couldn't breathe.
I couldn't do anything.
And I know it sounds the most selfish, terrible thing in the world
but I just wanted somebody else to take responsibility for it
because I didn't know how long I'd be able to hang in there
and get him to hang in there.
And that was frightening.
And then, you know...oh...
With Dad in hospital,
my sister Miranda and Anna's sister Jan came to Wales to rally round.
The thing is, there's a lot of people in the house,
and they all talk to me at once.
All want to know something at the same time.
I sort of don't quite get how she can't cope with anything.
What do you mean? Well, I mean, you know,
making a cup of tea for six people.
Don't you think? She does find it hard.
Why do you think that is?
Because she's never had to do anything for herself, really.
Sorry, she was brought up to do nothing.
She was brought up with staff and...
And again, as much as I love her, she's eccentric.
Yeah. What do you think? I think it's difficult.
I mean, I think she's wonderfully eccentric.
And we all love her for that.
I think she's probably quite difficult to be around all the time.
But I also think Dad is...
They work. ..strangely, it works.
I know. I know.
We've run out of dog food.
God, have I got enough spaghetti?
Oh, I've got some noodles I can cook for them.
I mean, it makes me feel peculiar thinking about it.
Shit. I'm sorry.
I think I've got an appointment sometime.
I'm meant to have a blood test taken.
It's not Tuesday... No, I think it's tomorrow.
It's Monday today. Yeah, sorry.
Obviously I don't know if I'm coming,
which way I'm going, whatever.
I wrote it down somewhere.
I'll have to ring the surgery and check.
Help. What's up?
Just trod in dog poo.
Why do you need help for that?
Cos I've got my socks on.
And I need a clean pair of socks.
Take off your socks, Miranda.
Where did you tread in it?
It's there. That's poo, isn't it?
I wouldn't think it's... Come here.
It's all right, it won't kill you.
I just need a different pair of socks.
It's only shit.
The dog only probably ate it last night.
Oh, God. You see what I mean?
I was going to fill a bowl so
Miranda can wash her foot, but I can't sodding find it.
I said, "Please don't throw it out or hide it."
I'm not having a go at anybody,
but has anybody left the tap on upstairs?
I'll check the tap.
I would be grateful because the water is cold.
Nobody has had a bath, have they?
I had a bath this morning. That's all right.
Maybe that's what it is.
There is no tap on.
No. I think we've sourced the cock-up.
What have they done with the cleaning stuff?
You see what I mean?
How long do you think you can stay here?
I'm going to have to go back today.
If Dad is in a stable condition, I'm going to have to go back.
I haven't got any more clothes with me and...
..and...there is my cat, and it's just all a bit nuts.
What do you think about Dad's situation at the moment?
I don't think he's got long.
6 months? 12 months?
I think it's just almost a period for us all to be able to...
It's sad that it gets to this,
but for us all to say goodbye properly and be with him
and let him know how we care and also,
even though Anna drives me mad occasionally,
to let him know that, one way or the other, we'll make sure Anna is OK.
Which is, I know, what he really wants.
Do you want me to take you in to see Dad today, Anna?
I daren't go in...with this...
It really isn't very good.
Oh, for God's sake!
Right. I don't know.
I feel awful not going in.
He must think I'm an unnatural, cold bitch.
But I've got this
awful flu that he's had.
I don't know.
All right, tits, I'm coming.
Can I just fill these up?
So you've been looking after Anna?
She's high maintenance. Yeah.
I don't know how you manage it. I never have.
Let's see how much...
..time we can get out of life together.
What sort of state it will be, you know?
No. I think you've been magic.
You've been an absolute star.
Just ring up Anna now and again and make sure she doesn't get lonely.
And just going on...
..doing what you have been doing,
which has been the biggest help in the world.
Taking a load off of my mind.
Yeah, I think you are right.
Oh, oh, not there. Not there.
I think she's stopped. She's wiping her bottom.
VOICE BREAKING: Hello... Arthur?
Sorry, my voice is... Oh...
Just a minute. Just a second.
Hello. That is a bit better.
Well, yes, that's worrying me.
I haven't been in to see him.
I write him letters and send them.
Not long ones, but little notes,
I try to think of something funny to say.
How are you feeling about coming home now, Dad?
I'm hoping to come home as soon as I can, you know?
I don't want to come out and make life difficult but...
I noticed they've taken all the rest of the vein things out,
so they must be thinking I'm pretty much ready to go.
Shall I get a couple of chairs?
Hello, my darling. Yeah, get a couple of chairs.
You can have the big chair if you want.
I don't mind. Miranda can sit in it.
Thanks, Miranda. There's a big chair.
Do you want a banana?
Everybody keeps offering me bananas.
I feel like Ed Miliband.
How are the doggies?
The doggies, the last time I saw them, which wasn't very long ago,
were in good form.
They are sods, though.
You know the cats like a bit of sprinkle on their food...?
And you remember what sprinkle does to dogs' stomachs?
It liquidises them.
Yeah. But Esme always manages to do a dump,
preferably right in the middle of the bloody road
when there is a bus coming and they have to slow down for her,
and then I never have a bloody bag to pick it up in.
And I just had the idea of two of them doing it...
Anyway, I got her across the road so bloody fast she didn't...
have the time to arrange herself, so...
I shall do my level best to look after your father...
..for as long as I can physically manage it.
Does that frighten you, Anna?
I don't know if it frightens me,
but everybody's life comes to an end and you just have to look at it
squarely in the unpleasant face, if you like.
I'll tell you what does frighten me,
is getting ill and then having to go into hospital
and being treated like a piece of shit.
It just means that I'm going to have to make damn sure
I have enough medication so that if I get...
..ill I can take myself out.
I think that's the only thing you're going to be able to do quite soon.
Because they don't want all these bloody old people.
Not very nice to think about it, though, Anna.
Well, you asked. True.
That's what life is.
And here we've got the welcome.
Welcome from the dogs.
'After the scare of his collapse,
'Dad recovered and came out of hospital.'
So these are Welsh pasties?
Well, they are... What do they call them?
Mushroom and chicken.
In puff pastry. But they're quite nice, you know?
'And after nearly 50 years of smoking,
'he finally gave it up
'and managed to get around and sleep without using his oxygen machine.'
We've got a tootsie here.
'He was also drinking less
'and seemed to have a reasonable quality of life.'
These are the vitamins and stuff,
to try and stop my muscles from shrinking,
but they've already fallen away, so...
You've lost a lot of weight, haven't you?
Yeah. I've lost a stone in about a year.
I was about 9st and I'm now about 8st,
so it's a stone gone in a year.
Dad was also looking into the future and had another car design dream
that he was trying to get off the ground.
The business plan is completely foolproof.
It's based on previous work that I've done with
Bentley Motor Company Limited,
in making very special vehicles for very special people.
So this is just a bit of supplementary food for the alpacas.
They've come down.
Come on, brown boy.
Come on, black boy.
Come on, big boys.
But do you still want to stay here, Dad, now?
Yeah, I do, really.
It's a home together sort of thing.
It's something that's just plain us, really.
For as long as we can stay here, you know,
this is what we like out of life.
I've been in since Thursday now.
I fought my way back, as you know, two years eight months ago.
I had this very serious intensive care thing
with the breathing problem and then, I think it was April,
I was diagnosed with prostate cancer.
With a minor area in the left hip
and lower back of bone cancer.
Then they did another bone cancer thing,
and it had spread like buggery.
It had spread to hips, pelvis, lower spine and even,
during the course of last year, when I coughed a lot,
I'd cracked two or three ribs,
and that's cos it was in the rib, you know.
It might only be three years and it might be a bit less
if it really suddenly takes off again.
But they're not telling you that, you know.
There's quite a few things I've got to do in my life
before that time is up, sort of thing.
Well, I've got to sort Anna out properly
and I really want to...
..make my peace with some of the other kids.
You and me are mostly all right.
I hardly ever see Mark or Mitchell.
But I'll fight it.
I'll find a way.
'His life is on an edge.
'One thing has to go wrong and he'll die.'
And you know that.
Well, I don't know if I did know that.
Well, you do now. I think I came here thinking
he was sort of taken in for observation
and then I saw him and he was much iller than I, er...
Well, perhaps I'd put too pretty a gloss on it.
No. I was trying not to wind you up,
but I was also trying to tell you
that you haven't got your darling dad for long.
You know, I don't want to be without him either.
But I mean, obviously, you know,
we're not spring chickens and somebody is going to die.
Although my health isn't wonderful, it's not going to kill me.
It's bloody painful.
I can hardly walk about, but it's not going to kill me.
But what's wrong with him will.
And so I suspect that I'm going to lose him.
The first person in your family to go to university and...
..got a first in engineering.
And then did something...
..just amazingly creative by going into car design after that.
I can remember just little things that you made me
when I was a little girl,
like the little piano you made me out of wood,
and you drew the piano keys on it.
And I can remember the little shop that you made me
with the little clay bits of food...
..and just little toys that he made me out of wood.
And there was that picture of Harry the starling
on Mum's finger, which...
It was really important to me and I...
Made it into wallpaper to cover the whole of the room, for my degree.
Because it was that important to me.
..such a lot from my childhood.
There were so many important, sweet, little, funny, creative things
that we got from you.
We wouldn't be who we are if it hadn't been for you.
So that's really important.
You gave us our lives.
I'm here, Dad.
Me and Miranda are here, Dad.
We love you, Dad.
We do love you very much, Dad.
We love you.
Yeah, I'm with Dad now and he's...
He's just passed away.
It just happened very quickly.
Miranda and me were both with him.
We were talking to him, holding his hand and...
And then his breathing, he just stopped breathing.
But it wasn't...
It was very peaceful.
It was very peaceful.
Dad opened his eyes just as he was going...
..and we went to get the nurses
and they came in and said, "Yes, this is him,
"this is, it is imminent now."
And we could either decide to stay in the room or not,
and we stayed in the room, so we held his hand
and Morgan was talking to him right up to the end
and I filmed Morgan, because that's been important to Morgan.
Morgan filmed me talking to him, as well.
In loving memory of Geoffrey Leonard Matthews,
known to us as Geoff...
..loving father of Miranda, Morgan,
Maximilian, Mark, Mitchell and Michelle.
Clearly, there is a bit of a theme going on here,
which I never really got to the bottom of,
but I think he wanted to create his own little tribe of M's.
Mini-Matthewses to follow in his footsteps.
Geoff has left a huge legacy.
Since his passing, I have received a lot of messages
from designers around the world, who worked with Geoff...
As your children have grown, and your grandchildren born,
lots of love from us all, from first night to last dawn.
Lots of love from us all, from first night to last dawn.
Oh, my darling, darling, darling man.
I miss you.
The fact that you're not there any more,
you've gone. I love you.
I was grieving before it happened,
because I knew it was so horribly inevitable,
and I felt so helpless and useless.
I hope I did everything I could for him, while he was here.
You miss Geoff, you do, don't you, my darling little cat?
You really loved him.
You don't think much of me.
I'm not that fond of you, either,
but as long as it takes, I'll care for you.
Gosh, there are literally hundreds of these.
Yeah, that sums up a Sunday.
Brought together by the funeral, my sister Miranda
and brothers Max, Mark and Mitchell, all visited Anna at home.
These are holiday snaps, I think.
When were we there?
That's a really... That's a really good pose.
Yeah, probably quite a regular thing!
Too much alcohol.
Yeah. That's my favourite photo so far.
My brothers and younger sister, who wasn't able to come to the funeral,
had only really known Dad when they were children.
It's a shame. Just what could have been and what was.
It is a shame.
That's one of mine. Oh, yeah.
I didn't know he'd kept any of these.
Of course, he would.
These are all, like, manuals and things.
This is Masonic...
Royal Arch Ritual.
The Warwickshire Working of the Royal Arch Ritual.
That's almost a tongue-twister, isn't it?
Especially if you can't say your Rs.
Lots of phone chargers.
Very yellow phone.
What's these letters? Where's the letter that you found from his mum,
is it this?
This is the letter from Dad's birth mother,
who, in very sad circumstances, had to give Dad over for adoption.
And it's written to his adoptive mother, Doris Matthews.
"Miss Grettan has told me how very well little Geoffrey is looked after
"and I would like to thank you for
"all the care and love you have shown him.
"It broke my heart to part with him at first,
"because he was my last link with a past which had promised to be so
"very beautiful. And when I knew my baby would be illegitimate..."
So she was expecting to marry his father.
"..I couldn't bear it.
"And I knew that for his dear sake, I must part with him.
"I suppose now there is little more for me to say,
"except to thank you once again.
"Please give baby Geoffrey one last
"kiss from his mother and may God bless you all.
"Yours very sincerely, Joan Rundle."
What a beautiful letter.
What comes across very clearly to me is she was expecting to marry
Dad's father, which I didn't know.
And, because then his actual father, who we traced,
went back to marry somebody else in Canada in the same year.
Hm. There are the little shoes that she sent him.
Oh, that's heartbreaking, isn't it?
"To little Geoffrey, from one who will always love you."
And that, I believe, is all I have to say.
Carry on enjoying your evening.
Thank you so much for coming and making it a good evening.
Thank you very much.
That's my son and he's filming me before I die.
Oh, right. Yeah, yeah.
And he's been picking up bits and pieces of my life.
One for the record.
"This was my dad".
Dad had always joked that this story would end with him dying,
but when that happened, we just felt sad and empty.
Whatever issues we had when he was alive,
suddenly there was a big hole where our dad used to be.
It now seemed more important to connect with the man we believed
to be our biological grandfather, whilst we still could.
Who are we going to see?
Canada. Does he know who we're going to see?
Yeah, we're going to see Mummy's grandad.
Yeah. He's called Charlie.
Like Charlie and Lola.
How you feeling this morning?
OK. Yeah, OK.
Kind of, sort of a bit on edge, you know.
A bit on edge and a bit anxious.
Is it ringing?
Hi, Charlie, it's Miranda.
OK, yeah, we are in town and we're at the hotel.
I wondered when would be a good time to come over?
Charlie's saying come in. I think he's having...
He's having oxygen, or a pill, or something.
OK. See the doggie.
Hi, Charlie. Hey, guys.
Hello, little doggie.
Is this OK? Eh? Is this OK?
Yeah, it's OK, yeah.
I'm just taking my powder.
What's this one for? My emphysema.
Good morning, young lady, how're you doing?
All right, yeah. You're awake, eh?
Yeah. All right?
Yeah. Who's the little red head?
Hi. Hi. Hi.
And there's a picture of me back in the '40s.
You look such a happy young man in that photo.
You've got a happy character, haven't you?
A really happy character. Happy character. Yeah.
So I'll make copies of all those and send them to you.
Is that all right? Yeah, yeah.
And these are the medals that I have earned,
because I fought in France and I helped drive the Germans out.
This is the insignia badge of the First Special Service Force
and its job was to handle anything
that other units possibly couldn't handle.
They trained us in just about every aspect of fighting
you'd want to get involved with.
This medal is a replica of a gold medal that was given to the unit
by the United States...
'After fighting in many historical battles,
'Charlie found himself stationed in England at the end of the war.'
As the troops were coming back from Europe and going back to Canada,
they came through this so-called Repat depot,
where they got re-equipped and all that and
sent back home to Canada.
I was the acting sergeant major for a while, at that barracks.
And every Saturday night, they had a party.
And, of course, you can't have a party
unless you have somebody to dance with.
So we found some young ladies and that's how Joan got involved
with the parties, and I got involved with Joan.
Our biological grandmother Joan, who Charlie had an affair with,
never saw him again after he left for Canada,
and had my dad adopted shortly afterwards.
Has Miranda shown you the letter that Joan...
Joan wrote? Yeah.
Oh, yeah, I've got it in there.
And she talks about you... It made me cry, it made me cry.
It made me cry, too. Yeah.
She was so young when she died.
I think in her 40s. Is that right? I think so.
Joan was a nice girl.
She was a nice woman. Yeah.
I thought she was all right.
She definitely thought you were all right.
According to that letter.
I've never read anything like that before.
I wonder if I made a mistake...
Yeah. But you can't answer it and neither can I.
You know, what's clear, Charlie, as well,
is that you're a very brave man,
that you've been very brave in the past,
but I also think that you've been brave by agreeing to see us.
You know, I did worry, because I didn't even know
if you knew that Joan was pregnant.
It must've been quite overwhelming at the time.
Life goes on.
Life goes on. So...
Well, cheers, people. Cheers, Charlie.
Cheers. God bless you all.
Do you do that with a mug?
Sure, I do. Why not?
'It's amazing how much he looks like Dad, though, isn't it?'
'It is, yeah. He looks really, really like Dad.
'I just think I'm talking to Dad, sometimes.
'I feel like I'm talking to Dad.
'He's got these very blue eyes, like Dad had.'
'I see it in his mouth.'
'And his mouth, too.
'And also... But the shape of his nose, that kind of slightly...'
'It's exactly the same.'
'So I see it basically in all his features, really!
'He looks like Dad.'
I just think that for me, it's cathartic,
because I think it ended so...
Just horribly with Dad.
And it was so...
..mixed up with...
..you know, guilt and grief... Mm... and anger...
and just sadness that his life had ended in the way that it had and,
you know, in that very unhappy way,
and that he was in the pickle that he was in. Hm...
That our relationship was weird
and your relationship was weird with him.
Everybody's relationship was weird with him... Hm.
That to sort of have something that ends in a good way...
Yeah. Is a sort of...
And what's funny is, like, talking to Charlie,
it's like talking to Dad, but talking to somebody who is happy.
It's Morgan. 'How's it going, my love?'
Yeah, it's OK.
We've just met Charlie for the first time.
'Oh, wow.' Do you know what?
He looks so much like Dad, it's extraordinary.
'I saw the photographs and thought, "My God, you can't deny that one." '
But in the flesh, even more.
And just his mannerisms and the way he talks and everything,
it's just uncanny.
That's Geoff? Yeah.
Who's this? His wife?
What did he pass away from?
He had emphysema...
The same as me. And prostate cancer.
Runs in the family! Mm...
This is Joan.
That's the way I remember her, just like that.
I even remember the sweater.
Oh, yeah, that's Joan.
Well, we just wanted to meet our grandad, Charlie,
and I hope you don't mind me saying that.
You want to consider me a grandfather?
Thank you. I'd be honoured.
It's been a very,
very wonderful experience to meet the two of you
and know you and talk to you and compare notes.
I'm sorry you're going home.
Anyway, have a safe trip home.
You know, it's been so lovely to meet you and to meet your family,
it's just wonderful.
Sure, nice to meet you too.
Bye, Charlie. Bye, honey. Look after mummy.
See you soon.
Bye. Bye, bye.
Bye-bye. See you later. Bye.
Hello, big boy.
Is there anywhere, any preference, Anna?
Well, sort of there.
I don't know, the hedge seems to have grown over because there was
some bluebells all along there, last year.
But I just thought, sort of about...
So long as it's not going to be...
You know, because the wind will blow them, I expect,
and they will become a part of everything else.
Do you want to hold them, or...?
Er, yeah, I could hold them.
Have you got it? It's quite heavy.
But I don't know if there is, like, a little hole there...
I don't know if that, if you sort of shake it out of that, but...
No, you couldn't really do it with the lid on.
I think it's easier just to tip it.
If you could keep Dante back, because it's blowing down.
Dante, darling, come back here.
It's blowing. It's gone in his eye. There's a good boy.
Oh, dear. Are you OK, baby?
I've got some wipes here.
Oh, darling, I do miss you. God, I miss you.
Shall we maybe save some, Anna? Sorry?
Shall we maybe save some? Oh, yes, there's tonnes here.
Oh, there's quite a lot, yeah!
It's a beautiful day and we can see the water rushing
and the light through the trees.
Thinking of you.
6 Music... Recommends.
No-one... ..tells us... ..what to choose.
A profoundly intimate documentary filmed by Bafta-winning director Morgan Matthews over a period of more than ten years in the life of Morgan's father Geoff and his wonderfully eccentric partner Anna.
In an attempt to reconnect with his dad after becoming estranged, Morgan uses the camera as both a facilitator and a filter that enables him to stay close during challenging times. The film follows Geoff and Anna through a financial crisis that sees them losing their home, it captures the challenges of their relationship, and documents the decline in Geoff's health as a result of emphysema and cancer.
With the warmth, love and humour that is so often mixed up in family dramas, this is a documentary made from the inside by a film-maker who is used to turning his camera towards other people's families - but never his own. The result is deeply personal, but the themes of a challenging paternal dynamic, a relationship under pressure, and death in the family, are widespread and universal.