Like many people, today I am remembering a father who passed away many years ago. He died on a cold January night, when I was only 13, of a heart attack suddenly in the night.
I wonder what I would say to him if I could see him again now? I am now older now than he was when he died - that's weird, I am older than my father.
The things he gave me in life were not material; he gave me a sense of humour - a sense of the ridiculous even.. He gave me a love of words; I love to play on words and meanings, very much as he did. He gave me a love of music, bringing me up on Wagner and Beethoven, Mozart and Haydn.
He also gave me the 'Sheppard nose', which is evident in generations of our family, even through to my distant cousin in Australia.
He gave me the confidence to perform, to love the stage and to be able to speak in public. He taught me how to wiggle my ears. He taught me sayings and jokes that now, listening to 1950s and 1960s radio (Radio 4 Extra), I realise were from The Navy Lark and Round The Horn. They are still funny.
Thank you dad - thank you for giving me things money couldn't buy, and precious gifts that have stayed with me for life and helped make me who I am.
And thanks mum, just in case you thought I'd forgotten your contributions. But you deserve a blog all of your own, let alone a post.