About my Father
|Portrait of the author by his wife, Juliet
by Philip Boobbyer
My father was born in 1928, and grew up in Ealing, London . Both his parents were doctors. His interest in sport began early – in the back garden at home. As a schoolboy at Uppingham, my father shot, boxed and played hockey and fives to a high standard, but his best games were rugby and cricket. He went on to play rugby and cricket for Oxford University , and rugby for England . He was an attacking centre-threequarter with a deceptive run.
My father studied history at university, and then trained to be a teacher. However in 1952 he left teaching and sport on one side and spent the next ten years in Asia and America with the work of Moral Re-Armament. MRA, originally called the Oxford Group and recently renamed Initiatives of Change, was founded by an American pastor, Frank Buchman (1878-1961), and later led by the English sportsman and journalist, Peter Howard (1908-1965). MRA is a worldwide fellowship of people who believe that God has a purpose for each person’s life and the world, and emphasise the importance of absolute moral standards. Through listening to God and obedience to His leading or ‘guidance’, people can find what they are meant to do, and can become catalysts for change in their homes, communities and nations.
In 1957, my father married Juliet Rodd, painter and writer. They then settled in Oxford , where they lived for almost thirty years. They had two children, my brother, Mark, and me. They now live on the border of England and Wales , near the small town of Presteigne .
The pieces that appear here were written over a long period, and for different purposes. Much of the material was originally used in hundreds of talks given to schools and colleges across the world, and the pieces still sometimes have a ‘live’ feel about them. The wealth of quotations that appears in the book is explained by the fact that, since his time at university, my father has made notes on all the books he has read. There was a rich treasure trove from which to draw.
In an account of the match between Oxford and Cambridge in 1950, one journalist wrote that Boobbyer ‘exploded through the centre like a cork out of a bottle’ to set up a try-scoring pass. This became a family catchphrase, and is the source of the title for this book. It seemed to capture the spirit of my father’s approach to sport. Yet it also hints at his spiritual message: there is a life of joy and fascination for people when they get free of the things that block them up and set out on the road of faith.
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