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I'm here because it's a place where I want to be.
What do I do with my life - still pondering that, keep exploring the possibilities I suppose...
I do have another more personal moblog Vivupclose
Take a look at my daughter Beth's website...
food for thought...
Everyone, in some small sacred sanctuary of the self, is nuts. -Leo Rosten, author (1908-1997)
We think caged birds sing, when indeed they cry. -John Webster, playwright (c. 1580-1634)
There are two kinds of light -- the glow that illuminates, and the glare that obscures. -James Thurber, writer and cartoonist (1894-1961)
The artist brings something into the world that didn't exist before, and he does it without destroying something else. -John Updike, writer (1932-2009)
Some people become so expert at reading between the lines they don't read the lines. -Margaret Millar, novelist (1915-1994)
There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest. -Elie Wiesel, writer, Nobel laureate (b. 1928)
Thanks to A THOUGHT FOR TODAY
from A.Word.A.Day with Anu Garg
Search this moblog
Do you ever find that there are certain words that you hardly ever hear used that you’ll come across one day only to hear again and again within the space of a week?
Well since dad has gone, the unusual word of the week has been ‘raconteur.’
Dad really was a storyteller. Each tale considered carefully – the pre-amble, the sequence of events and timing all exacted in such a way to deliver the best punchline..the final act.
Dad was a slick story engine, always raring to go and once he’d found the suitable story for the occasion there was no stopping him, even if you’d said you’d heard it before.
When dad got sick this final time, to people who asked me how he was doing, I quipped that he’d stopped repeating the same old anecdotes as if this was a symptom of his illness.
But his stories did return before we said goodbye and I spent a wonderful day listening to dad tell all his stories about winding Ken and Ian up with the help of his friends. I didn’t leave his side all day.
Dad was a hoarder. Our house is full of objects and props for an impromptu story.
“Where did you get the scary priest carving dad?“
“What is the Adnams 72 club?”
“Tell me again about the crest above the fireplace”
All these objects imbued with a bit of magic, an important time and place.
And many of you were the cast of dad’s legends, some people I’ve hardly ever met all so real through the power of the stories dad told about you. Dad was loyal of course and would speak as fondly of people he hadn’t seen for many years as those he saw on a regular basis. So some of you who have phoned over the past few weeks, might have been surprised I greeted you so warmly when you thought I might not know you. Not true, you were the stars of dad’s biography.
Oh dad. When I got home, all the clocks had stopped.
It was too quiet, no you in the chair by the fire. So I took on your clock-winding responsibility. It took me 6 attempts to find the correct key out of the collection in the bottom of the clock, a spirit level iphone app and at least a couple of glasses of beer to start it ticking. But the bongs were all in the wrong place, the hour hand slipped and worse still, a really ugly clack just before each strike of the bong. I’d have been in such trouble for messing with the clock.
But it’s ok now, I’ve fixed it Dad. And I think in the end you’d have seen the funny side of things.
He was good at seeing the funny side of things. I think he’d have approved of me playing a game of snap with his sympathy cards. He’d have relished the red roses for Lancashire encroaching on Yorkshire’s turf and he’d have wanted us all to remember him fondly without taking all this formality too seriously. Helen and I recalled the fake fingers dad used to have trapped in the carboot of his mini, remember those? we joked that he would have liked the idea of having them put on his coffin.
I’m told I look like mum and have always thought that I took after her and Helen took after dad… well, after all, Helen did take up a career in probate and me in education. I thought I got my creativity from mum too, but having thought about it more after finishing my masters where I spent time studying storytelling through objects, it’s clear there’s a lot more of dad in me than I once thought.
Thank you dad, for bringing me up right and I hope in time I will come to discover more of your special qualities within me. I will always miss you.
I was moving some clothes recently and I told you I was putting them out of the way of the cats. Then I caught myself and corrected it to cat, because we had just lost Mog. You said that was something you could never get used to.
I can’t say goodbye to you; you are everywhere. In the house, there’s your chair, your copy of Tristram and Coote’s by its side. The clocks you chose and wound, the furniture you stripped, the stone walls you painstakingly uncovered.
You’re there in my stubbornness, my reluctance to be told what to do. My need to compulsively double-check everything. In my love of solving problems and helping people out with my knowledge.
You taught me so much. How to tease a cat, whilst maintaining its absolute adoration. You could certainly turn the same trick with people. You taught me that a good true story doesn’t have to be at all accurate and grows with each telling.
You showed me the world from a VW camper van. Starting tentatively in France – Brittany, the Dordogne, moving into the mountains of the Pyrenees and Picos de Europa. Edging on into the beautiful green Basque countryside with its shaggy haystacks and rolling hills. We found Mutriku together, a harbour town full of narrow cobbled streets and lashed by the most enormous ocean waves.
Then on to Galicia, passing through towns built of mud and straw, where some people live in tunnels like Hobbit Holes. Making firm friends with Spanish families, including those of Marie-Lo, Marie-Teresa and Marie-Carmen.
With those families we danced (well mum and Beth danced), shared cauldrons of mussels and participated in the ritual of Queimada (which was extremely exciting as it involved flaming pots of alcohol). You even went out night-fishing with Manolo and his Neptune fork, to spear and net weird and wonderful sea creatures.
It was hard to drag ourselves away from Galicia, but on we went until eventually we reached Porto and Nazaré. There was even talk of crossing the Mediterranean to Africa, but we never quite made it that far.
Those holidays, some of which we shared with Chris, Jean, Caroline, Richard and Helen, make the best memories. You taught us what adventure is. It’s about taking a chance on some of the green roads, discovering your own special places and making the very most of the people you meet along the way.
We’ve been in Yorkshire now for over 27 years. Alan checked out the pub before he looked at the house and once we had moved in became a late night regular. He played some darts and we ended up joining the domino team. We were obsessed for a while. He loved the cricket when he could still play - the madness of incidents like playing in balaclavas to fend off the midges really appealed to him. In latter years he has got up there less and less the last really happy occasion was at the end of August when Andrew Hodge’s returned home to celebrate the winning of his second olympic gold. Alan made his claim to fame having an olympic gold medallist grow up next door - made him just as happy as City winning the league. I hope to hear lots of stories later from his friends here - he was special to a lot of people.
Marriage and a new life
When we got married in 1967 we began a totally new life. I had just left college and Alan had just got his first promotion and we moved to Carlisle. Further promotions took us to Stoke, Norwich, Bristol and then the final move to Yorkshire when he became the District Probate Registrar for Leeds. Each move brought new friends, many of whom are here. Thank you all so much for coming.
Chris Marsh is both a colleague, personal and long time family friend. He and Alan never worked in the same office, they just had parallel careers. Also Chris had a caravan, a wife Jean and 3 children and we had a campervan and 2 children. We spent numerous weekends on the Dorset coast together. One glorious summer I think we actually went away every weekend in the camper - though not always with Chris and Jean. Our two families even travelled to Brittany together in the same camper when Beth was 5 months old! Chris is the lead member (owner of the campervan, organizer, cook and general butt of many jokes) of the yearly trip to Le Mans - the old boys week away - all ex registrars
I have pressured him to speak - he said I might need to have the tissues handy :)
I think I actually met Alan for the first time in 1970 when going to a union AGM in Sheffield. Mike Moran and I stayed with Alan and Viv on the Friday before the meeting. I had heard of him before from a colleague Fred Moore who had moved down from Manchester and was constantly telling me that there was a lad up there who I would really get on with. Fred was right of course, we hit it off, getting to know each other better at the numerous union branch committee meetings and AGMs.
His ability in Probate is well known and recognised and there are others who will no doubt refer to this aspect of Alan’s life, so I will talk about Alan at play.
Our friendship developed over the years and we visited Alan and Viv at Hedenham a few times when on holiday in Norfolk.
We then both had moves, Alan to Bristol and me to Winchester. We soon realised that the Dorset coast was readily accessible to both of us. We had five children between us and arranged to meet in Charmouth which was easily reached by both families. We would meet up for the weekend, he in his Camper and me in my caravan. The two families would relax, if that is the word, on the beach.
You will know that Charmouth is well known for its fossils and the five chidren would happily scour the beach for them.
We, being the alpha males would climb the cliffs with hammers determined to outdo our children, the eldest of which was 8 or 9. Whilst hammering away at the cliff our conversation would invariably turn to Probate and we would swap cases for an hour or two. It was all very therapeutic and I am sure that Probate four would be still going now if the venue had been swapped to the cliffs in Charmouth. We would come down with no fossils only to be met by our offspring excitedly showing off their collections. This would happen every time but we never gave in.
We then turned our sights to further afield and Alan suggested that we all go to Brittany in his Volkswagen camper. We loaded our big tent on the roof and the four adults and five children piled off to Portsmouth. Off the boat late at night we started off, Alan ignoring my suggestion that we get petrol ASAP. By the time Alan decided that we should make a pit stop we couldn’t find a garage open, so running on fumes, we pulled into the forecourt of a closed garage to await its re-opening in the morning . Now a Volkswagen camper is cosy at the best of times but 4 adults and five young ones didn’t make for a comfortable night.
We also met up in Spain where we had the notorious hat incident.
Both families had great times and I know that the children still look back on them fondly. The only slight problem was that Alan and Viv’s time zone was in the mid-Atlantic whilst we were on GMT. We resolved this by Helen and Beth coming over to us for breakfast and then coming down to the beach. As we were about to have lunch, Alan and Viv would surface. It all worked very well.
Alan then introduced me to what was then known as the RAC Rally. This event always took place in mid-November and we basically travelled around the country in all weathers in a motor caravan. We would spend 5 days watching rally cars belting through the Forestry tracks at about 100mph, literally feet away, for up to 8 hours per day. We would then park up in a pub for a few beers. Perfect.
Now it may come as a surprise that Alan had flaws. Two spring to mind – his complete inability to correctly estimate the time needed to get from A to B and also his need to get to a cash machine at the most inconvenient times.
I will give you an example of one journey:
We left the Kielder Forest to go to a village near Pickering. (We had to be there by 11.00 to get a lock in). Alan says “no problem, we will do it easily”.
South of Newcastle the first doubts set it. “We should be alright”. Me, foot slightly harder on the gas.
Hour or so later “It’s going to be touch and go”, harder on the gas, noise level increases and conversation almost ceases.
Approaching Thirsk at 10.00 “Chris it’s going to be really tight”.
Then he struck. “Chris I need a cash machine”. I said Alan I have enough cash for both of us for the week but you all know that, once his mind was made up, you couldn’t change it.
He eventually re-appeared, presumably with cash, but also with two bags of chips.
Off we headed as fast as I dare with Alan stuffing chips in my mouth as we went.
We arrived at Levisham as the clock struck 11.00 – well there wasn’t a clock but it would have been striking if there had been one.
As we reached the green I hit the brakes and Alan baled out.
It was a text- book jump and I bet his dad, who was a paratrooper, never left a Dakota as sweetly as he left my Bedford that night.
Then he ran. I have never seen Alan run before or since but he was racing through six inches of snow heading for the lights and there he was at the door.
Now you know how in televised Rugby matches you see the slow motion shots of the player diving for the line. Well, for me time seemed to stand still as he launched himself through the door and I swear that he went through horizontally. But he had made it.
I followed about five minutes later and there he was at the bar with my brother, his pint of Landlord almost finished, beaming as he always did, and looking as if the last 5 or 6 hours had just never happened.
We then turned our attention to Le Mans
There were several reasons for this:
1. June in Le Mans is far warmer and appealing than North Wales in November
2. It is abroad
3. Having arrived there we did not need to move again till we left for home
Having persuaded (though not convinced) our wives that it is absolutely necessary to go for a week to watch this 24 hour race we relax. Basically, we are sitting in a field, surrounded by thousands of others all doing t*he same, drinking the little stubby beers (me trying not to burn the sausages and burgers). We are invariably talking about Probate, wondering how the powers that be have the gall to still refer to the Registries as the Probate service after what they have done to it.
The conversation would be interjected with anecdotes and jokes, mainly from Alan.
There is only one problem with Le Mans. The race clashes every two years with either the World Cup or European Cup finals. I’m told that it’s something to do with football but, as the only team I have ever supported is Bristol Rovers, you will understand that I can take it or leave it. However, Alan’s and Paul’s week is governed by the game.
There cannot be many people who have gone to Le Mans for a week of racing, camped less than half a mile from the track, who return not having seen a racing car. He would argue that he watched it on the various screen dotted about but he only looked at them to see if there was a match on. I do believe that he would have watched Outer Mongolia play Upper Volta if it was on.
Last year, we went again and it was clear that Alan wasn’t well. Of course we had no idea that it was to be his last time. We had already started working out how we could adapt the way we operate to ensure that he would be able to come this year.
As we all now know, this isn’t going to happen.
We will still go of course and sit around the field with our stubby beers, eating burnt sausages and burgers, but the conversation will I know be dominated by Alan. There will be reminiscences of things he said, things he did and anecdotes of the jokes he told.
We will miss him.
Can you spot him on this programme from the official souvenir?
City till I die
When Alan was 7 he became a Manchester City supporter - this happened as many of you will know because a club rep brought tickets into his catholic school. United was the club supported by the catholic community, so the priest offered the tickets, but he quipped that no one would want them - well Alan decided he did and the rest is history. When I left for college and came back at a weekend, if there was a home game on and I wanted to be with Alan, I had to join the lads and go to Maine Road. It was no hardship those were the glory days of Lee, Summerbee and Bell. The glory peaked in 1968 when we crossed from Carlisle where we lived to Newcastle to see them win the League. City has added so much pleasure to Alan’s last few years - he was so proud of his £350 OAP season ticket, which gave him a padded seat ,on the front row of first tier right opposite the dugout; 2 trips to Wembley and the Aguerro goal that won the league. He was one of probably only a few people who had been there to see them become Champions twice. It also gave him new friends in the Heywood Blues members and the people who sat by him. It was a link to his Manchester roots. He so loved the blue moon So now you know what you have to do - even if you’re a red - please join Nicky Vince ........ in singing 'Blue Moon.'
"Blue Moon" was sung with gusto
2nd Feb 2013, 12:11
Mike, Liz and Alan's mum as I knew them in 1962
It's the first time I've ever known Alan to be on time!
All I can say seeing so many of you here is that Alan must have bought a heck of a lot of pints for you guys. Alan was the most generous man I've ever known.
Thank you all for taking the trouble to come and pay your respects. Many thousands of miles have been travelled to get you all here.
Thank you so much Viv with Helen and Beth's help for organising this tribute; I can imagine how hard that was.
I'd like to thank my wife, Una, for supporting and comforting me over the last 2 weeks. I haven't been easy to live with. I probably haven't been easy to live with for the last 15 hundred weeks either, come to think of it. It was our 30th wedding anniversary on December 30th, the last time I saw Alan. We hugged when I left. We'd never done that before. I'm so pleased we did.
ALAN WAS MY BROTHER
"BROTHER" Such an evocative and iconic word. There are countless references in the Bible using brother in its wider sense of friend or companion. Religious orders use "brother". Shakespeare coined the phrase "Band of Brothers" and we use it for all manner of friendships and close relationships. Now we have Bro used extensively for friend or mate.
You have to remember how important an older brother is in leading the way:
When you get a motorbike at 16 it's because your brother had one at 16.
When you get a car at 17 it's because your brother had one at 18.
When you get to go on holiday at 16 it's because your brother got to go at 20.
When you have a girlfriend at 12 it's because your brother could have one at 18.
I'd like to read a poem I found. It struck a chord with me. Gaius Valerius Catellus was a Roman poet who wrote this to his brother on returning from far away for his funeral. Forgive me if the language is a bit archaic. It was customary to bring gifts to bury with the deceased. I expect that must have been Lazio bobble hats or Roma FC scarves.
By ways remote and distant waters sped,
Brother, to thy sad grave-side am I come,
That I may give the last gifts to the dead,
And vainly parley with thine ashes dumb:
Since fate who now bestows and now denies
Hath ta'en thee, hapless brother, from mine eyes.
But lo! these gifts, the heirlooms of past years,
Are made sad things to grace thy coffin shell;
Take them, all drenched with a brother's tears,
And, brother, for all time, hail and farewell!
ALAN WAS MY BROTHER
Liz's words...Because there are nine years between Alan and myself, I have to admit I may have some misconceptions in regards to him:
I believed he was almost as powerful as Mum and Dad AND Gran on the occasions of her visits to us;
I believed he could do anything;
I believed he could get away with anything;
I believed he could eat anything;
I believed he could drink gallons of beer and remain upright;
I believed he could sword dance;
I believed he could never lie, not even a little white one;
I believed he could fix anything;
I believed he could build a new kitchen;
There end the misconceptions;
Because of this nine year difference in age, I grew up with Alan as a sort of vision, well, no, not so much vision as apparition, flitting in and out of the house doing whatever it was he and his mates were up to at that time. Always the big brother, too busy growing up to notice he was forging the way ahead for the rest of us. He was always along for family occasions, holidays and such, until he became a teenager and was allowed to go with "the lads".
Of course Viv was a part of our family for as far back as I can remember. I did wonder about the part Viv played as opposed to " the lads"
In my mind Alan was just too high on the pedestal for me to reach. Now I know the tv show, " Happy Days",which of course wasn't around then, I think of Alan and his mates as the characters in that show. Glamorous, grown up teenagers, with kid brothers and sisters hanging off their every word.
There is one thing about Alan that is very disturbing to me and I believe only happened to him since arriving in Yorkshire and starting a garden. He disliked rabbits. I can only think this character flaw is due to his never being exposed to Beatix Potter as a child and of course not too many rabbits roamed our Manchester suburbs.
Alan is our eldest sibling, `mum and Dad's first born. I say is because he will always be that, even without his physical presence in a room, without his voice and compelling eyes, the essence of him will remain in the hearts and minds of the people who love him and the ones who were lucky enough to be loved by him in return.
Alan will always remain a great gentleman in our memories, is caring and kindnesses never forgotten.
No one will ever forget his razor sharp wit and sense of humour, his triumphant smile as he delivered yet another punch line to his lastest joke.
Our world is not a better place now you are gone Alan, but we are better people for having know you.
Love you Alan.
Green Fields of France played on the mandolin and whistle by Nickie and Vince (they got up at 6am and recorded it because they were afraid of messing it up!)
If I should go before the rest of you,
Break not a flower, nor inscribe a stone,
Nor, when I’m gone, speak in a Sunday voice,
But be the usual selves that I have known.
Weep if you must: parting is hell,
but life goes on so sing as well.
I saw these words some time ago and thought YES that is how I feel about funeral’s - although not the flowers:) We had to have Red Roses for love and Lancashire of course - Helen would have liked to have filled the Clarendon with them.
Alan was never keen on big ‘do’s’ they usually meant formal dress and all that goes with it (he refused all invitations if he would have to wear anything more formal than a lounge suit)
He did have a Do for his 21st though - it was the done thing at the time. Some of you were there.
He had no choice about a Do in 1967 when we got married - some of you were there too.
Then he reluctantly allowed me (just over 20 years ago) to celebrate our Silver Wedding, right here in this hall - quite a lot of you were here.
He refused a retirement Do - they would have liked to have given him a good send off but weren’t allowed.
Well now he has no choice
and I welcome you all here - to Alan’s Bit of a Do (he did love the writing of David Nobbs )
I wanted everyone to have a chance to play a part in today, so that they could feel that they had helped to make this special. And to show that although he has gone, we all carry him with us in some way. This is what gives me strength and why I am so pleased to have you all here reflecting his love.
Alan was born in Southport, as air raids made his home city Liverpool unsafe. His family moved to Manchester when he was 3 - his introduction was to be ‘beaten up’ well that’s how he put it - presumably so he would know his place.
Ray his father ran his Uncle’s newsagent shop. I knew him from being tiny. He had been a paratrooper and was Alan’s hero and role model. He had time for and loved everyone. He had a joke or quip for everyone too. I always said that knowing him helped me understand Alan - time for everyone but sometimes no energy left for the family whom he so loved.
Alan’s brother Michael (who was still wearing short trousers when Alan and I first started going out 52 years ago in 1961) and the baby of the family Liz who was only 8 when I became a part of their family’s life would like to share their thoughts.
Words from his brother and sister. (He aint heavy he’s my brother - 3 lines)
Alan's Goodbye 'service' sheet' cover
Thank you Naomi'(www.naomitipping.com
The words which were spoken are on the following pages - click 'newer', top left.
Did it go well?
Comment from Hayley and Ash who run "The Clarendon" ...
'I often find myself wondering if people really do look down from wherever they may be at what they have left behind.
After today I hope that this is true and Alan will be looking and thinking, and feeling so proud to have such a wonderful and friends. The whole feel of today has been... 'so Alan' and all he would have done for himself. What a fabulous send off for a fabulous gentleman.
Thank you Hayley x