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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
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10th Feb 2013, 16:18
10th Feb 2013, 16:11
The robot was a great hit - number five is moving like the robot.
10th Feb 2013, 15:55
Viv’s final thoughts
I started going out with Alan when I was 16. Nov 12th I think 1961.
We had been friend’s for some time. Walking back from youth club as an ever dwindling group, by the time we got to my house there was just Alan, Noel and I. We would chat outside for ages. He did ask me out to see Anthony Newley’s ‘Stop the World I want to get off.’ I said yes if I could pay my half - he wasn’t having that so it didn’t happen. I didn’t want to go out with him and end up losing him as a friend, but when he asked me to go to see ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’ with him I accepted. I knew this was a long term thing - I remember asking when I would next see him and he looked shocked - poor thing he didn’t have a clue! Our relationship has had it’s ups and downs like any other - but we were always rooted in our friendship - those roots have shown so clearly in the last month of his life. Nothing needed to be discussed, we agreed about everything except for him making his current account joint - he wasn’t ready for that!
So it is time to let him go...
On the 15th not realising at the time that it was our last day, I spent in all, 4 hours sitting by his bed. We were calm and sad. He was not afraid. He just desperately wanted to sleep. I was glad it was just us because for anyone else he would have made that bit of effort, as he did whenever a nurse or doctor appeared. I’m sure we both thought many things, but we just spoke occasionally. I told him how proud I was of all of us and how we had coped. There was a peace and understanding.
We have all lost a man we loved - the first time I sobbed before he died was when I thought of looking through all our old holiday videos and photos and thinking that he wouldn’t be there to answer my questions. I’ve lost great chunks out of my life, have memories I won’t be able to confirm, although we were just as likely to disagree about them. I have lost my partner in life of 52 years but that means I was lucky enough to share my life with him for 52 years. I am grateful that we had notice that he was dying and were able to share that notice and feel the warmth of friendship from all around us. It was a time when we as a family took nothing for granted and totally appreciated each other. We were always conscious of goodbyes even when I walked the dogs. So both Helen and Beth felt they had said proper goodbyes and he got up and walked to the door to see them off. Our last goodbye was from me ‘ I love you’ and from Alan ‘I love you too and thanks again’ There was a long look and a slow release of hands - cinematic - I can see it in my mind. Bless you Alan - maybe some of you feel that is a strange expression for a non secular funeral - but when someone thinks with love of you or touches you with love nothing can be more blessed. Please bless Alan in your own way during this short silence.
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.