It was ten years ago today
That my dear father passed away.
Were he still here, and in his prime
He’d walk ten miles to drop a line.
Dad’s Eulogy, by R.
R: Can you hear me talking?
M,C & V: Only in words!
R: Splendid, I shall just use words then.
Ladies and gentlemen, Dad was a great fan of the Goon shows, and you will be delighted to hear that the only quote from those shows has already happened. I am R, G’s eldest son. G’s widow, M, extends her warmest thanks to you all for coming here today to celebrate G’s life.
GFR was born in Marylebone, London on 8th September 1927, the 3rd and youngest child of F & A. He grew up just a stone’s throw from Lord’s Cricket Ground.
Not content just to indulge his love of watching cricket, at the age of 7 his family moved to Wembley. All this was just a disguise of course, as his real objective was the Grand Union Canal just ¼ mile away where he could indulge his passion for fishing. More on that in a minute.
G attended Barham Primary School, as did 3 of his sons later on. He passed the 11+ with flying colours and went on eventually to Willesden Technical College. He left aged 16 to join the General Post Office (later known as British Telecom) as a telephone engineer. He stayed with them for 40 years and retired early, aged 56.
G was too young to fight in WW2 but the war still took its toll as his elder brother and best friend F was killed in action on the last day of fighting in Tunisia. G&M visited the grave several decades later; M still feels that G never really recovered from this loss.
G was called up to the army in 1946 and later served in Trieste, Italy until 1950. Upon his return home he rejoined the GPO and in 1951 having learned there was “a young French lady on the loose” (those are my mother’s words btw) he decided to show her the sights of London, as you do, especially as the Festival of Britain was in full swing.
G&M started going out a lot, especially during the close season for fishing. After 18 months, M went back to France, closely followed by G at Easter 1953, which just happened to be a few days into the close season for fishing. They became engaged and married on 1st August 1953, which is well INTO the fishing season so clearly he meant it. They did however, get the boat back to England 1 day later.
I was born a year later and my brother M in 1957. Soon after this, G joined the Emergency Reserve of the Royal Signals. He was promoted to sergeant and travelled all over the country to check on the fall-out shelters. M thinks he had the easier job compared to looking after 2 young sons. Then C was born in 1960 and V in 1962 so G became president of the Wembley and District Angling Society. By this time we had moved to within 30 yards of the Grand Union Canal; I remember many fishing trips with Dad.
During his working life, G, amongst other things, joined the Viatores (a group of walkers) and became the first president of the Central London Group of the BT International Twinning. After M retired, they moved to F, where they indulged their passion for gardening. Dad had long since given up fishing but did like to go for walks. In F they became an integral part of the local community and I extend my own thanks to those neighbours and friends who helped and are continuing to do so.
In later life, he suffered from dementia and for the last 18 months he has lived at a residential home, to whom we extend our thanks for caring for Dad; he wasn’t easy but he remained a lovely man, the perfect gentleman. We lost Dad a long time ago but there were still little glimmers of him there. Just a few weeks ago we caught him dancing, a slow dance, with a blonde 25-ish lady carer.
I finish with a reading from the book “The Wayfarers’ Journal” published by the Viatores (G’s walking group). Not many people can claim to be referenced in a published work, but G achieved that too. One of G’s skills was in calligraphy and the author, John Lloyd, called himself the scribe and appointed G as his apprentice, or sub-scriber, a pun on the word BT used to use for their customers.
Now George has quite an interesting line –
Coarse Fisherman. On Iter Thirty-nine
When rain came down all day, he didn’t care,
He just likes being in the open air.
Next time they walked him twenty miles and more,
No wonder that his feet were very sore.
Half-way he had to buy some brand new shoes;
He’d not give up. What! Give up all that booze?
Coarse walking he did readily embrace
Despite the wettest walk on Cranborne Chase.
He dresses like the other vagabonds.
At any rate his clothing corresponds.
That’s not surprising as their walking code
Is that “all men are equal on the road”.
With his calligraphy they’re satisfied
That he is very nearly qualified
To understudy John as a “subscriber”,
Not only that, he is a fair imbiber.
And if you want to know how much, I reckon
He does some thirty miles to the gallon.
Related: On the way in and on the way out (music at Dad’s funeral).