So today I'm off to London, to the funeral of a friend of the family.
We've not been in touch for a long time - long as in probably 30 years. Mick was a friend of my father's (my mother recalls him being his closest friend) and my parents certainly spent quite a bit of time with Mick & Joan, his wife. I remember him as a soft, slightly fuzzy guy, longish hair (unusual for a man in his mid-40s then) bushy sideburns, a quick rollup and gentle manner. He liked his sea fishing a little, though as I recall, seldom had a chance to actually go, having never learned to drive & running around everywhere on his moped.
I sometimes wonder if Mick was the gentle, grounded end of his partnership. My earliest memory of his wife was looking all exciting in an early-70s style, hair in a pony tail, neat figure and big glasses, standing beside her Morris Minor - in retrospect quite fetching. She was quite prophetic later on, and as an older teen, I recall her having much more Christian input, while Mick would gently stay on the sidelines - even staying in a tent by himself on one church weekend so that he could smoke away from the main party.
So I'm off to say goodbye to Mick, maybe represent the Oxfordshire end of the family, possibly meet up with some other friends that were once part of the same group of teens, subtly influenced by this quiet man.
Not surprisingly it seems there was a lot more to Mick than I'd known, and he'd influenced a lot of people (and been close friends to a lot of people) over those years.
So is this what funerals become when you reach a certain age - an opportunity to catch up with old friends and re-establish otherwise near-silent relationships? Amazing how some have barely changed in appearance and mannerisms, while others much more so (not surprising in view of the >20 year gap). It was mildly amusing to recognise some people who completely failed to recognise me, and also intriguing to be approached by someone who turned out to be the younger brother of one of my best friends from Junior school. How he could have ever recognised me I have absolutely no idea - the oldest I could ever have been was 16 and he would have been 10. However you did it, well done Giles!
The area has changed significantly from when we were even last there just a few years back, and I struggled to recognise landmarks, approaching Thornton Heath and South Norwood from the Croydon side. I wonder if Steve Chalke would recognise the house where he used to live, in Whitehorse road? At least I could remember enough of the area to find my way without sat nav. But the state of the area makes me wonder if we're developing 2 Britains, where the educated and well-employed whites have moved out of the cities and the areas they once occupied have been taken over by those who have made themselves an ethnic majority, locally. With this change has also come a change and/or loss of, for want of a better expression, moral compass, primarily due to a loss of local 'eldership' and respect from within the indigenous population. This looks like trouble further down the road.
Tired now - just went back to work, setting up some assays for tomorrow. Last night we did circuit training, and that combined with a >3 hour crawl home has not made Toni a comfy boy. Incubation over - back to the lab.