Farewells and memories

I attended my friend John’s funeral last week.  John was a great nature lover never happier than on a walk with his trusty camera snapping birds etc.  His funeral was held in this beautiful wood location in glorious summer sunshine.  The service was held in this glorious wooden building and we all sat looking out past his coffin through a wall of glass at the trees and nature all around.  At the end of the service he was carried through a glass door in that wall.  It couldn’t have been a more beautiful, serene and apt setting for our farewell to John.  I was ok up until the very end when his son paid tribute to AA and what it had meant to John.

My sister is moving house this coming weekend.  Now there two kids are both grown adults they are leaving the large family home that they’ve had for nearly 30 years.  They are moving to smaller house which is conveniently just around the corner from us.  That’ll be nice.  However she has been digging out all the clutter and posting loads of photos she was finding on Facebook.  Mostly of her kids with embarrassing shoes, haircuts, clothes etc.  much fun.  My daughter was of course joining in the banter with her red-faced cousins until my sister posted one of her old school photos from primary school!  Hahaha!

However my sister also dug out a photo of her when about 10 presenting a bouquet to a Canadian dignitary’s wife at a launch of one of the Canadian O Class submarines built in Chatham dockyard in the 1960s.   Our Dad was I think known as “chief liner” – which was essentially the chief shipwright on the build who from the moment the keel was laid down in the dock was in charge of making sure it all stayed straight and true … otherwise it’ll have gone round in circles!  Literally like  car with it’s tracking out – he had to repair a Brazilian one once that could be driven straight I believe.  I would have been not quiet 4 when that photo was taken but I do have a vague memory of it.  The huge crowd, the enormous hull towering over us and the sheer noise, power and amazement as this huge craft slipped down the slipway into the river for the first time with my Dad on the bow making sure all his work didn’t end up at the bottom of the Medway!

Now the dockyard is all a museum, university campus, office space for service industries and a large shopping centre, theme park (well a small one based on the local hero Dickens), cinema, restaurants etc.  It used to employ thousand and thousands of men doing a “proper day’s work” as my Dad would have said.

About furtheron

Music and guitar obsessive who is a recovering alcoholic to boot
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7 Responses to Farewells and memories

  1. JJ says:

    The spouse worked at Harland’s in Belfast–did his apprenticeship there. All gone now. They left the cranes up and there is a museum there (principally because of the Titanic) but the work that used to go on there–whew, it’s hard to believe it’s all gone, a whole system of labour and training completely gone. Very haunting. I recently downloaded Elvis Costello’s song “Shipbuilding” because I find the whole thing so poignant.

    • furtheron says:

      Even as that song was written they were planning the closure of the dockyard so poignant. Listen to Robert Wyatt’s version I love that one

      • JJ says:

        Wow, I’d never heard that version. “Diving for dear life, when we could be diving for pearls.” Poignant. My father-in-law nearly died hanging by a foot off some scaffolding on a ship–he was very lucky when many weren’t.

      • furtheron says:

        Many things led to my Dad’s death – his smoking no doubt one of them but industrial injury and the awful working conditions inside the subs and ships from the 40s to the 80s – 42 years working in that environment takes a toll. In the end a quick heart attack was probably a blessing.

        That’s one of those covers that some how blows away the original doesn’t it?

  2. SoberMom says:

    I love how this is all such a cross section of your life. Since I’ve never been to England (but will get there one day…I promise) it’s so nice to hear you describe this little bit.

    I’m glad your friend had such a beautiful send off. Sounds like it was perfect.


  3. Untipsyteacher says:

    Dear Furtheron,
    My dad was an engineer. He designed machines that would work with wood.
    I am so glad your friend John had a nice funeral.

  4. daisyfae says:

    So sorry you had to say a final farewell to your friend, but it seems that he had a proper and fitting send off. Sometimes that’s as good as it can be…

    Having been awash in old memories as we continue excavations on my mother’s belongings, i certainly understand how one photo can send you through such a maze of memories and emotions… “A proper day’s work…” i think of that phrase often as i have skilled tradesmen work on my kitchen renovation while i sit and plunk away at the keyboard of my computer…

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