2 hours ago
Monday, 25 June 2012
R.I.P. Paul, my dear friend of the last 52 years.
I'd spoken to him only a week ago when I rang his mobile to hear from him that he was in hospital. (He still lived in north-east England where I come from, and where he's been settled since being an immigrant from Canada [Simcoe] when he was 13, the time I got to know him at school). When I spoke to him, as he was under the influence of sedative drugs he was struggling to explain what had happened but he had to terminate the conversation as he was about to receive some more treatment. I asked him to ring me when he was able.
From what I could gather from his distraught wife, Mary, the principal cause of his demise was liver failure. I'll get more details later.
Paul was the most influential person in my life, outside my own family. He was 66, one year older than me.
At school I wanted to make friends with him as we were both loners - he because, being a 'foreigner', he didn't know anybody else, and I always finding it difficult to make friends with anyone at all. I found out that he was interested in Astronomy, as I was but, even more important, that he knew a lot about classical music. I was an ignoramus on the latter subject but, because of wanting to be appreciated by him, determined at the age of 13/14 to acquire some knowledge about it, forcing myself to listen to the BBC classical music station night after night. It worked. After my tastes had settled we found we shared the same adulation of the music of J.S.Bach.
Paul was the most intelligent person I've ever known, solving mathematical problems in his head in an instant. He was also widely read in philosophy. What was alarming to me at the time was that he was a professed atheist already while we were still attending the R.C. college. (It was to take me another 10 years to see the falsity of the Church of Rome, and a further 25 years to doubt the very existence of any God, but Paul got there miles in front of me.)
After leaving school in 1963 we saw each other every week until I left the area 12 years later, maintaining contact mainly through telephone. I've seen him on every one of my annual visits north-eastwards in recent years.
I've only got a handful of photos of him. I took the above one a year ago, which I had posted in my blog at the time. The following couple were taken around the ages of 20/21.
2012 is turning out to be possibly the worst year of my life so far - or should that be 'the most challenging'?
It started with my being diagnosed as diabetic last January. More recently I've had the very unwelcome significant hike in the rent I must pay, forcing me to start using sacrosanct savings which had been ring-fenced away - and to be used only after my own departure. In addition the wife of one of my nephews has been diagnosed with breast cancer and is undergoing aggressive and painful radio therapy treatment - and this is bringing my sister (her mother-in-law) down, whom I'll be visiting next week. And now this massive blow of Paul's death. I hardly dare think what is coming down the line next - and the year is only halfway through!