Friday, 12 April 2013

Shoulder to Shoulder......

Don't know about you but the weather here is still awful; rain, wind and more and more rain. Though they claim it's just about to change over the weekend with mid-twenties temps forecast for Sunday, sadly a day when I'll once more be travelling North to catch a ferry from Caen to Portsmouth. I only got back from Blighty, following my brother's funeral and wake, on Wednesday!  Still feeling pretty zapped, in fact.

The funeral went as well as these things do. The wake, however, was a nicely pitched, laid-back affair. Held at his old golf-club, Wentworth, it was a clear indication of how the other half live; opulent and posh to the Nth degree, in truth. Certainly not my normal stomping ground. He was a member there for over 30 years and his son, my nephew, trained as a golf pro there under Bernie Gallagher some years ago. So he was quite at home there.

Over100 people attended and most laughed and joked about their time with him, which was nice. Jimmy Greaves said his time working with him on ITV's Saint & Greavsie programme had been 'the summer' of his life. Jim Rosenthal, an ITV sports presenter was effusive in his tributes to Bob and Mick Channon was also extremely touching in his memories.  Another few TV - Sky, ITV, and Channels 4 & 5 people  - wittered for a bit, with Sir Alex Ferguson of Man United also remembering his times with my brother.  Wee Alex, as he always called him, came down specially from Manchester in a chauffeur-driven limo but was extremely down to earth, warm, friendly and chatty. I got his autograph - personalised - for an old mate in Kent who is a lifelong, rabid MU supporter. Even J chatted with him, and she's no footy fan, and our daughter, LVP, got his autograph.  He was extremely easy-going and more than happy to oblige on that front, despite the situation and circumstances.

I personally found him to be particularly friendly and chatty, not at all like his image or the way he appears on the box at times:

This is him sharing a joke with me, the scruff in crumpled linen jacket in the forefront with the coffee cup, and my sister-in-law.

At one point a guy breezed in. Obviously a Telly-type, bronzed, immaculate hair, suit, shirt etc, who I half recognised but couldn't place. Our daughter, LVP, immediately knew it to be Eamon Holmes, made a beeline for him and spent about thirty minutes chatting with him and her cousin, my niece. He, too, was apparently a nice guy.

I find it strange to think that I won't be seeing my brother ever again. I'm finding it all a bit upsetting though ironically I've no doubt he'd have loved his send-off!

There were loads of professional golfers also in attendance, some of whom made the error of assuming that I was a good player, as had been my father, brother and, now, nephew. I had to correct them on that one. 

His oldest friend from Glasgow also managed to get down and, as I remembered him well, we spent a lot of time reminiscing together, which was a delight. Some cousins from Scotland, one the recently retired Acting Chief Constable of Lothian & Borders Police, also made it to the funeral.  They, too, were impressed by Alex Ferguson's easy manner and the way that he turned to them and chatted away in a friendly way.

Now however it's back to Blighty for a while, where we've found a place near Goodrich, Ross-On Wye, and will be settled for six months or so. We'll try getting out here to France as often as possible in the interim, of course, to keep the place ticking over and to stock up on plonk at realistic and reasonable cost.  I only hope we can get internet etc sorted out over there asap!