I was at the funeral of a former colleague today. John Wilson was certainly one of those people of whom you could genuinely say they were unique. I had worked with John for a number of years and he was at one and the same time the fount of all knowledge and the source of all manner of frustrations. There’s little point of recounting tales here because most would be utterly meaningless without extensive explanation of characters and situations. But the sad thing is that however much we can tell about a person, however much they have been involved with work or personal life, you never really know the person. You realise that when you hear a eulogy. I knew about the love of jazz but never knew John sang in the church choir. He could type ludicrously long memos and emails in no time but I never knew he was an accomplished pianist. I knew he worried over the minute details of a project but never knew his concern extended to supporting environmental charities and Oxfam.
His passing was sudden and unexpected but, as was said at the funeral, it meant he avoided old age and dependency. Maybe not a lot of comfort, but for someone who was always there for others, perhaps fitting.
The occasion also gave me the opportunity to catch up with other former colleagues. Despite my good intentions of ‘popping through sometime’ I never do and so it was good to catch up with what everyone is doing. It’s been almost three years since I took redundancy yet it seems like no time at all. But in that time people have moved on, circumstances have changed and yet, apart from looking a little older, everyone readily drops back in to shared stories about work, family and life in general. So, much as I would have preferred a Guinness over lunch rather than an orange juice, I’ll make do here with a virtual toast to colleagues and friends and catching up.