No words from me today. Here is Rich’s speech from the do:
Now, before I go too far into this I should make a quick observation – if LB could speak to us right now he would have already said ‘shut up and sit down Richie’ as he did on many family or other occasions when I thought I should say something – so in keeping with the spirit of his wishes I shall not speak for long.
As many of you know it wasn’t the most conventional of family structures – taking the form of a reconstituted, blended, multi-locational one or whatever it might be called – but it worked (well most of the time; you try going through UK border control with seven people pretty much all of whom have a different surname on their passport) and LB shared his love, his sense of humour and fun, with all of his brothers and his sister, his mum and dad as well as his grand-parents – along with a number of others whose specific family designation was less clear but just as important – I spent a good ten years being known as the Amazing Geoffrey – not sure why but it worked for LB and so, for me.
As you can see from today, LB’s unbounded personality touched many, many people – not only those who lived with him – but, on occasions, people none of us had ever met or even heard off. A whole set of people across the region that knew him by name, sight or by his habits. He was simply known, or example, as the ‘tall, lanky young man’ at the much visited Oxford Bus Museum and frequently we would run into people on our daily errands who LB knew and who knew him – always quick to win hearts and friendship as well as any free food that might be up for grabs.
And food was something LB loved – certain foods more than others its true – but food was a passion – whether it was secretly eating 21 deserts at his grandparents birthday party or savouring the regular Sunday lunches with his Dad and family. It was particularly unwise to leave lemon, coffee or chocolate cake unguarded if you hoped to have a slice yourself.
One special thing (amongst many) that LB taught us and we would all do well to remember, was how to take special pleasure in simple things. In the love for the everyday, for the gentle pleasures of just being with each other, of our surroundings and in the immediate. He loved nothing more than lounging in the sun and enjoying the warmth of a slow, sunny afternoon. He simply enjoyed being, being himself, being with all his family, his friends and, especially with Stan the dog – who towered over the rest of us in the hierarchy of LB’s love.
Gentle and compassionate, his innate understanding of the way of things would be imparted in quiet chunks of insight, determined questioning and, at times, reassuring homilies. One holiday in Devon he spent many hours talking to three fine Aberdeen Angus bullocks who faced their last few days before slaughter in a nearby barn on the campsite. Touched by their plight LB sought to reassure them that despite the inevitability of their impending doom, they would feel little or no pain, that they were headed for better things and as this was their destiny they should embrace it and not worry or be distressed. When asked where this ‘better-place’ might be he replied the supermarket and the dinner plate – his compassion real but also realistic.
All this said and despite his generally relaxed approach to life he had a fertile and lively imagination and at times would live out complex life scenarios in very short spaces of time with awe-inspiring intensity. Be this managing his football guys to World-Cup triumph or tackling local crime and disorder issues.
His biggest dream was to run his own transport company – ConnorCo as it became known – which was to be based in County Mayo. He had the livery, the range and number of vehicles, the routes and even the pay-scales and overtime rates all worked out. It was the best transport company you could ever imagine– and those trucks and trailers, flat-liners and box-vans will rumble on forever in our hearts and in our memories of this beautiful and magical son, grandson, brother, nephew, cousin, friend and young man.