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Monday, August 29, 2011

The End

On Sunday night I watched the very fine 1970 sexual thriller Deep End, and thereby completed my somewhat obsessive quest to view the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die

I have the 2004 edition of the book but the earliest reference to the list on this blog appears in 2006, so I guess that’s about when I started taking the idea of completing the list seriously. I think when I first started I had seen 337.

It’s been a fun experience, if occasionally somewhat arduous (yes, 9 hour Holocaust documentary, I’m looking at you). Putting to one side my mildly OCD box-ticking urges, the main reason I did this was to encounter films I wouldn’t otherwise have tackled, like Bela Tarr’s epic of slow cinema Satantango.

Perhaps the single most memorable viewing was a screening of Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles at the Sydney Film Festival, a film in which basically nothing happens (compellingly) for 3 ½ hours, which created a level of suppressed anger-cum-hysteria I have rarely encountered among the usually placidly arty SFF crowd.

Best films: Too numerous to mention. There were lots of pleasant surprises, such as The Burmese Harp, Daisies and a whole bunch of silent films

Worst films: I think all of the experimental US films of the 1960s underground, which comprise mainly of men in leather declaiming profoundly shallow dialogue on horrible grainy film inadequate sound quality

Masterpieces not on the list: La Ronde, Swingers, Rififi

What next? Well I could catch up with the movies listed in later editions of the book (19 to go), complete the list of Best Picture Oscar winners (2 to go), the Time magazine Top 100 movies (9 to go), or - eeeek! - the 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die (649 to go)...

(Apologies for the paucity of links in this post, Blogger really is crappy software sometimes.)

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The eulogy I gave at Dad's funeral

It would be remiss of me if I didn’t begin with the joke Dad invariably opened with on social occasions:

“I suppose you’re wondering why I called this meeting.”

He only had about six gags, but they were all good ones, and they somehow became funnier with every repetition.

So many memories that Amy and I cherish about Dad stem from the family holidays of our childhood. Many is the happy hour we spent sitting in the back seat of our Dolomite on the hard shoulder in France or Italy whilst Dad laboured away under the bonnet fixing whatever it was that had gone wrong this time.

Then there were the golfing trips he would take with friends, which appeared to be largely an excuse for a competition of “Who can wear the most appalling trousers”.

Another of the great passions of dad’s life was for fell walking and in particular for the grandeur of the Lake District. Even as he led us through yet another downpour protected only by our Gortexes, he would be full of enthusiasm for the magnificent beauty of the mountains and the poetry of their names – Blencathra, Scafell Pike, Helvellyn. As well as Amy and me and many friends, he would regularly take groups of students from East London away for the weekend and share his passion with them. I’d like to think that there’s one of his former students halfway along Striding Edge right now – Wainwright book in hand – with his or her family, passing on that passion to a new generation.

Just about the only value that Dad failed to pass down to us was his support for the team his mother-in-law referred to as “nasty vanilla”, the team anybody can lick! Dad would regularly take me and a friend or two to matches whenever Villa were in London, carrying a milk crate with us so we could see over the adults on the terraces. Unfortunately for him the day he took me to Highbury to see Arsenal it was the home team I fell for.

It is very special to us that there are people here today that met Dad only in the last year and others who knew him from his childhood in Birmingham, or his university days in Newcastle and Warwick, who became friends with him in Brentwood, or who were work colleagues in London. We are all here because we knew the same John; his unfailing humour, his generosity of spirit, his desire to share his love of life with others. Every occasion was the merrier for his being there.

Perhaps the most remarkable relationship of Dad’s life was the one he had with Mum. Whilst their marriage ultimately didn’t work out, they remained devoted to each other as all of us who saw them together could never doubt. Amy and I would like to thank Mum for the support and companionship she gave to Dad so generously for so many years.

We would also like to acknowledge the wonderful care Dad received at Meadowcare in the past year. It was a great comfort to all of us to know that he was being looked after with such compassion, respect for his dignity and personal attention.

Michelle and I were fortunate to spend a lot of time with Dad just recently. I will treasure my memories of sitting with him in Amy and James’ beautiful garden; he was sipping on a glass of lemonade and smiling at his four grandchildren – Phoebe and Isabella, Beth and Barnaby - as they raced around together, shouting and playing. As usual, that terrifying creature the goose played a prominent part in the chasing and tickling. Dad had that familiar smile on his face, taking joy in their childish enthusiasm and feeling happiness from being with those of us who loved him so much.

I think the legacy that Dad leaves behind is a testament to him. This week Amy and I have received so many lovely comments from people who knew him. Some talked about his loyalty, some his sense of adventure, some his gentlemanly manner, but everybody – everybody – had stories to tell of the good times they had together and the laughs they shared.

So thank you all for being here. Please join us at the Victoria pub for some food and drink. We can re-tell some stories and share memories about our dad, jeg, “our Johnny”.

To finish I would like to read a brief bible passage, Philippians chapter 4, verse 8:

“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things”.

When someone great is gone

My dad, John Goodfellow, died on 6th August 2011 aged 1969.

He was a wonderful man, universally liked, and the best father my sister and I could have wished for.

As a result, M&I took an unscheduled trip back to the UK for the funeral (leaving the Bs with the in-laws; thanks Val). Obviously it was a very emotional week for all of the family, but it was also a wonderful to spend time with everybody at such a difficult moment.

The funeral itself was a great occasion. There were over 50 people there from all stages of Dad's life, from school to his final months at the care home. Most of us retired to the pub after the service and gave Dad a tremendous send-off. He would have had a splendid time.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Retroblogging Big Trip 2011: Week 4 Bristol part b

The fourth week involved Nick and Abby’s splendidly enjoyable wedding do, a 3-day driving-intensive trip to see family and friends in Manchester, Durham and Sheffield, and more time relaxing with Dad in front of the cricket. It was a great week for spending time with special people, which is of course the main purpose of the Big Trips.

Dad in the park:

Monday, August 08, 2011

Retroblogging Big Trip 2011: Week 3 France

We flew out to Bergerac Airport to catch up with Amy and my nieces in the beautiful Dordogne area, which surpassed all of our expectations. Many of the lovely medieval towns were decked out for their Jours de Fete, and the markets were resplendent with cheeses, saucisson and interestingly coloured tomatoes.

Pretty towns:

Pretty hats:

Pretty people:

Pretty nice weather except for this night:

Retroblogging Big Trip 2011: Week 2 London

For the first time we were able to afford a week in central London, staying in a ramshackle Victorian flat near Charlotte Street. We could walk to Regents Park, Soho, Covent Garden and the river. A dream!

At the river:

Somerset House:

We spent most of our time catching up with friends, revisiting old haunts and even snuck in a couple of gigs.

Nick’s stag do:

With Frances at Pulp in Hyde Park:

Retroblogging Big Trip 2011: Week 1 Bristol part a

After an all-too-brief evening with Amy & family, they headed off to France and we inhabited the house in their absence (we being the 4 of us plus my mum).

The main theme of the week was spending time with Dad. I picked him up from his wonderful care home every day and he would spend a few hours with us playing with the kids, watching the tennis and sharing old, familiar jokes.

The Goose:

Matching hats:

We also spent some time in the lovely city of Bristol and took advantage of the gloriously lopsided exchange rate to indulge in a rampant shopping spree – M with clothes and jewellery, me with second hand books and Fopp.

A trip to a city farm:

B1 acquired a new best friend:

SS Great Britain: