Being woken up with the news that your brother has just passed away is a surprise I could do without.
At times like this it is too easy to ask questions; the ‘What if’ ones are always the most destructive & seem to crowd the mind first. HOWEVER, this is a tribute to Graham & what he did, not about what could have been.
Graham can never be described as an ordinary man, neither would he have liked that title. He was someone who fought passionately for those who deserved recognition but were being overshadowed by academic snobbery. He was never afraid to make waves if he felt that they were justified & challenged some deep-seated or well-established prejudice. He would think nothing of stating quite openly in forum discussions where he felt praise & acknowledgement should go; and where it shouldn’t. Meetings were rarely dull when he was present 🙂 He was a bright cookie who did not suffer fools gladly yet he was always willing to listen to those who sought his guidance & opinion, especially ‘Junior’ staff.
He also had a big heart though didn’t often openly show it; he just kept it for those he cared about & those whom he wanted to benefit from it, usually family members & close friends.
Having lived in Germany since the mid-1970s he often found the English words hard to articulate & occasionally, he would slip into an occasional German description mid-Skype, much to our mutual amusement.
He spent a lot of time speaking around the World at scientific & medical conferences where he was recognised as an expert for his pioneering work in detection of illness & disease from blood & body fluid analysis. It is ironic that one of the doctors he helped to train should be his Consultant during his recent illness but not surprising that this same doctor would drop by to chat; not because he had to, but because he wanted to.
Few people sat on the fence when it came to knowing him: you either liked him or you didn’t.
I loved him. He was my brother & I have so many happy memories from my earliest childhood of being with him. He was 15 years older than me so our paths didn’t cross very often during my earlier years (usually university holidays) but they did as I grew older. Many are the memories of doing radical things for fun, which although not dangerous, would never be allowed today (like in the late 1960s, inflating condoms & tying them around a banger, lighting the firework, dropping it out of the 14th storey window of Graham’s flat in Leeds & watching them explode spectacularly in mid-air about 6 storeys up from ground level – Do not try that at home).
I remember seeing him play in all sorts of bands when he was at University in Leeds in the 1960s. A scientist by training he also had perfect pitch which could make listening to concerts a trial as he would always be able to hear which instrument wasn’t quite in tune.
He was unpredictable & at times zany: he convinced me when I was 7-years-old, by using photographs, that the haggis grew on trees in Scotland: I spent most of the 2 weeks of a family holiday in Scotland in 1967 secretly looking for Haggis Trees. I also remember going to a music shop when he visited us from London to buy a set of bagpipes. These, I later learned were attached to a compressed air line in his laboratory & anyone who outstayed their welcome got ‘the bagpipe treatment‘ when he flicked the On switch 🙂
My children loved spending time with him & he always found time to spring unexpected gifts & surprises on them.
His extracurricular interests in geology, literature, history, music & many other areas overflowed into his daily life & he leaves a legacy of beautiful stones, esoteric music & library of books, along with memories of chats, debates & arguments over a wide range of topics. His affection for cats always resulted in waifs, strays & neighbourhood pets queuing-up outside his patio window for food 🙂 More than one cat became resident over the years.
He leaves a wife, Inge & two great sons, Peter & Nikki who will miss him immensely. Anyone who has seen my company websites will have seen Peter’s handiwork as a graphic designer (based in Hamburg). Nikki too was a source of pride as Graham often recounted how our father would have been proud as Nikki worked in aero engineering (our father worked for Rolls-Royce, Derby on aero-engines, particularly development of the RB211 in the 1960s & 70s). Peter & Nikki are also extremely accomplished musicians … & nice guys with it.
There are so many more things I could write but suffice it to say,
“Thank You Graham for the fun, mischief, love & care you have shown. You will be sorely missed & have left a hole, but that hole will be filled with happy & precious memories. It is a privilege to be called your brother & I’m glad I took time to tell you. Rest in Peace & God Bless” x