My best friend##Q##s father died yesterday.
A heart attack at 79 is not an unusual occurrence, and given he had an attack five years ago, only surviving because of the prompt actions of those custodians of the nation##Q##s health the NHS, it would be safe to say he was living in overtime.
Following an operation after his attack, to put stents in, he went on to lead a perfectly normal life for those five years, living in Skegness – a funny old holiday town that characterises everything good and bad about the British seaside, and travelling to holiday destinations around the globe with bewildering frequency.
I met him in Skegness and enjoyed his company immensely, despite a bit of an Indian accent that could vary from transparent to impenetrable and transient deafness that seemed to be more a matter of convenience than impediment. He struck me as a warm man who loved his many children with as much love and pride as his small frame could offer.
In his own way, he was an extraordinary man. The bare facts are: he arrived in Britain from India in 1949, aged 17, and then set about educating himself. He eventually qualified as Chartered Accountant and not only set up his own practice, but taught Accountancy at the City of London Polytechnic. He married a Yorkshire girl and together they had two sons and six daughters, all of whom did him proud. Can you imagine that though: 17 years old, 4000 miles from home and barely speaking the language? Amazing really: I would have been terrified.
A lifelong socialist, he was determined to integrate himself into the British way of life and gave his first daughter a British first name, only pronounced it with the Indian long “A”, but equally importantly passed on his values of fairness, justice and a work ethic that took his children a long way.
While I only knew him slightly, I was taken by him and had no little admiration for the way he set about life##Q##s merry-go-round. Arriving in a strange land, with a foreign tongue, marked by skin colour and religious differences… virtually everything against him, he made a tremendous success of his life, made a difference to the lives of others and leaves behind a legacy of six lovely daughters, two great sons and a marvellous wife. I##Q##ve retained his anonymity, but those who count know who I mean, and that##Q##s all that matters.
I wish I knew him better.