Eric, Neil & France – Week 28 : 2022

I have to start by posting that my father-in-law, Eric, has passed away after a short illness at the grand old age of 90 years old. I wrote a blog about him in January that probably captured his later days. However, this doesn’t do justice to a fine, mild mannered, sportsman, architect and a happily married family man. He lived a couple years longer than his wife, Margaret, who he married in 1956. He has three successful daughters and seven grand children who all thought the world of him. As regards his immediate family and the many females in his life he played the role of ‘Best Supporting Actor’; a role I have often played and one that I have learned, from Eric, the moves and lines. He would often appear with Anna’s mother at our house and soon disappear into the garden with a pair of shears. I now get the pleasure that brings: helping the daughters, literally, invisibly with either a trowel or painting brush in my hand hoping that as I’m somewhere around their property a cup of tea and a Tunnock’s will arrive as my reward.

If the truth were told then I’m still trying to recover the lost sleep from my tour guiding. I’m not working again until September but have taken the opportunity to get into the Dales to walk some of the routes and see the sights of my next assignment. Bolton Abbey, Hawes and Fountains Abbey in the sunshine are a delight and busy, it should be a good tour. 

Before my last tour I had a large task to complete that was most of the time a delight but became a big job with a demanding deadline! It was cataloguing a large LP record collection. Tragically a long time family friend of Anna’s and latterly mine, Neil passed away in 2019 from cancer at the young age of 59. One of his passions was music, playing or collecting it. He’d amassed a giant record collection of 1,043 LP’s and 322 Twelve Inch singles. (This doesn’t include all his CD’s and Seven Inch singles.) Neil with some sad foresight wanted his friends to have his record collection should he be gone.

His widow, Becca, wanted to enable his close friends to view the collection and take their pick. The collection wasn’t remotely sorted and needed putting physically into alphabetical order and collating onto a spreadsheet by artist name, album title, catalogue number, genre and value. From here the friends could easily pick what they wanted. Valuing is achieved by going onto Discogs, a website to buy, sell and value records. There isn’t a record that you cannot find wherever it was pressed in the world or the year. The value is dependent on condition, popularity of the artist and scarcity. Whether you can realise the value easily, if you sell, is a debate as it may take time. Needless to say vinyl LP’s are generally much sought after nowadays.

It was a pleasure to listen to the records as I catalogued them (and the Ives family likes a list). The weekend came and went when the friends visited and collected their records. Job well done I think as I got a framed print, a few LPs, several years of copies of old music papers and some chocolates. More importantly I got to think about Neil and his music tastes, surprising inclusions, omissions, preponderance of purchases in certain years, his loyalty to some obscure bands and his travel to buy them whether in North America, Europe or the UK. A privilege really.

There may be some more blogs ahead as I head to France after Eric’s funeral. It seems a long time since I slept under canvas and I have a flight and a ferry booked. There’s about 700 miles to cover in 10 days, cycling and camping, before I’m back for the Favourite Youngest’s wedding. I think I should be guaranteed some sunshine given news of French wildfires and record temperatures!

Lastly, an observation from the road. I was nearly bowled over on my bike by a woman cycling out of a side street in York. She was struggling to tame her heavy electric bike and found it difficult to stop at the junction. I cycled on but met her again at the traffic lights 200 metres up the road. She’d caught me, moving quickly, up the hill with her assisted power. After the lights she sped off only to eventually turn off the main road into the busy station car park. The traffic included taxis, buses, cars, pedestrians and cyclists. She didn’t indicate and simply dived left. She wasn’t wearing a helmet. People who haven’t ridden a bike since they were children are buying a lot of new electric bikes I think. My cycling sensitivity to traffic and other road users is heightened after years of experience. I expect the electric bicycle revolution will lead to a number of deaths.

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