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News > Fondly Remembered > STANSFIELD, John David (Class of 1951)

STANSFIELD, John David (Class of 1951)

The following obituary was written by Julia Stansfield.

John David Stansfield was born on 25 October 1931 in a nursing home in Barlow Moor Road, Manchester to Madeleine and Arthur Stansfield who had married in November 1929.  He became their only child possibly because his birth year saw the start of the 1930’s depression.

The family seat was established in 118 Bolshaw Road, Cheadle, Cheshire where he lived until his marriage in 1960.  As parents they came with the usual disadvantage of being unable to go to parenting classes as such did not exist. 

His upbringing was very much lead by his mother and maternal grandmother Beatrice Ellen Holden.  Her husband, his grandfather, Henry was a veteran of the Gallipoli campaign from which he never fully recovered.  He daily wandered the streets around their home in East Didsbury, Manchester.  Grandmother doted on David and looked after him whenever possible despite his bad behaviour.  These opportunities were for several weeks in summer while his mother took extended trips to Germany.  This was the 1930’s when the National Socialist Party had taken absolute power and was covertly preparing for a war that they determined would expunge the humiliation of the loss and reparations of World War 1.  She became proficient in German so could be expected to know what was going on.

In 1935 his mothers brother, Frederick, died of pulmonary tuberculosis.  At the time and critically for his mother there was no cure until the 1950’s.  The only answer was for those who could afford it to go to sanatoria in dry climates such as the Swiss Alps.  Unfortunately the lesson of Fred’s death was completely lost on the family as his mother succumbed to it later on but nobody recognised the symptoms.  She was diagnosed in 1940 when the disease had developed too far to be cured.  Due to her illness and his fractious behaviour their relationship had deteriorated cataclysmically so when she finally admitted the problem and was sent to a sanatorium in Market Drayton he had no compulsion to express his pleasure that she was gone.  In hindsight had she behave to him during recent times she would have been had up for child cruelty.  The consequence was he had to go into the boarding house of the school.  The school itself was the full mix.  Boys and girls both day and boarding.  Looking back its rules about freedom of movement closely resembled those of an open prison.

His interests as he grew were pretty standard for a young male.  Model trains and the construction kit Mecanno were high on the list.  Around age 10 he mastered riding a bicycle with the aid of his father.  With an open field opposite the house flying kites figured.  However all were overridden by fishing.  He was daft enough to waste hours hanging a line in a duck weed covered pond with only a bent pin on the end.  The field opposite contained his Crown Jewel.  A deep pond featuring perch, roach and rudd.  The major snag was that being deep he was forbidden to go there.  It was surrounded by silver birch trees which gave no cover except for a small bush at the far left just big enough to hide a boy.  The field belonged to the farm just round the corner where he spent much of the school holidays both working and with the neighbourhood children.  It was mixed.  Dairy, fowl and orchard.  He learned to call in the cows at milking time but never to do the job.  The hens occupied an enclosure inside of which was a large coup.  At one time egg production appeared to have ceased until a small boy peered under the flooring and there found the answer.  The local kids were Brian Winter from next door with whom he fought until they decided it would be better to be friends.  Dorothy and Ethyl his sisters and Rosemary the neighbours granddaughter.  One summer they were joined by Max from somewhere down south with a funny accent.  As a gang we would hole up in the farm hay lofts, play hide and seek in the empty building plot just down the road and as a contribution to the war effort kill as many of the cabbage white butterflies from the swarms in summer. 

The fact that he learned to ride a bicycle at around the age of 10 needs to be recorded as he was still doing it at age 89 as I write.

His first school was a privately run one by a Miss Whiteside between Handforth and Wilmslow on the A34 where he was admitted in 1936.  He has no lingering memory of that academy except to learn the spelling of should, would and could.  Also sports day in the garden.  He remembers sitting an exam for his next school that was likely the 11+ or equivalent.  He surmounted that hurdle and entered Cheadle Hulme School in Junior 1 in 1937.  Its population while not being unique was unusual having both boys and girls boarders and day scholars. While a junior he remembers the headmaster Mr Lockhart enquiring his name several times.  Having started quite brightly cum the final year in juniors he had fallen to 27th of 30 and landed in the bottom steam in senior school.  There he was considered vocational material and assigned to the woodwork class.  The pinnacle of his achievement there, a table lamp, is still among the goods he has left behind. 

Woodwork lasted one term.  At the end of it he agitated to transfer to the science stream and was successful.  It was still in the bottom stream but there his talent for maths showed up.  Few of the boarders were fee paying like him.  The school was established to take in the sons and daughters of families of warehousemen who had died leaving their widows to do the bringing up.  The school motto, ‘In loco Parentis’ says it.

His time as boarder lasted from 1940 to when he left in 1951.  Add the three years in junior makes 14 and few can match that.  Over that time many teachers came and went but there was just one Headmaster.  He was a diminutive Scot by the name of Thomas Thompson Rankin Lockhart affectionately known as Tod.  A strict disciplinarian and devout Christian.  Sunday morning saw Church Parade going to attendance at one of the local churches and in the evening he conducted a service in the dining room for all the boarders. 

The early days were wartime so as growing boys they were perpetually hungry.  The one abundant commodity was white bread but the butter and jam to go with it amounted to what is seen going on one round of bread these days.  That taught him the skill of eking out a scarce commodity.  The other exception was brawn, meat in gelatine.  This was so revolting boys offered to give their ration away.  Because of his mother’s illness he was regularly chest X-rayed at Altincham Hospital.  Also he was obliged to drink a pint of milk each day.  If he missed a day two would be there waiting.  Occasionally three had to go.  The end of the war in 1945 did not see the start of abundance.  Quite the opposite.  During the winter of 1947 when there was no thaw until Easter it felt like to him his stomach had contracted to match the shortage of food.  Apart from this, rationing lasted up to eight years after VE Day. Any thought in the subsequent fat years that this meagre diet would lead to a poor lifestyle is entirely wrong.  The pattern of life through the years of boarding was in school all term and home for holidays.  Being confined to the school premises there was little to do during winter nights but play table tennis, read or play board games.  Chess was available and that periodically lead to crazes. He once suffered the indignity of being caught fools mate.  When older the skivs employed in the kitchen became a matter of interest.  Outdoors in summer and winter weekends there was sport and athletics.  It was difficult not to join in these so he was in cricket, rugby and lacrosse teams all the way through.  So he ran his socks off in the playing fields in summer and in the indoor boys play room in winter.  He is convinced that was a lifetime benefit.

The pupils were divided into four houses.  Ramsay, Brookes, Broadhurst and Broome.  These commemorated benefactors from the time of the school’s inception.  The rivalry between them was quite intense.  There were interhouse competitions in athletics, swimming, rugby and lacrosse.  The girls competed in tennis, hockey and netball.  Rather short-sightedly tennis was confined to the girls.  In the boarding house there was knock out table tennis competitions.  As there were both sexes in the boarding house it was evident that the management was at pains to keep them apart.  Girls at one end of the building and boys at the other separated by at least 50 yards of corridor.  Contact was permitted in full view on the girls hockey field.  The only other mixing was playing rounders. 

1948 saw him take his first public exams, the School Certificate.  It was also the year of his mother’s death on 14 October.  After years in several hospitals she had been sent home and as it turned out to die.  He mustered enough good results to have the option to go on into 6th form.  This he took.  It turned out to be a serious learning curve.  He was then pitched in with those from the higher streams so it was immediately apparent there was much catching up to do.  Being a boarder was very helpful.  After tea all had to settle down to 3 hours of homework.  Had he been at home he would have been tempted by numerous distractions and no doubt would have succumbed.  It didn’t occur immediately but getting to take the next level of public exams opened up the possibility of university.  Again he was lucky.  Unlike the bright kids who have multiple choices of university subjects his only choices were maths and science. 

Normal 6th form residence is two years but David was lucky as the school offered a third year so he stayed and cum the end of it felt he had finally caught up with the brighter kids.  Of the sciences chemistry was his favourite.  However, rather than going for a degree in pure chemistry he sought a place in a school of Chemical Engineering and was successful in getting a place at Birmingham University.  This was the first sign that he was considering his economic future as he believed Chem Eng paid better than pure.  The course lasted three years and these passed quickly.  The subjects taught were varied.  Chemistry, Mechanical and Electrical Engineering and the abstruse Thermodynamics.  The final year concentrated solely on Chemical.  He came away with a 2:2 honours.  He well remembers the palpable feeling of relief when homework and exams were no more.  For years after his dreams were haunted by an imminent exam for which he had done no work.

This was 1954 and when the country was able to afford to put all school and university leavers through National Service.  He volunteered for the RAF and flying training.  This gave him officer status but for the first 3 months it was back to boarding school.  Military philosophy is to totally humiliate recruits and when they at the very bottom build them up to be a disciplined fighting animal with intense group loyalty.  The humiliating time has the magical effect of building the comradeship of the group. 

Then it was off to flying school at RAF Hullavington, Wiltshire.  Regrettably he did not last long.  Performing a powered landing was his downfall.  Actually this was another stroke of luck.  He had learned navigating and now went on to a course in aeronautical engineering at Bedford.  That was the summer of 1955.  It was one of the few good ones in the 50’s.  It allowed swimming in the local disused quarry.  It was there he bought his first powered transport in the form of a 350cc ex WD motor bike.  His final posting was as adjutant (secretary) to the Engineering wing commander at RAF Tern Hill a flying training school in Shropshire.  There he met up with Brian White a fellow officer.  Knowing they were in a time limited employment they caroused around as young men will do.  Another evening activity was fishing at Hawkstone Park.  He would stay there until night had descended because tench, bottom dwelling fish would only take the bait in the dark.  He also got to know the details of an internal combustion engine by dismantling that of the bike.  He was demobbed in 1956. 

Then it was time to get a job and build a career.  He had long decided on the oil industry.  It was affluent and handling liquids was easier than solids.  That is simplistic but it was the best he could do at the time.  He had offers from Shell, BP and Mobil.  Even tho he liked the Mobil set up he chose Shell as they were located in Cheshire.  Coincidentally he was briefly engaged to the sister of a brother officer at the flying school whose parental home was Prestatyn.  Her father was a popular member of the local golf club.  He persuaded David to take it up so he joined and went round the course alone often when he was supposed to be working a shift at Stanlow Refinery.  On one of those occasions he hit a poor shot on a short downhill hole.  It took a while to find the ball because it was hiding in the hole!

He was accommodated by Shell in a bachelors hostel in Chester.  There he met John Myers who became a lifetime friend.  John was the only one of the bachelors in Hough Green Hostel to commit to lifes next significant step.  He married Dorothy in 1958 in her home town of York.  She still recounts the dirty tricks he and others perpetrated on their possessions in the love nest just down the road.  John died in October 2015.

Altho keen to learn the business there was a good deal of social activity so in hindsight it marked the continuation of the playboy era from the Air force that was to last throughout his time with Shell up to 1968.  He was moved from Shell Stanlow to their grease making plant in Manchester in 1959.  So he was back in the Manchester area after 8 years.  He was to stay there until 1962 during which time he had met and fell in love with Heather Stableford.  That state of affairs is a pure and overwhelming feeling.  It is completely asexual.  That, of course inevitably follows.  They met thru the local Intervarsity Club in Bexley Square.  This was the name we gave to most of our houses.  The Club gave us plenty to do.  Brian Winter was also a member.  We married in March 1960 and honeymooned in Tenby.

In 1961 they repeated a drive to Spain that David had done twice.  First with Birmingham fellow new graduates, Clive Rustin, Idris Evans and another.  Second with Brian the next door neighbour from childhood.  On the first he was designated food shopper and still remembers the Spanish for most one buys at a grocers.  With Heather the destination was Tossa De Mar same as with Brian.  The vehicle was a Ford van affectionately known as Mefanwe, the Welsh girls name.  To ensure a trouble free journey he gave the engine a top end overhaul having learned it from the motor bike.  That entailed removing the cylinder head to clean off the carbon deposits on the cylinders and valves.  On putting it back together he later learned he had not read all the instructions.  For the motor fraternity it should have been torqued down.  In those days the AA would provide route plans down to the smallest detail.  Also in those days the idea of drink driving offences was well into the future.  So, after the morning drive we would stop at a shop and buy a bottle of red wine to go with lunch.  The initial investment was F2 for bottle and wine.  Subsequently they refilled the bottle for F1.  He recalls getting to Tossa only to find that in the 5 years since it was a traditional fishing village where nobody spoke English to find it had become an English ghetto.  There he and Brian got by with French.  They moved on a short way to Lloret de Mar which had not succumbed.  Above the coast was a world famous monastery, ie a must visit.  Now the car took centre stage.  Every few miles it ran out of coolant and the radiator had to be topped up.  Hot climate or what?  Come the time to go home the van gave up the ghost in Lyon.  It needed a replacement cylinder head gasket.  By a miracle they learned its French name and found a Ford garage that had one in stock!  So, after several hours parked in a Lyons side street they resumed the journey home.

In August 1962 their first born was conceived in a tent.  No big surprise as they both enjoyed camping.  Shortly after that their time in Manchester came to an end when he was posted to Essex.  Their perceptions of Essex amounted to little more than, “where the hell is that?”  Start date was November first at Shell Haven Refinery.  Accommodation was the Haven Hotel situated between the refineries two sites and miles away from anywhere interesting.  It was at the time of the opening of the first Dartford tunnel.  From there he commuted back to Manchester on weekends until early January when they moved into a house in Stanford le Hope.  He was destined to happen upon these places some 20 years later.  Over this short period weather was a heavy feature.  In the first week of December thick fog persisted all week but miraculously it lifted on Friday afternoon.  That was the last ever smog to hit the area including London.  Next it was home for Christmas and staying there til after New Year.  As soon as Christmas was over down came the snow.  In Manchester, 6”, in Essex 3ft.  Had he known about the conditions in Essex he might very well have stayed put.  However the break was over so off to Essex at the end of the evening.  He remembers nothing until the final turn from A127 to reach the A13 which was a single track with snow well above the height of his car on both sides.  Had anything been coming the other way they would have had to swap cars.  It was 3am so not a big surprise.

Moving in day to 29 First Avenue, Stanford le Hope, coincided with a temporary thaw and a leaking pipe above the front door.  It was also the start of a new way of life.  In Manchester they were regular theatre goers, were active in a social club and family were round the corner.  In Stanford le Hope theatres were far away in London, there was no family but most of all we were on the verge of becoming parents.  This happened on 13 March 1963 when Julia Helen was born in Leigh on Sea.  Heather’s mother, Constance arrived to give much needed help.  No paternity leave in those days.  They soon settled down and welcomed Rebecca Avril on 12 April 1965.  At the time he had a movie camera and projector.  The most loved reel was “Beccy Born”.  As she was a home birth the was there to be photographed.  This one became the favourite more especially when it was run backwards!

Now it was up to him to forge his career with Shell.  No, it wasn’t.  The ethos of the refinery was that of a sport and social club and that took precedence with work finishing at 4:25 on the dot.  Dinner parties, cricket, swimming, golf and bridge loomed large.  The latter consolidated on initial learning at school and hard lessons at university.  In those days it was accompanied by drink and playing for money.  Concerning the money we set a limit of £1 for the losing pair.

During this period a certain Tom Poole came to work at Shell Haven Refinery.  He was into golf and skiing.  He persuaded David to give skiing a go and that started many years of winter trips to Austria, France, Switzerland and Italy.  He took Julia and Rebecca in the early 70’s.  From then on it was Beccy who liked it the most and she continued until early 90’s.

After six years of this at Shell haven it hit home he was not progressing and younger men were overtaking him.  During that period his father died in 1964 and his grandfather in 1965.  Father left enough for them to move to a four bedroom detached and buy a new car.  The debate about the car now seems almost comical.  The decision was between a Volkswagen and a Morris.  The latter won because it was British!  In 1968 he saw an advert for chemical engineers by Mobil Oil at an office in Surrey.  He followed up others but it was Mobil he really wanted so was pleased when they made an offer.  During July he and Heather concentrated on finding a house in Surrey.  This they did and put the Essex house on the market.

So on the first of August 1968 he reported to the office in New Malden, Surrey to be told he was to go for orientation in the New York office leaving on Friday!  He had been made aware of this before joining so knowing New York is very warm in summer he’d bought a light weight suit.  This was going to be the first time in USA so it was very exciting so on the flight over it was non-stop talk with fellow passengers. The office turned out to be unaware of the practicalities on money, ie cash in the pocket.  They gave him sterling traveller cheques and no cash.  By chance he acquired a 5 dollar bill at Heathrow that turned out to be crucial.  The flight was due in at a reasonable time on Friday afternoon but then is the busiest time and it was diverted to Boston to await a later slot.  Consequently arrival time in New York was 1am.  That was his initiation into long days spent travelling.  The 5 bucks bought him transport to the Lexington Hotel on Lexington Avenue.  It seems like a miracle now but the hotel cashed sterling cheques so dollars became available.

The engineers at Mobil’s headquarters were most welcoming so he soon settled down with them.  The use of computers to model oil refinery processes loomed large.  Mobil’s technology created by Al Pizer and Neil Langley at the time was leading the field.  This made work interesting and exciting.  However cum Friday afternoon he was at a loose end for the weekend with only a hotel room to turn to.  These hiatuses lasted into September when Neil and one Don Lorch entered his life.  Don offered him accommodation in the apartment he shared with Hanna his Danish girl friend and Neil invited him to spend weekends at his house in Chappaqua.  He kept contact with Don and Hanna for the best part of 20 years but the association with Neil and Chappaqua lasted the rest of his life.  The three families were Neil and Jemma Langley with daughters Lexi, Nicky and Tori, Fritz and Betsy Wiedle with daughter Lisa and sons Christopher and Jonathan, Alan and Donna Morjikian with daughter Robin and son Mason.  The heritages were British, German and Armenia respectively.  At the time of writing Neil, Fritz and Donna have passed on.  Fritz and Betsy moved to Betsy’s home State of California in 1993. 

His career with Mobil was international.  It involved working in various place for various amounts of time and not the best for a family.  The longest spell away from Heather and the family was in Saudi Arabia from April 1976 to December 1977.  There he was part of a group from other companies.  It was a very social time outside of the 5½ day working week.  The site was situated by the Red Sea where the swimming was comfortable and the tropical fish were to be seen in abundance.  An extra mural activity was brewing beer and wine something that persisted long after that time.  Another unexpected consequence from the period in Saudi was no longer suffering from hay fever.  This condition had always been troublesome but the lack of pollen for that time effected a permanent cure.  The family visited during the 1977 summer holidays.  During that visit it became evident that all was not well with Heather.  After that it was obvious their interests were now widely divergent and this lead to them separating early in 1981.  He spent his 50th birthday in the October in a motel in the US albeit he’d been a spectator at an American football game as the guest of Don & Hanna the day before.  Between then and when he moved into a flat in August 1981 in Leigh on Sea it was the low point in his life.  The choice of Leigh on Sea was triggered by knowing the area and people from Shell Haven days.  The principals were Gerry and Tom from the skiing fraternity.  He joined Gerry’s  badminton group and played for several years.  Sadly they both passed away within a few years.  Gerry’s heart stopped in his sleep in Ibiza in 1986.  Tom who’d had a quadruple bypass followed shortly after.

During the 80’s work took him to many places in the world.  The longest spell was in Singapore working on a refinery modification project that he initiated at the engineering office in the USA.  It nearly ended in disaster when on start up a pipe blew a leak during the night that threatened to be set alight by traffic on a road close to the refinery.  He was on duty that night and was thankful to see the design built in fall back mechanism worked and stopped the flow from the leak.  After that he had two spells of living in Holland that ended in 1990. 

After separating in 81 as well as being overseas a lot he reconnected with family in Manchester.  This was mainly with Trish (his niece) and Jeff Jones and their young family Stephen and Laura.  He would bounce them on his knees so they really looked forward to his visits.  He also recalls going down the tunnels in the local water park.  They also visited him twice in the Netherlands.  In the 90’s when they had grown older climbing in the Lake District figured as did biking with Stephen.  That decade saw him do some long sponsored rides.  London to Southend was the shortest.  Then London to Brighton with Coryton Refinery colleagues next.  The longest were 100 milers in Norfolk and Cheshire. 

It was during the 80’s, 1988 to be exact that he met and got together with Christine.  That has not yet ended although in 2020 her long time MS made it necessary for her to go into sheltered accommodation in Wimbledon close to her family.  That was soon after buying his present house in Vernon Road, Leigh and courtesy of a party thrown by his neighbours Daphne and Roy Smith.

By the time he retired in 1996 the various places amounted to, USA, Netherlands, Germany, Japan, Singapore, Turkey and France as well as Saudi and England.  All except France happened after the separation.  The scope of work was always oil refinery projects.

The first days of retirement are similar to those days after sitting the final days of finals at university realising a long term commitment has vanished.  The difference with retirement is there are no more obligations whatsoever!  The world now revolves round domestic necessities and taking holidays.  The latter happened quickly.  A visit to see Peter Pye, classmate from school, in Normandy and 4 weeks after retirement date a round the world trip.  The itinerary was East and West coast USA, four places in Australia, Hong Kong and then home.  The people were Morjikians, Wiedles, Beccy in Melbourne, Don Haslam in Adelaide and Goddaughter Susie and Richard in Hong Kong.  At the time Susie was nursing their baby Jack.

Back home he started playing bridge at a local club and soon realised things had changed a lot so he went to night school to learn all the new stuff.  That only scratched the surface so from then on it was a case of continuous learning.  He was accepted into membership of 2 local clubs.  He has progressed thru the ranks of English Bridge Union but never quite made on to the winners boards in Thorpe Bay and but once at Leigh on Sea bridge club.

The next landmark was 2000 when they went on their first cruise shortly to be followed by being diagnosed with prostate cancer.  The diagnosis by Southend hospital was badly handled.  The first biopsies to check the indication of the antigen produced no confirmation so it was allowed to spread thus obviating surgery.  He underwent radiotherapy which was not successful and hormone treatment that was.  That was discontinued in 2008 so he is very much the lucky one in the family.  His cousin Roy Davis and nephew Peter Davis both succumbed to it at the age of 80.

In 2002 when the cancer panic had subsided he decided there is some mileage in him so he responded to an appeal by a local charity for an assistant treasurer.  Ironically they were looking because the incumbent was suffering prostate cancer!  This was his introduction to Southend Association of Voluntary Services aka SAVS.  There he found himself one of 15 trustees whose job was to steer the organisation by setting its policy.  David was soon the treasurer of an organisation with a £1 million turnover.  It was not overwhelming mainly due to the Chief Executive Maureen Frewin who was a very competent manager.  She was ably assisted by David Sarling the business manager.  He remained a trustee for the statutory 6 years.  During that time he became heavily involved in its project to set up a Credit Union.  That opened its doors in 2006.  He was first chair and then treasurer.  This amounted to going back to work again but for no pay.  It was forced to close in 2011 due to underfunding. 

During his time at SAVS he came across two ladies with whom he continued an association until one died while the other is still in the frame.  The one who is no more was Rita Weiss.  She and her husband Manny had been running a club by the name of ‘Southend & District Pensioners Campaign’ since 1985.  In 2006, by then Manny had passed away, she persuaded David to audit their accounts then two years later she was in dire need of a treasurer.  As he was equally needful of a chair for the Credit Union a deal was done.  Rita died in 2011 just days short of her 90th.  The other lady is Barbara Armitage, one time Mayoress of Southend.  She took over chair of S&DPC until 2017 and celebrated her 90th in 2019.

David was the son of a father who spent much of his life investing in stocks and shares.  Like father like son David has done the same.  In about 1996 Mike Lummis, a friend from Shell Haven days asked him to join an investment club to which he belonged.  That well suited David and has continued as an ongoing interest ever since as member, treasurer and chairman.  Early in 2021 the members decided to cash in and take the profit.  Mike and his wife Babs were very special friends over 60+ years.  Our chief interest was skiing where we were not much good but Mike was brilliant at finding hotels offering fantastic food.  Mike succumbed to a long term illness in 2017 but Babs who I think by an act of faith took over Mike’s interest in the investment club even tho she was on a very steep learning curve when it came to using his computer.

Altho I have tried to follow chronology some thing so far not mentioned is the Ramblers and walking in general.  The start was with Brian, next door neighbour, in the Lake District in 1946.  There I recall lugging an ex army rucksack from Youth Hostel to Youth Hostel and being perpetually hungry.  In those days the only way from one hostel to another was on foot.  20 years later they relaxed and allowed people to arrive by car.  The one climb he remembers is Helvellyn but that may have been in 1947 when he Brian and Jacque from France camped close to Lake Thirlmere.  That was an endless summer that compensated for its endless winter.  Next year we repeated with Brian, Martin Stansfield and Ken Brown only to suffer endless rain.  Fast forward to the early 90’s when he had been away form walking for all those years when Betsy Wiedle from Chappaqua days suggested doing the Wainwright coast to coast walk.  He agreed and did a couple of walks with the works group where he was stationed at the time.  During the evenings before he plotted out on paper the day by day progress.  It happened over 2 weeks in October 1992 before the clocks went back.  Despite wind, rain and coming close to having to spend the night on the path we were successful.  The start was St Bees on the Cumbria coast where we stayed with nephew Peter and Shirley.  The finish was Robin Hood’s Bay on the East coast where it was obligatory to put your foot in the water just to prove you had done it.  Also with Betsy the Cornwall costal path, Offa’s dyke, Cotswolds and the West Highland Way from Glasgow to Fort William followed.  Meanwhile he had joined the Rambles in Essex in September 1993 and thought nothing of walking 15 miles. 

After he became treasurer of SAVS it took on a project to set up Southend Credit Union. The original co-ordinator fell by the wayside leaving it to a committee to bring it to fruition.  The first priority was to secure funding.  The business plan was put together by a retired Council finance officer and presented to the European Union who approved it. This came after years of committee meetings but it now required us to set up a board of directors.  His position in the committee was vice chairman but he stood in for the chairman at the February 2006 meeting.  He came away from that with the posts filled and feeling like a wet rag. The Southend Credit Union opened for business in June 2006.

In the summer of 2007 he was on a Mediterranean cruise with Betsy.  One stop was Santorini where there was a long walk from the main street down to the waters edge.  That convinced him to get a cure for the protracted problem with his left knee.  In November he had it replaced.  After the surgery he had his doubts about its success but happily it did not stop him riding his bicycle.  After several months all was well but curiously he gave no thought to returning to serious walking until 2018! 

Nevertheless he had maintained his membership of the Ramblers so in 2017 he responded to a plea from the local group for a treasurer.  Even so it took the finding of a pair of comfortable walking boots in California to persuade him to walk them until a year later.  Now he walks with them up to 5 miles, leads them and the local U3A group.  In the autumn of 2019 shortly after the annual general meeting the chairman, Rodney Birks, suffered a short and fatal illness.  As the secretary, Steve Clarke, had already resigned it left him as the only surviving officer.  So, by default as no-one else volunteered, he became acting chairman, acting secretary and actual treasurer.

There is a note in his January 2020 diary of a disease originating in China.  Shortly after it became very apparent that this was no ordinary disease but a pandemic that spread effortlessly and at an amazing speed worldwide.  This heralded a spell of time when life became abnormal.  From total lockdown the summer came the expected improvement when it was again possible to get a haircut and go to a restaurant.  But this was followed by the prophets of doom’s second wave.  The one bright spot was the national celebration of the 75th anniversary of VE Day in early May.  Vernon Road was one big street party.  People chatted for hours.  By then both my neighbour’s houses had been bought by families with young children.  It is many years since that was the case.  Cum the autumn the virus was winning again and lockdown returned.  From the start pharmaceutical companies were working on producing a vaccine.   Late in the year three became available.  This in itself was remarkable because of the speed with which regulatory approval was granted.  It is also something of a commentary on the usual timing when it turns out that when something is needed that urgently it can be produced in a year rather than the ten year norm.

During 2020 Stock Markets went on a roller coaster but by early 2021 the Investment Club was showing a reasonable profit.  One member suggested folding and all quickly agreed.  The sums due to each member were agreed and 6 of the 7 members duly got their money.  The 7th was shielding at home so was late to present her cheque.  Horror, it bounced.  After what seemed like hours on the phone to the bank finally were told the standing order to transfer the monthly subs to the Stockbroker had not been cancelled so Juliet’s cheque would have made the account overdrawn hence it bounced.  Another snag that arose was TSB’s fee for going over.  Once this was repaid and the Share Centre admitted to an error the matter was resolved after two months.

2021 saw an event that usually happens once per decade.  A new car.  The local Hyundai dealer told him his present Hyundai is much in demand so he accepted the invitation to talk.  That lead to him buying a hybrid model the sort he’d had in mind ever since his cousin Trish got one. 

Two other expensive items figured in early 2021.  Sharps adverts for their wardrobes took his fancy and the car crash state of his bottom jaw teeth convinced him to do something.  Cum August both were in place and working well.

2021 saw David developing his membership of the local bowls club.  He joined it in June 2020 when it was only possible to play every 10 days due to the pandemic.  When it reopened in late March that changed to three times a week.  Experience on the green made the odd weather in spring unforgettable.  April was cold, windy and arid.  May was cold, windy and subject to showers and rain that April forgot.  From the moment he joined he was completely accepted and the membership qualified as the most amiable he has ever encountered.  It soon became known that he is a gardener.  Altho the green is kept short there about one foot on all edges that remains long.  It is beside the trough into which bowls that are disqualified fall.  He noted that weeds grow in the trough and the long grass needs trimming back from time to time.  He attended to both.

The club does not compete in any league but tries to arrange friendly games with other clubs.  During 2021 most of these were cancelled due to lack of support.  It says that a lot of members do not wish to compete.  In place there is the Monday club league.  Members are divided into four teams and matches are played each Monday thruout the season. 

2021’s new activity was joining the U3A French conversation group.  Ever since meeting Jacques Nauton he always spoke French with French people.  This hasn’t happened since going on the Orient Express in 2012 so having ‘envie de parlez français’ this was an opportunity. 

Once 2021 reached late July he became very much aware that his 90th was not far off.  Given that his great niece Laura now lives in the US but is in Manchester during August he decided that a premature birthday party for family and friends should be held while she and husband Nick are in Manchester. He put this idea to her and asked if she would contact the relatives.  One week later she had fixed the date and reported that all the relatives he knows and some not will be present.  At the very least this was a great relief.  Not long after catering was agreed and a cake in place.  The motif on the cake was well chosen.  A player in the act of launching a bowling wood.  The deliberate mistake was he is using his left hand.

Coincidentally July saw his ex decide to return to the UK from the Netherlands where she has been for many a year.  

Thoughts of his 90th crystallised into inviting family, neighbours and those in the five groups in which he is active.  As this was likely to be a large number he decided on having two ‘nibbles, natter and noggin’ Saturdays in October.  He found a suitable picture to head the invitations.  A man beside a penny farthing cycle.  Susie who does his domestic put him on to a caterer who turned out to be well appreciated.  The total attendance was 60.  

From September bowling moved to indoors at Rayleigh Leisure Centre.  It happens on a carpet which turns out to be far faster than the greensward.  To learn how to keep ones woods out of the ditch is a lesson that must be learned quickly.  Also there is far more side movement of the woods so the launch must be well left or right of the target jack.

Early in 2022 just when he was feeling invincible it turned out not to be the case.  After a bit of pottering in the back garden he was hit by a massive pain in his lower left leg.  It didn’t last but it left him almost unable to walk or bike as when doing so the pain returned.  His response was to book appointments with his doctor and a physiotherapist.  It turned out that neither was of help.  The problem was seriously reduced circulation.  Using the leg generated the usual lactic acid but it was not being carried away quickly enough.  Upon resting the reduced circulation caught up and the acid and pain went away.  On remaining in the house all was normal and pain free.  Walk to the letterbox around the corner produced agony.  While in this condition he saw an advert for an apparatus whose function is to improve circulation in the legs.  Having bought one it was dampening to see the treatment has to go on for at least 60 days.  The condition dragged on.  He got a referral to the hospital surgical vascular unit but when the appointment came it was for four months ahead.  In between these happenings he suffered stomach pain in mid April which stopped anything staying down.  This prompted a visit to the hospital A&E department.  From there he was taken into surgical assessment.  It was soon diagnosed as blood clot in the right kidney.  This lead to urine accumulating in his bladder such that a catheter was called for.  This would not go in far enough.  The problem solved itself as moments later the blood clot shot out.  The prescribed medication was eternal blood thinner.  After that he spent a week feeling well in Princess Anne ward waiting to be seen by the doctors team.  When this finally happened he was immediately discharged taking 6 weeks worth of blood thinner to be administered by injection.

It may have happened that the blood thinner could have helped or cured the leg circulation problem.  It did not.  The delay in treatment by the NHS prompted him to decide to go private.  After coming out of hospital life was very mixed.  A constant was the tenderness of his left ankle.  Walking short distances such as round the house was painless.  Even biking to bowls and playing for 3 hours turned out to be possible.  What was not was lying in bed.  This brought on excruciating pain.  Not dull or constant but shooting and stabbing.  His response was to spend nights sitting in a chair in the living room.  The pains were there but most nights stayed away long enough to get a reasonable amount of sleep.

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