I have been asked by friends and relatives for a copy of the eulogy I gave at my father’s funeral on Friday 24th June 2011, so I have published the text here along with some photographs. He was a wonderful Dad and a close friend. He leaves a great void in my life and I will miss him greatly. He is survived by his three children, Clare, Simon and Helen and his wife of 36 years, Anne.
An American writer named Robert Brault once said: ‘enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.’ Today, I’d like to briefly share with you a few of the little things that we remember that make us so grateful to have had Peter as our dad and as a husband to our mum.
Now I’m sure that all of you all knew Peter for different reasons: perhaps as an enthusiastic member of your cricket team; as the guy who helped you to get a mortgage for your first home; as the man with the loudest sneeze in the known universe. Some of you knew him as Father Ted; as the man in the van who delivered parts for cars; or even as the hardworking roadie for a talented, yet criminally overlooked, Liverpool band.
We knew Peter as a man you could laugh with, share a beer with, or rely on for the most consistent and unfailing support. It was really through music that my relationship developed with my Dad. Many of you may not be aware, but Peter helped me to start a record label based out of our loft at home and to set up a small recording studio there. He was a risk taker. He was also an excellent secretary and accounts man, and he carried out administrative duties both for our musical enterprises and for the Cheshire Lines Cricket Club, his home away from home. There were many nights when, as teenagers, my sisters and I were subjected to a late night recounting of the day’s events on the cricket field as he talked us, ball by ball, through his ‘knock’.
When it came time to take my music on the road, Peter drove the tour bus – to no less than 80 shows – stopping only to sell CDs to audience members. I don’t think he’d mind me saying that his cockney sales patter came in handy. Though, I promise you that he did avoid all use of rhyming slang. Whether it was London to Liverpool or Edinburgh to Manchester, Peter was always there for us and always just one of the boys.
Our dad supported all of our endeavours, whether with music, Clare’s career in journalism, visiting Helen during her time studying languages in Seville and later with her teaching. He facilitated our dreams through his relentlessly positive attitude. Indeed, he was an optimist and his approach to finding the positive things in each and every day is a lesson that has given my mum, my sisters and I, enormous strength.
One of the most common remembrances that we’ve received from Peter’s friends is that he was thought of as a gentleman, and we are very proud of that. He always conducted himself with dignity, grace and class – except if he was doing DIY. He took home improvements so seriously, he could make rewiring a plug seem like he had just diffused a ticking bomb. And he was a master of employing exactly the right expletive for the occasion.
Peter really was an amazingly laid back Dad and husband. I recall the time that I borrowed his car for a trip to Birmingham. When I arrived there, I pulled onto a driveway where a gate had been removed and a rusty spike had been left sticking out. It scored a huge dent right along the side panel. I took the car home, head in hands, and explained what I had done. He went outside to inspect the damage. He leaned over to examine the huge hole in his paintwork and said: “looks much worse than I thought it would.” Then he went inside and put the telly on. He never scolded me; never asked me to pay for repairs; never even mentioned it, ever again. Although he took pride in everything, he was much more concerned with whether we were happy than what happened to his material possessions.
Peter had a memorable laugh and a great sense of humour; except when he was doing the crossword. He was so intent on solving it, you’d think it was the Enigma code. And then he would only allow my Mum to fill in the missing words on a Friday night before the next crossword arrived in Saturday’s paper. He’d even call my sister Helen for clues before finally admitting defeat and handing it over to his wife.
He was a generous dad, husband and grandfather. In our youth, he took us all on many wonderful family holidays abroad, many of them to Turkey, where he diligently monitored any potential suitors that approached Helen and Clare, and he never resisted spending whatever he had to ensure that we had a wonderful experience. I will never forget a trip that my father and I took together to New York a couple of years ago, where his positivity and enthusiasm became truly inspiring to me. He found wonder in the world and he was not jaded. His passion for life was infectious.
Peter lived his life with no regrets. He was a courageous and brave man and a wonderful husband. He loved the simple things in life, and we like to think that they were the important things. Those were some of the reasons that we loved him. We’d like to say thanks to you all for being here today, for the kindness that you have given to him and to us. Thank you for sharing in his life.