That seems likely. Conversely: if people are still talking about my work 7½ years after I die it’ll probably be to say “who wrote this bit of legacy code this way and what were they thinking?”
You know how when your life is busy time seems to creep by so slowly… you look back and say “do you remember the time… oh, that was just last week!” Well that’s what my life’s been like, of late.
There was Milestone: Jethrik and the Three Rings Conference, of course, which ate up a lot of my time but then paid off wonderfully – the conference was a wonderful success, and our announcements about formalising our non-profit nature and our plans for the future were well-received by the delegates. A slightly lower-than-anticipated turnout (not least because of this winter ‘flu that’s going around) didn’t prevent the delegates (who’d come from far and wide: Samaritans branches, Nightlines, and even a representative from a Community Library that uses the software) from saying wonderful things about the event. We’re hoping for some great feedback to the satisfaction surveys we’ve just sent out, too.
Hot on the heels of those volunteering activities came my latest taped assessment for my counselling course at Aylesbury College. Given the brief that I was “a volunteer counseller at a school, when the parent of a bullied child comes in, in tears”, I took part in an observed, recorded role-play scenario, which now I’m tasked with dissecting and writing an essay about. Which isn’t so bad, except that the whole thing went really well, so I can’t take my usual approach of picking holes in it and saying what I learned from it. Instead I’ll have to have a go at talking about what I did right and trying to apply elements of counselling theory to justify the way I worked. That’ll be fun, too, but it does of course mean that the busy lifestyle isn’t quite over yet.
And then on Tuesday I was a guest at the UK Bus Awards, an annual event which my dad co-pioneered back in the mid-1990s. I’d been invited along by Transaid, the charity that my dad was supporting with his planned expedition to the North Pole before he was killed during an accident while training. I was there first and foremost to receive (posthumously, on his behalf) the first Peter Huntley Fundraising Award, which will be given each year to the person who – through a physical activity – raises the most money for Transaid. The award was first announced at my father’s funeral, by Gary Forster, the charity’s chief executive. Before he worked for the charity he volunteered with them for some time, including a significant amount of work in sub-Saharan Africa, so he and I spent a little while at the event discussing the quirks of the local cuisine, which I’d experienced some years earlier during my sponsored cycle around the country (with my dad).
So it’s all been “go, go, go,” again, and I apologise to those whose emails and texts I’ve neglected. Or maybe I haven’t neglected them so much as I think: after all – if you emailed me last week, right now that feels like months ago.
Before he died earlier this year, one of the last pieces of work my dad had done in his career as a transport consultant was to visit Trent Barton bus company and make some suggestions about how the new “The Threes” service should be branded and launched. Following his death, Trent Barton decided to honour my father’s memory by naming one of their brand new vehicles after him, and my sister Sarah and I went up to Nottingham to attend the naming ceremony.
I’m not sure that they expected me to attend. I’m certain that they didn’t expect me to bring a bottle of Guinness Original with me. But I had a plan: when the moment seemed right, I got everybody’s attention and – explaining that my dad was never really a wine drinker but enjoyed a good stout – christened the vehicle with a spray of beer.
I think that this is a wonderfully fitting tribute to a man who did so much for the transport industry, and – based on the mutterings I heard at the naming ceremony – I wouldn’t be the only one to think that perhaps other bus companies ought to have done the same! In any rate, as I joked to my sister: “My dad would have been delighted to know that now all of the young ladies of Nottingham can ride on Peter Huntley all day.”
If you find yourself in the vicinity of Nottingham, keep an eye out for a big orange Optare Versa, registration YJ12 PKU. That’s Peter Huntley you’re riding, too.
Further reading: another take, including a photo of the new bus driving around.
Friday was the day of my dad’s funeral. If you’ve just tuned in, you might like to see my blog post about his death, and a second article about the things that have been hardest, so far, in its aftermath. I’m not inclined to say too much, so I’ll be brief and let pictures, and a video, tell the story. As usual, you’ll find that you can click on the pictures to enlarge them.
A remarkable number of people turned up to mark my dad’s passing on this sad occasion. I was genuinely surprised to see how many lives he’d touched (and to hear about a great many more from people who couldn’t make it). About 350 people struggled to fit in to the cramped crematorium, and many had to stand outside where – thankfully – there were repeater speakers.
My sisters and I were determined that this event would be a celebration of our father’s life. So rather than focusing on his tragic and premature death, we made every effort to commemorate his achievements and reinforce the lessons that we can all learn from his time with us. In a similar vein, we’d told everybody that we had the chance to that there was no need to wear black for this funeral: that people should wear what’s appropriate to them for their personal act of mourning and remembrance.
We’d hired a former minister, Ken Howles, to provide a (thoroughly secular, under threat of non-payment!) framework for the service, but we “rolled our own” so far as possible. Seven individual tributes and eulogies were given by people representing different aspects of my dad’s life: from my mother, from his partner, from the friend with whom he was walking on the day he died, from the managing directors of the company he founded and the company he last worked for, from the chief executive of the charity he was fundraising for, and – finally – from me.
The contrast between the different tributes was stark and staggering, reflecting the huge variety in the different facets of my father’s life. From guerrilla gardening to trainspotting, lessons learned to tyres pulled, we collectively painted a picture of the spectrum of my dad’s life. The tributes given were, in order:
- My mother, Doreen (watch), who talked about their adventures together as young adults and the roots of his career in transport
- His partner, Jenny (watch), who shared the experiences they’d had together, and mourned for those that they would not
- His friend, John (watch), who let us in on the things that they’d talked about during my dad’s final hours
- Adrian, the managing director of the company my dad founded (watch), on his success in the world of transport consultancy, and working with him
- A break in the middle to watch a video of my dad singing karaoke
- Kevin, the managing director of Go North-East (watch), on the subject of my dad’s recent career and influence on British transport
- Gary, chief executive of TransAid (watch), announced the future creation of the Peter Huntley Fundraising Award, and thanked my dad and his supporters on behalf of the dozens of charities my dad helped
- And finally, me (watch), contrasting all of the above by talking about what my dad was like as a father and a friend, and the lessons we can learn from him
If you can’t watch YouTube where you are, you can also read the full text of my personal eulogy here.
Afterwards, we held a wake at Grimsargh Village Hall which, on account of the sheer number of bus industry attendees, rapidly became a micro-conference for the public transport sector! It was great to have the chance to chat to so many people who’d worked with my dad in so many different contexts.
Between hot food provided by a local caterer, cold savories courtesy of Jenny’s daugher Eppie, and a copious quantity of cakes baked by Ruth, there was an incredible superfluity of food. These two, plus JTA, Paul, and Eppie’s boyfriend James, provided a spectacular level of “behind-the-scenes” magic, keeping everything running smoothly and ensuring that everything happened as and when it was supposed to.
We set up a “memory book”, in which people could write their recollections of my dad. I haven’t had time to read much of it yet, but one of them stands out already to me as a concise and simple explanation of what we achieved at the crematorium that day. It reads:
“Great funeral, Peter. Sorry that you missed it.”
It was certainly a great send-off for a man who did so much for so many people. Thank you so much to everybody who made it such a success, and to everybody who, in the meantime, has donated to TransAid via my dad’s JustGiving page (or by giving us cash or cheques at or after the funeral). You’re helping his memory live on, for everybody: thank you.
I’ve had a couple of moderately hectic days, and somehow haven’t found time to tell you all about them yet. Let’s see what I can remember:
The Tale Of Troma Night 50
Troma Night 50 was a success: a chance to re-watch some of the films that made Troma Night’s 1 and 2 so… bizarre. And it was great to see folks like JTA, Andy, and Liz returning once more to the enlightened watchers of awful films (Liz reports favourably on Troma Night 50).
The Tale In Which Geek Night Returns
And just to make the weekend that little bit more fun, we had a (long-missed) Geek Night on Sunday night: two games of Chez Geek and one of Carcassonne. Sadly, my copy of Munchkin hasn’t arrived yet. The idiots who were supposed to be sending it to me addressed the package as follows:
…completely missing the address line. And then they were surprised when the package was returned to them by the post office. Grr.
The Tale Of Kit And The “Awwww” Chain
It’s kind of sweet that Kit’s posted a declaration of love onto his blog. And now everybody’s posting a whole chain of “Awwww” responses. Looks like I’m not the only one who found this a happy little uplifting post. It’s the little things, really.
The Tale Of The Students Who Couldn’t Use A Bus
Yesterday, riding my usual bus to work (the 526 to Penryncoch) we stopped, as usual, as the bus stop on North Parade. At this time of year, all the students have returned and a lot of them can be seen at this bus stop waiting for the morning ‘university service’ bus to take them up the hill. Obviously these particular students are unable to read, because events unfolded a little like this:
First Student: Up to the university, please.
Bus Driver: This bus doesn’t go to the university.
<university service bus pulls up behind>
First Student: Oh. Can I just go up the hill then?
Bus Driver: No; this bus isn’t going up the hill. This bus is going to Penryncoch.
First Student: Oh.
<first student gets off bus again, making room for second student – stood behind first student – to step up to the driver. meanwhile, students are getting on the double-decker parked behind, which has the words “University Service” on the front. second student puts a ten pound note in the cash tray and stares at the driver>
Bus Driver: Where are you going?
<second student spends two or three seconds staring at the driver with a look on her face that implies that she’s never heard of buses going anywhere other than to her destination>
Second Student: To the university!
<the university service bus pulls out and overtakes us, and starts going up the hill>
Bus Driver: No. This bus does not go to the university. This bus does not go up Penglais Hill at all. This bus is going to Penryncoch. That’s why the large luminescent letters on the front of the bus say… Penryncoch.
How difficult can it be? You’re probably a second year or above, now (by the fact that you’re presumably living in town) – pull your finger out.
The Tale Of Claire Getting A Job
I found myself in Game a couple of days ago, where a student was applying for a position working for them in the run-up to Christmas. They turned him down flat, of course, because he was planning to leave town as soon as term finished – 18th December, or thereabouts – which kind-of defeats of the object of Christmas staff. But “a-ha”, I thought, and grabbed an application form for Claire, who applied and was subsequently snapped-up. So Claire’s got a job again, which is nice.
The major side effect of this is that it’s very liklely that we’ll both be spending Christmas in Aberystwyth. Which is unusual and kind-of scary. Still; we’ve agreed that we’ll try and zip around the country and visit our respective families the following week, if we can’t manage to do so otherwise (Claire will be working on both Christmas Eve and Boxing Day). Hmm… Nothing more to add to that at the moment, so “Hmm” will do.
In other news, she’ll probably get a staff discount. Yay. =o)
The Tale That Involves The Technium
SmartData is moving by instalments. By this time week-after-next, we ought to be in our shiny new WDA-sponsored office in the newly-built Aber Technium, on the harbour’s edge. This is a win for several reasons:
- I can walk to work. I mean – I can meaningfully walk to work. A one-hour walk, like where we are not, isn’t “meaningful”.
- We’ll have a 2Mbit dedicated line, with no contention. I smell DVD downloads.
- We have a bigger office, shiny new desks, a proper server room, a meeting room of our own, and a balcony.
- We’ll have a new 0845 phone number, which looks all shiny and professional.
- If I get my way <big grin>, we’ll also have a digital whiteboard and projector. Toy.
Will keep you posted.
I’m wasting time and I have plenty to get on with, so that’s enough of an update for now. Kittens.
I’m off to Malawi!
I’ve found my bus ticket (stupid train strikes), my passport (stupid immigration laws), my juggling balls (stupid… no, wait… juggling is good)… I guess I’m ready to go.
Contrary to my assumption that my bus would be leaving from the bus station, it’s apparently leaving from Plascrug… which is… somewhere… hmm…
Anyway, y’all, take care, have fun without me, blah blah blah, be thinking of you. Will try to update this blog (or at least phone-in an update that can be appended as a comment) while I’m on the road. And sorry I couldn’t get Product ‘X’ working better than it does before I left.
Hugz & kittenz;