Don't Eat With Your Mouth Full

Where can we live but days?

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Uncle Dan
Yesterday I attended my Uncle Dan's funeral in Teddington. He died aged 86, as did my father and grandfather before him. (My children have told me that I should do the same for the sake of tradition, but I'd rather follow my great-great grandfather's example and die at 97.)

His first names were Daniel Weeden, appellations that hark back to the Daniels and Weedens who throng my family tree in the hundred years from 1750-1850. Like many of them he was a sailor - although in his case not on the open ocean. For the Norfolk Broads, though, he was your man.

Dan was eccentric in the Butler fashion, in his case perhaps to excess - or so I gather from talking to his friends and neighbours yesterday. There was no animosity, but in the way of eccentrics my father and he each went their own tangential ways, meeting little in their final decades, and thus I barely saw him after early childhood. I think the last time was in 1998, when he came to my father's 80th birthday celebration. Mostly I remember his rather surreal home-made Christmas cards, involving trick photography, toy soldiers and castles made of sugar cubes, etc. Here's an example:

Dan 1966 Xmas

He was my father's youngest sibling, and with his death the last of the seven brothers, sisters, half-brothers, half-sisters and double-first cousins who made up my Aunt-and-Uncle-dom is now gone. Only my mother remains of that generation. Alone of all of them Dan never married or had offspring, thus I and my cousins were his next of kin at the funeral and ushered to the seats of honour, though in truth we knew him less well than most people there.

Anyway, I was asked to look through my voluminous Butler records for a photograph to be used in the Order of Service - if that's the proper phrase for what was in fact a rather proselytically Humanist event - and came up with the following, all carefully dated in my grandfather's hand. Like many of his family Dan had bright red hair, to which black-and-white photos do no justice, but here is my selection, taking him up to the mid-sixties, after which the record peters out (largely because my grandfather did). I think you can see a clear trajectory...

1935 Dan 35
1944 Dan 1944
1947 Dan 47
1956 Dan 1956
1962 dan 62
1967 Dan 1967 Xmas side 1

Like many of his family Dan had bright red hair, to which black-and-white photos do no justice, but here is my selection, taking him up to the mid-sixties, after which the record peters out (largely because my grandfather did). I think you can see a clear trajectory...

That's wonderful. Thank you.

His memory for a blessing.

Thank you.

I see the sequence as going from Just William to Salvador Dali, by way of Terry-Thomas.

Just so. What a splendid uncle! My condolences.

Nine

He looks like such an interesting guy. I am sorry for your loss.

Thank you.

My condolences. I quite like the 1956 picture, which makes him seem like someone I would have liked to have known myself!

That one has a touch of Terry-Thomas, I think - not so much in the moustache as in the eyes and smile.

I think anyone would guess he had red hair from those photos. What a nice, expressive, humorous face. Did he have that kind of reddy-brown eyes that sometimes go with red hair, or hazel, or what?

I've been thinking of the Norfolk Broads (which I have never seen) recently, as legionseagle was posting about Ransome's Dorothea Callum. I suppose he would have been only a little younger than the Callums.

Did he have that kind of reddy-brown eyes that sometimes go with red hair, or hazel, or what?

I'm not sure. My father (also red-haired, though not by the time I knew him) had bright blue eyes, the colour of speedwell, so perhaps Dan was the same.

I've never been to the Norforlk Broads: I've been saving them up, along with the Lake District, but perhaps I should set about seeing these places soon!

Condolences. And I agree. 86 is fine , but given a choice let's both take 97.

It's a deal.

I like your uncle enormously.

What happened in 1962? His face seems to have changed shape and morphed into a premonition of Ricky Gervais.

I suspect he may have discovered the joys of draught bitter by that time, or perhaps his metabolism had slowed down enough for the beer to catch up.

that is a FANTASTIC CARD!

It made a nice change from robins and carol singers!

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