WATKINS, Alan Edward - Born 21-Jan-1928 - Died 25-May-2011
Alan Edward WATKINS
Born 21-Jan-1928 - Died 25-May-2011
Kenneth Loraine and Desmond John
who have pre-deceased him.
His Wife of 59 years, Brenda
Their Son Simon
The Eulogy Delivered by Simon Watkins
The Funeral of Alan Watkins on 10-June-2011
My Father was born in Pontypridd, South Wales, on the 21st January 1928, and moved to Yate in Gloucestershire, at the age of 2. He attended school at Chipping-Sodbury Grammar, where he met my Mother who he was destined to marry 7 years later.
At 18 he left school and with National Service to complete attended Army Officer Training at Aldershot, getting his pip at 21.
In 1950 at 22, when both his brothers were working on Bahrain, Des running his own business marketing pumps and Ken working for BAPCo. at an oil facility on the island, he joined them, and worked there for 13 years. During that time he came back to England to marry my Mother, Brenda Corbett on 23-February-1952, and take her back with him to Bahrain.
Once my Mother was there, making Father more palatable, they met and became lifetime fast friends with Bob and Elizabeth Turnbull.
On returning to England in 1963, my Father and Mother, together with Bob and Elizabeth, started a hairdressing business in Darnley Road in Gravesend. Ultimately, in the economy and timing, the business proved unsustainable and the four pursued different careers.
My Father started at Barclay’s in 1968; where he worked for the next 35 years at a London branch, as head of the foreign department; until his retirement 18 years ago in 1993.
My Father enjoyed his retirement. He was able to spend more time with friends and family, and also to take up golf, which I know brought him both joy and frustration, although I can't say in what ratio.
He had a deep interest in the classics. He could quote at length from poems and plays alike. He also enjoyed many classical composers, and I remember he would listen to them at length in the evening to “decompress” from life in London. His taste in music was not limited to the conventional classics; he enjoyed jazz and blues and had a collection with many of the greats.
My Father did not make friends easily, although the ones he did have lasted all his life. My Father was strongly loyal to both friends and family, and I believe he would have done anything had they called upon him in need. I think this can best be exemplified when my Grand Mother, Mabel Gill, was unable to live alone and in 1969 Father took her into our home. With the exception of holidays to other family members, Mabel lived with us until her death in 1994. I think you would all agree, not many men would have housed their Mother-in-Law for 25 years.
For recreation I know that above all things he enjoyed debate. Usually taking a devils-advocate position in what would first appear to be an indefensible argument. The more contentious and provocative the better. A particular favorite was that “there was no such thing as altruism”. That at the bottom of all human actions was self interest in one form or another.
This was symptomatic of an underlying cynicism that I think he was not always at ease with!
He did however recognize this, and once confided in me “It's unfortunate that I am a pessimist and yet still get disappointed when the worst happens, ... seems rather self-defeating”.
However, perhaps as some of the best humor is the darkest, it did make him bloody funny.
My Father was extremely athletic. He was Games Captain at school and set many track and field records. In fact, when my Mother and Father were invited back for an alumni dinner 12 years later, my Mother noted that one of his records was still standing, an impressive record in the long-jump, it would be interesting to see when that particular record fell.
He was highly competitive and did very well at almost any sport he tried.
Ultimately he was the most formative influence in my life. The debate made me think. The humor helped me with friends and colleagues, and the cynicism prepared me for the world.
I'm sure my Mother can correct me, although I think it was somewhere between the ages of 2 and 3 when I first learned the expression “whoever told you life was going to be fair?”.
Although never effusive, I know he loved me very much.
In my early adulthood, I took to riding motorcycles. I loved riding them, I just wasn't very good at it! Not being a parent myself, I can't imagine what this did to my folks each time I went out. However, when I came to buy my first large motorcycle, I was unable to arrange the necessary finances, that was until he came with me and underwrote the loan – putting aside his fears for my love of riding.
Not always the most patient of men, he was when it counted.
He taught me to drive and he did so without a raised word or an angry tone – although there was a certain amount of sarcasm.
He was very forgiving to me.
On one occasion when I was 15, I was left in the family car in a supermarket car park – with the keys. In the infinite wisdom of youth, I thought I’d turn the car round.
Events unfolded - - - - badly!
On facing my Father that night, he simply said “are you planning on doing that again?”.
I replied “no”.
To which he said “alright, lesson learned”.
He was my Dad. I miss him now and I know I always will.