Ever had one of those days where you get to the stage of saying “right 2020, you can just f*****g do one now”? I’ve finally reached that stage.
I knew today was going to be a struggle but I did my best to remain positive. Looking at the the heavy rain battering the bedroom window and listening to the high winds whipping the leaves off the trees I tried to put a positive spin and brave face on the pair of us self-isolating by saying “well, with weather like this, who really minds being stuck indoors?” After all, I had plenty to do and the day’s not been unproductive. I’ve managed to declutter the office, get some writing done and restart scanning old slides – with the intention of having the final batch of UK rail pictures done in the next couple of weeks. There’s only one problem. I don’t have any options as my freedoms have been eroded by Covid. And I do mean Covid, I’m not blaming the shambolic response to it from our kakistocratic Government (easy as it would be) because other countries citizens are in the same boat. We just happen to have a bunch in power who’re adding insult to injury. It’s the pandemic that’s the root of so many problems.
So, there was me plodding along, thinking ‘ho hum’ when I received the news of the death of an old and valued friend. Not from Covid, but from cancer. Major John Poyntz, formerly of Her Majesty’s Railway Inspectorate has passed away. In the next few days I’ll write more about John, right now I’m too upset to go into details. I first met John around 15 years ago and he and I and a small group of valued friends had many an adventure in Germany and the UK. You often hear the expression ‘they don’t make ’em like that anymore’ but in John’s case this is absolutely true – because of the times John lived through and the things he experienced through his military service in Malaya (as it was then) and later in West Germany during the cold war. He was a wealth of stories, has a wicked sense of humour, was always very dapper and – God – could he drink!
So, today’s picture of the day is in memory of John. I took it on the Harz railway in Germany on the 10th February 2007 and for me, it encapsulates who John was and why we both loved and respected him. Here he is at the train window, balancing a class of Glühwein on his notebooks as we trundle through the winter snow.
Rest easy Major.
Circumstances may rob us of our chance to pay our last respects to you for now, but be assured that, when the time is right, we’ll get together to raise several glasses in your memory and tell a few tales…
I’ve a favour to ask…
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One of the old school HMRI, straightforwardly honest and a pleasure to work with. Nobodies fool.
Sandra Fox said:
Hello Paul, I came across this blog by accident when trying to find out some information about John. I am his daughter Sandra and I read out your blog to my Mum Anne, she was very touched by your comments and asked me to remember her to you.
Paul Bigland said:
Hello Sandra, my humble apologies for the delay in responding. Please thank your mother for me. All the best, Paul
Lyndsey fox said:
This was so lovely to read. John was my Grandpa and the whole family miss him! It’s so nice to know how well loved he was
Paul Bigland said:
I can assure you that John was loved, respected – and is missed by so many people. Naming (another) loco in his memory is a fitting tribute. No doubt many of us will raise a glass to John after his memorial service in Wolverton in July.