A gentle man

My last picture of Chris. His hat, his coffee.

Tuesday lunchtime I received an email with the tragic news about my friend @infernaldepart. My friend. Our friend. A gentle, kind and thoughtful man.

Chris and I met on Twitter. Sharing ideas about technology and learning, and we met in person when he asked me to deliver esafety sessions at his school for parents and students.

We became friends and shared much in common. For both of us the last two years have been deeply challenging. Our personal lives in turmoil and extremely challenging times at work – and yet, our meetings and times together were always full of smiles and plans.

We would meet at Blakes, an unusual and quirky coffee house in Newcastle. Each meeting followed the same routine; we’d greet each other with a handshake, ask how we were – and always reply ‘Fine’. I’d say; ‘So, that’s the lies out the way’ and he’d smile.

Our Blakes time was a personal amnesty for both of us. Time to chat about ordinary things.. and learning. We always talked about edtech. The conversations on the web. Things we’d read, tools we’d discovered and his plans for digital badges and his students.

And he talked about James, his son.  He was so proud of James and no father loved his son more. He’d tell me about James’ most recent football game and I’d ask; ‘Did they win?’ and Chris would smile and say ‘No’ – like I’d missed the point. He was so very, very proud of his boy, and match results were of no consequence. Sometimes James would come too, and we would laugh and talk, pals together. Be in no doubt James, your dad loved you so very much and you were, without any doubt, a constant source of happiness and pride.

There were also times when @caroljallen would join us, and her mischievous humour would make each of us laugh like fools. Chris, egged on by Carol, would mock me for my ‘peculiar ways’. I became the butt of their jokes and we would spend time together, one moment talking quietly and moments later rocking on our chairs with laughter.

So, James, I want you to know your dad was a good man. A very good man. A man I feel privileged to have known and one who so many of us respected and admired.

And we will miss him so much.


4 Responses to A gentle man

  1. Phil Allan says:

    This is a very heartwarming piece about my brother, i loved it and can picture him with his wry smile . Glad he met someone like you..such a great loss of a top guy.

  2. Simon, this is lovely. This is the Chris I know. Always hard-working, always ready to go out of his way to help others. Like you, I was impressed by his deep love for his son – he talked about him all the time. Sorely missed by all.

  3. Bill G says:

    Thanks Simon. I didn’t know him very well – we only met face to face once or twice at #CurryNE when he was able to come, but I followed your twitter exchanges with joy. He unknowingly touched so many other lives and passed on his many enthusiasms..

  4. Lisa Allan says:

    James said thank you and its a very nice comment. He knows everyone is sad like him. James will always know how much Chris loves him and fantastic blogs like this will help us remember. Thank you again from the bottom of my heart

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