Monday, March 5, 2012

My Dad

(sorry, appalling photo, will change once i scan more of the old pics)
Below I have reproduced the Reading from my darling Dads funeral, please don't feel obliged to read, it's there for those loved ones and friends that for one reason or another couldn't attend.

Richard John Longstaff – known as Richie to loved ones, Dick to friends and colleagues, Daddy to his two children and Babar to his grandchildren.
Richard was born in June 1939 just as the war started, he was very close to his Mother (Sylvia) as, until the end of the war, it was just the two of them living together with his father (Jack) being away in the Army. His first true memory of his father was when he was dragged by his ear by a Constable to face the music after being caught with friends playing on the railway tracks near home in Lilliput. In the spirit of those times he received a hiding, he and his fathers relationship was very much of those authoritarian times until far into his adult years when they became very close, a combination of mutual respect, mellowing of age as well as their shared interests of sailing, golf and a deep love of Africa.
Richards big love was music, first as a choirister at Hustpierpoint School, then Lonnie Donegans form of skiffle, swiftly followed by Rock and Roll, the blues, country music (but not country and western which he considered an abomination), throughout his life he played in bands, even being asked at one point to play for Adam Faith he was never sure if it was actually a good thing he turned the opportunity down. In Malawi he formed one group named ‘The Lilongwe Leftovers’ a reference to the other main band there being a folk band, a form of music he and his fellow musician leftovers refused to play. In Dar es Salaam he and a group of like minded individuals all drawn from one Aid programme or another formed Rockbottom, playing loud Rock and Roll covers for weddings, Yacht Club Balls and parties. His teenage children like most teenagers found it profoundly embarrassing to turn up with friends to parties to find a parent in the limelight, parents should be not be seen or heard! There was no escaping Dick the Riffers electric guitar thrashing out Jumping Jack Flash – his only saving graces being, he was a profoundly talented guitarist, and he tended to stand at the back behind the drummer with the ever present fag hanging out of the corner of his mouth. The band Rockbottom can still be seen playing in Dar, now known as Roots and Rockers with only one original bandmember, Joel Strauss, a close friend and the owner of the most amazing gravel toned singing voice Richard had ever heard.
Richard spent his career in the Civil Service, a large proportion of that time was spent working in Africa a place he loved, for its people, the work that he felt was so important, the opportunity to see animals in their natural habitat, plus of course playing golf and sailing year round. He was deeply saddened that due to ill health he would not be able to see it one last time, although he blamed it on the fact that he didn’t manage to see the snow capped peak of Kilimanjaro as he flew out for the last time from Tanzania in 2007 having visited his daughter and her family in Mafia Island. Richard loved his work, he was very proud to have been involved with the work on the Uganda Emergency and the aftermath and clearing up of the Falkland War, he credited both as the reasons he was selected for postings to Malawi and Tanzania. He was not so pleased towards the end of his career that his beloved ODA became in his words ‘the bloody Welsh office’ a reference to the fact that the acronym DFID when pronounced as a word sounded like a welsh county. Due to his love of English Rugby, Wales was simply beyond the pale.

Richard was very close to his grand-daughters, Maddie and Scarlet due to having lived with his daughter and her family for the first two years after he retired. On his first seeing Maddie several hours after her birth he was very emotional due to her being the first born of his first born. Sadly he only spent the first month of Georgias life with her as she left the UK at that point and has yet to re-visit the country of her birth. His grand-daughters lived in hysterical dread of ‘Mr Hand-fly’ Richard would waggle his hands which to them then became separate to their beloved Babar and became a tickle machine. His God son Harvey knew him as Mr Tickle – he always found the spot you were most ticklish and exploited it mercilessly.

Richard was a life long Man United fan, never happier than when taunting his son in law Jon about the misfortunes of Blackburn Rovers in relation to the giddy heights of the top of the Premiership table where his beloved team spent so much time.
He had an enormous capacity for friendship, never a fair weather friend he could be relied on for loyalty and support in the bad times as well as being a fun loving party animal during the good ones.
As you entered here today you will have heard Dick the Riffer and his band Rockbottom playing, please remember him with joy not sadness.

1 comment:

  1. Happy memories of times spent with the Longstaffs in Dar, on the slopes of Kili at Lyamungu and in Arusha. Remembered with much joy RIP RJL.