I met Brian in 2004. I transferred from West End Central Police Station in Mayfair, London, to the Diplomatic Protection Group, part of Special Operations, based near Trafalgar Square.
Brian was a constable there, something of an expert in communications. More than something in fact, a real font of knowledge. He had been in the group for over twenty years. During that time, he had accumulated an unparalleled knowledge of everything to to with that organisation. There was nothing he didn’t know about Embassies, and his wealth of contacts was legendary. In addition, his grasp of all the tiny details required to make our job work knew no bounds. He was our ‘go to’ man, in every way imaginable.
As a new joiner, I asked him many questions, and he generally answered them, though he valued his ‘secrets’, which were many. We established a working bond, although he was a few years younger than me. Over the next eight years, we also became firm friends, giving each other a lot of respect in the process. I got to know something about his wife and family, and we became close.
In 2011, he had exceeded his service requirement in the Metropolitan Police. After a long career, it was finally time to go. He and his wife chose to retire to a house in Norfolk, very close to the area that Julie and I had also bought our retirement home. Not long after we moved here, in 2012, we went over to see Brian and his wife, and they became our ‘local’ friends immediately.
Retirement started well for them. Good pensions ensured decent holidays, no mortgage, two cars, and a good lifestyle. Then Brian contracted male breast cancer, something most unusual. He went ahead with a double mastectomy, and made an excellent recovery. He got to enjoy numerous cruises, a comfortable life, and the companionship of his devoted wife, successful children, and the arrival of grandchildren too.
In the meantime, we met up now and again. We enjoyed meals at various local restaurants, and social time at each other’s houses. We also looked after each other’s dogs, and kept in touch on a regular basis. If we didn’t meet up for any reason, we communicated by telephone. We were each other’s local friend, and happy to be so.
This afternoon, I received the sad news that Brian had died. He had an undiagnosed bowel tumour, and this had caused him to attend hospital on Wednesday. By the time they discovered the problem, it had burst, and he died this morning. Younger than me, with a decent pension, and lots left to do in life. Children and grandchildren to cherish, a wife to love, and so many plans for a comfortable future. Yet he is gone; and I am shocked and surprised this evening.
I am really trying to stay positive this year, I really am. It’s not getting any easier though.
RIP ‘Big Brian’. You are sorely missed.
Staying positive, in 2017. (Just)