Wednesday, 20 July 2005

I'll Miss You, Mate...


I last saw Phil Barnes at my first wedding, on 1st July, 2000. That's just over five years ago. Before that I think we'd only met up once in 8 years, since Fil went to teach in Hong Kong and married his lovely wife Teresa.

Fil and Teresa had a lovely son, named Aleks, who must be 5 or 6 now. I've never met him.

This evening I had a phone call from a good friend to tell me that Phil died in a car accident, in Hong Kong, in March or April this year. His friends in the UK are only just beginning to get the news now, as Teresa had brought his address book over for his parents to go through...

Phil Barnes was one of the very few people in this world who could always make me laugh. I've attached a few pictures of him here as a sort of inadequate memorial. The black & white one was taken in 1990 when Phil, myself and our housemate, Frank, spent an afternoon dressing as our heroes, villains, or imaginary superheroes - I took some pictures of the results. I'm not entirely sure what Phil's doing here - but at one point he was dressed as Captain Underpantsonhishead. We were all in our mid-20s and we weren't drunk or doing drugs - that's just the sort of insanity that Phil got off on.

At University, he was the driving force behind writing our own insane version of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves.

He was one of the best drummers I've ever seen. Not many amateurs can replicate the work of Neil Peart. Phil could. He could also play the piano, deliberately badly (Les Dawson style) with his trousers round his ankles.

He was one of the kindest, cleverest and funniest people it has been my pleasure to know.

I always assumed that, one day soon, we would meet up for a few pints, to talk about the old days, laugh like drains, and that I would introduce Kathleen to him and she would know what a wonderful person he was.

But now I know that this will never happen and this makes me sadder than I have been in a very long time.

Fil, I'll miss you, mate. I hope I kept your letters somewhere... Memories of you are already fading fast and I'll need reminding what a special person you were.

God bless.



10 comments:

Joe said...

I don't know if you'll read this, if not it doesn't matter, but if so sorry for bringing up memories.

Phil Barnes was my maths teacher at KGV school for three years. He made fun of my hair, and when he got bored would slide over on his chair to tell me and my friend jokes.
Towards the end of my last GCSE year (about the same time Mr Barnes dragged my grades from D's to A's) we'd have discussions about music, and he turned me onto the dead kennedies - at which point I developed an inherent love for punk. He watched the band I fronted all the times we played at the school, and once gave me the aside 'That was alright you know.' It made my week.

We followed Aleck's growth through Phil's stories, moods, and several pictures. Few things have saddened me more than the fact that Alecks will only have the stories of others through which to know his dad.

When he died I realised that he was more than a teacher. I looked to him for approval, in the same way one looks at a parent or a mad uncle. Like you said in your post, I thought about how me and Mr. Barnes would meet up when I was in uni or something, and have a pint.

I wanted to say something to his wife, but didn't. Didn't write in the memories book either, figured a personal message would be best, but being an athiest never figured out how I'd manage it.

So this is it, late as ever. I miss you Mr. Barnes, I'm sorry you died.

He'd get the gist.

PT said...

Hi Joe,

Fil would understand. That's what made him so special.

From what I've seen and heard he was a most inspirational teacher. And not necessarily in his 'official' subjects!

Thanks for leaving you memories here.

Sandy Gray said...

I didn't know Phil very well other than a couple of chats in the staff room at KGV. But one day he stepped in to help me out, the same way he was going to step in to help our daughter out with raising her maths grade.

That was the kind of person he was. I remember walking past him one day as we crossed paths in the quad beside AN1. I had done something which he obviously found highly amusing. I thought that was quite alright that he found it amusing. Him laughing as we passed each other broke the awful heavy silences that were common between staff at KGV.

I didn't know Phil very well other than a couple of chats in the staff room at KGV. But one day he stepped in to help me out, the same way he was going to step in to help our daughter out with raising her maths grade. Both were timely, totally unselfish gestures of help & advice for no other purspose than that he was a real gent.

That was the kind of person he was. I remember walking past him one day as we crossed paths in the quad beside AN1. I had done something which he obviously found highly amusing. I thought that was quite alright that he found it amusing. Him laughing as we passed each other broke the awful heavy silences that were common between staff at KGV and I remember thinking that one is different from the rest, he has a sense of humour. Something that our family always relied on to get us through the day.

I remember Joyce, one of my colleagues phoning me that fateful morning explaining that the car crash was all over the Chinese press in gory graphic detail. She was very concerned that our daughter Emma never got to see the horrible pictures of the crash.

I was very sad at the terrible news. I put his eulogy in my music studio where it remains to this day. Phil loved music & I felt he would be up there somewhere smiling down on my efforts and encouraging me to participate fully in the experience.

Cheers.

Tonie Bee said...

Hi,

I'm not sure who still looks at this, but I do. Phil was my uncle. He made the world a better place, more bearable. I love him so much.

(when this next bit happened my mum was still in a domestic abuse based relationship, she managed to get out of it about 4 years ago, after 25 years being in it)

I think it was the Christmas before he died that instead of giving my mum (his sister) a present, he gave her a promise. He said "When you leave him, I will buy you a car, whatever car you want" and he done this because he loved her, he always had. Even when there were those sibling fights that everyone has, he still loved her.

I only found this last year and I have checked it every week since I found it.

My cousin, Aleks, is seven and a half months younger than me younger than me, he was born on 11/09/2001. Phil loved him and Teresa(Ling) so much.

My nanny and grandad, still love him to this day, they may not talk about him, but the pictures around the house show how much they love and miss him.

I wasn't at his funeral because I had to be there for Aleks, he didn't go, so I didn't.

I have read the eulogy and what has been written on here and what his old students have said, over and over again.

I have been told many stories about Phil. one of them was when he decided to lick Maynards Wine Gums and stuck them one the window so it would look like a stained glass window. Another is that when he met Ling at the UEA, he talked to her and when he knew that she was the one, he went all the way to Hong Kong to propose to her.

I have to admit I didn't see much of Phil, but when I did it was the best time. He brightened everyones days up, but he couldn't help it, he was just that type of person.

My mum always tells me, that he would be proud of me, because apparently, at times, I am a spit image of him. I don't have a lot of common sense, I know what I want to be, I want to be a structural engineer, and I always ask why, because everything needs an explanation.


At KGV there is an award, called Phil Barnes award, this is awarded to students that excel in music, maths and physics, all of the subjects he done well in.

I wish he was still here.

I love you so much Phil, you're probably looking down on us and saying "Carol, I owe you a car!"

Love you always, Toni xoxox

Peter Moore said...

Hi Toni,

Thanks for leaving your memories of Phil. I was thinking about him the other day and feeling sad that he's no longer with us.

I think I remember your mum a bit. She probably won't know me but I met her a couple of times when visiting Phil at his parents' or going to the football at Carrow Rd back in the late 80s and early 90s.

Phil inspired people to be all that they could be and to push themselves to be different without judgement.

I'm sure he would be proud of you - he talked about his family a great deal and loved you all very much.

Best wishes to you. X

Carol Barnes said...

Wow....

Toni has only just shared this with me, and yes I have shed a tear or two. Your pictures sum Phil up to a T. If you have anymore I would love to see them. He is missed every day, he was a special human being. I think I remember you, Phil had so many friends, we tried to contact so many people, it was tough. I don't even think mum and dad, or Ling (Teresa) have seen this. Would love to hear more stories.

Carol x

Peter Moore said...

Hi Carol,

Please do share this with Ling and your parents.

I felt I had to write something back then as I heard about Phil's death only days before his memorial here in the UK (if I'm remembering right) and I couldn't attend due to a previous engagement.

I'm sure I have a few more pictures somewhere that I could scan in and I may be able to dredge my memory for some more stories. Maybe I'll sort something out over Xmas while I have some time off...

Thanks for leaving that message; it was nice to hear from you.

Pete

Peter Moore said...

Carol,
I've sent you a friend request on Facebook (saw you were a driving instructor so you weren't difficult to find). Hope that's OK.

If I do find any bits and pieces regarding Phil, I can post them there too.

Carol Barnes said...

I have saved your pictures, and will share with mum and dad, They remember you fondly. Cant seem to do messaging on here, am on fb mesenger if you would prefer :)

Carol Barnes said...

ok, got you :)