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Saturday 1 April 2023

R.I.P. Neil Robson

Neil Robson 

(4 January 1948-27 February, 2023)

I read the following at the order of service at the cremation on 31 March:

I’ve known Neil since our school-days so he has been a part of my life for near enough sixty-three years. And now he is gone.

He was a man of many parts, a connoisseur of whiskies, knowledgeable in world music (from pop to classical, ethnic to movie), old movies (usually of the British black-and-white variety), trains, local history, radio, photography, video-editing, and computing. While still at school he’d constructed a (doubtless illegal) directional-microphone – but never entered the sleuthing world. He was accomplished in woodwork and even constructed an office or two, and he would happily build a computer for friends and associates. He enjoyed puzzles – notably cryptic crosswords. And he loved gadgets, often being one of the first to own a new one: for example, left-right indicator lights for a bicycle. Surprisingly, he was a late convert to Alexa.

After his death, someone said that ‘wherever he is now, he’ll be at pains to put them right’. Because he was a perfectionist who ‘believed that the only way to do something was the Robson Way.’ He was often right, but conceded there were alternatives; to each his own!

While he will be remembered by many people for many interactions with them, perhaps his greatest gift to those who knew him was that he was most generous with his time, willing to help friends or neighbours with any problem, whether plumbing, electrical, mechanical or relating to computers.

Though not an avid reader, he was interested in words, hence his attachment to crosswords, and took pride in his pronunciation of certain words, not least being honorificabilitudinitatibus, which Shakespeare only used once, in Love’s Labour Lost.

At 27 letters it’s the longest word in the English language which strictly alternates consonants and vowels. It means ‘the state of being able to achieve honours’.

Certainly, Neil achieved honours by his long-lasting friendships, of which there were many from school and his time with the National Coal Board (where he met Margaret and was then subsequently joined with her at the hip).

He was adept at picking up foreign words or phrases, be they Welsh, or bits of German from their visits to Austria and Germany, or snippets of Spanish during their twice-yearly visits to us in Spain over fifteen years.

His humour was invariably dry. When I told him in hospital that his stroke was a shock to us all, he replied, ‘Not as much as it was to me’.

He was wont to deliberately mispronounce certain words so that thereafter the listener would forever be plagued with that version – two examples spring to mind: the local village of Wideopen was pronounced Wideo pen; and Finestrat the Spanish village near Benidorm became finest rat! He also adopted the baton passed on by Terry Wogan, inventing silly names, such as Lidia Bin, Anna Rack, Dai Laffin, Dicky Tikker, Nora Bone, Jim Shoes and Al Fresko…

So, yes, he may be gone, but for many reasons, as well as the aforementioned memories, he’s not forgotten.

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