To his mum he was always Robert. His two older boys called him dad and our youngest knew him as Daddy. However, his best friend was often heard to refer to him as ‘Mr Weeble’…
…the reason for this was Bob’s joke – the only joke I actually recall him ever telling. . It was about a butler, called Weeble, and an incident with a hot water bottle…! He told it occasionally, to great effect, and was always delighted with it. Bob often made us laugh. He had a great sense of humour and was rarely down for long, even through the bad times. Every Christmas morning his first words would usually be; ‘Has Santa been?’, something his dad always said to him and his sister when they were little. He loved spending time with his family and early on we discovered the pleasures of a few days away somewhere. He never went abroad, it was usually Wales or Cornwall. Holidays were meticulously planned and Bob always dealt with the practicalities. In the early days we bought a tent – a very big tent. It was so big in fact that we had to colour code all of its poles in order to have a hope of ever putting it up. We actually became very adept at it and had some lovely holidays. The first one was in Norfolk to ‘try it out’ – it was a pity it snowed, but we survived. The last one was Croyde Bay in Devon, just me, Bob and our youngest son who was four years old at the time. The weather was glorious and we had a great time. Bob was an expert builder of sandcastles and took very seriously his role of holding back the sea with complex systems of battlements and walls.
Bob was a family man. He didn’t do much away from home and was happy to settle down at the end of the day in front of the television. His favourite film of all time was Zulu and he watched it often – along with anything in a foreign language that had English sub-titles racing across the bottom of the screen. The only thing he couldn’t watch was the Service of Remembrance every November; it brought back too many sad memories of his dad, who died suddenly one Remembrance Sunday.
Without Haemophilia Bob would almost certainly have been a good sportsman, but as it was he settled for what he could manage at the time. He played table tennis for his employers and later chess – his trophies raised his status in the family to that of ‘Chess Champion’. For a while we played Badminton in a school hall and since I’m completely useless at it he actually performed very well. Later he took up role-playing games and every Friday evening saw two or three earnest young men arrive at the house with boxes clutched under their arms. I usually passed them on my way out to my best friend’s clutching a bottle of wine. They would apparently spend all night discussing tactics and moving armies around the living room table.
Bob was an avid reader, especially of science fiction novels. He was a good carpenter, treasurer of the PTA, a brilliant dad and and partner and a friend to many, many people; I have truly never heard anyone ever say a bad word against him. He was gregarious, a perfect, old-fashioned gentleman and good fun to be around. He thoroughly enjoyed his life and made the most of every opportunity. He was clever, funny and brave and life was richer for those who knew him.