I always loved the black and white film From London to Brighton in four minuets … deliberate typo.
Richard Baker died on the 29th of May 2011. His death was celebrated last Friday. I had the gut instinct that a real geezer had gone forever.
Here’s how the day – obviously through my six senses – felt.
When I arrived at the hotel about 30 metres from the deep blue-green sea, it was clear to me that Baker was deeply loved. Loved by his family, loved by his friends, and loved by his colleagues. There was standing room only at the Lansdowne near the beach; perhaps there were between 250 and 300 people listening, keening and observing the celebration.
I observed the tears in peoples’ eyes. Three women on my left were particularly affected by the death of Mr Baker. The mum, think it must have been the mum, was stroking the arms of the girls but herself struggling hard to keep back the tears, supplying endless love to the girls and tissues – when required.
As Boots the Chemist tells me I have excellent peripheral vision but am a bit out of focus when I stare ahead, I couldn’t help but notice a couple rather more elderly than me burst into tears realising Richard Baker was dead.
It kicked off with Tears of a Clown by Smokey R and the Miracles, followed by Peter Murphy, a non sectarian chap who revisited Richard’s life. That was followed by Brendan’s Poem then a message from Linh Bergen-Peters, a lass based in AMD Austin who had known Mr Baker for a couple of years and claimed that Richard had tamed the most aggressive UK IT journalist of all. I hope she meant me. I preened myself.
Then came a fine piece of music by Ellie Goulding – Your Song – followed by a tribute from Richard’s close friend Paul Stewart. Stewart, a writer and novelist, became a close friend of Richard’s had had the notion that computer executives weren’t very interesting. Mr Baker fixed that idea.
We then had a bit of Robbie Burns – Epitaph to a Friend.
Followed by Adagio for Strings. By this point I was blubbling 110 percent as they say on the reality shows. And so was everyone else.
Richard’s very lovely son, Tom, then talked about his daddy – this was so brave of Tom; my heart nearly burst listening to him talking so lovingly through his tears. We then listened to Here Comes the Sun by the Fab 4 and Phoebe, Richard and Nicky’s daughter, then spoke about her great love for her daddy. Nicky Conlan, Richard’s lifetime partner, told us of her Lovely Man in a most most moving way.
That was followed by a recitation of Stop All the Clocks by WH Auden; Wives and Lovers by Bacharach; and then Farewell my Friends by Gitanjali Ghei, told by Ali Evans in a most touching reading of these words. The celebration ended with Crazy Love by Michael Buble.
We milled around a bit. A guy called Rana insisted on buying me a very expensive drink, twice. Mostly I knew the AMD guys so we hung out together a lot. Tom came up to us lot – hey I never worked for Advanced Micro Devices – and told them how much his dad had talked about them in such a positive way. In truth, the AMD UK guys that tipped up were in bits having lost their friend, their colleague and in many ways their mentor.
I am really very pissed off that Richard Baker is dead, and intend to have a party in Soho, soon, for us hacks and others that loved him. I will bung details of proposed dates for the pissup soon. Nicky Conlan is gonna come along too. It’s going to be a great party!